Is low-FODMAP the new gluten-free?
Gluten vs FODMAP, which is the culprit?
Several studies2 indicate that Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (NCGS) have many points in common2, including their symptoms and the food that seem to cause them.
Some people with digestive problems who are following a gluten-free diet, manage to decrease their symptoms …. but which compounds are truly responsible for the symptoms: gluten or FODMAPs? Up until recently, wheat and other gluten-containing grains were often singled out to explain the unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms associated with IBS and NCGS. It should be noted that gluten-containing grains also contain FODMAPs3, mainly fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides. By withdrawing gluten-containing grain products, a large part of FODMAPs are also withdrawn from the diet!
So which one is the real culprit? The subject is still under debate. If the latest research and expert opinions on the subject are anything to go by, it is most likely that the symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten-sensitivity are due to the FODMAP content of wheat and other grains, rather than their gluten content1.
Other recent studies2 indicate that a minority of people might be truly affected by wheat proteins, including gluten. This sensitivity causes symptoms similar to IBS, but in this instance, it’s more of a case of non-celiac wheat protein sensitivity. The occurrence of this sensitivity would be in the same order of magnitude as celiac disease, i.e., about 1% of the population.
In conclusion: Most people whose digestive symptoms improve upon eliminating gluten from their diet, should try the low FODMAP diet. This method might help them to identify which FODMAPs cause problems and avoid restricting their diet more than necessary!
- Muir, J & Gibson P.(2014). The Emerging story of dietary fibre & gut health. Food Australia: 34-37. Retrieved from http://foodaust.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Jane_Muir_Peter_Gibson.pdf
- De Giorgio, R., Volta, U. and Gibson, P.R. (June 15th, 2015). Sensitivity to wheat, gluten and FODMAPs in IBS: facts or fiction? Gut 65:169-179. Retrieved from
- Monash University. (2015). The Monash University Low FODMAP Diet. [version 1.4] [App]. Downloaded from https://itunes.apple.com/au/app/monash-university-low-fodmap/id586149216?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
- Dietitians of Canada. (november 2013). PEN nutrition: Celiac/Coeliac Disease Background. Retrieved from http://www.pennutrition.com/KnowledgePathway.aspx?kpid=924&trid=1247&trcatid=38