We all know someone who is gluten-free, gluten-intolerant, just avoiding gluten altogether. Gluten has made headlines recently causing American’s to become weary of it. So if you’re annoyed while trying to dine out with them at a restaurant, don’t worry we’ve all been there. Sometimes food sensitivity is rife, causing suffering for some and painful discomfort for others.
According to, “today, some 3.1 million people across the United States follow a gluten-free diet. 72 percent of them are classified as “PWAGs” – people without celiac disease avoiding gluten. The number of PWAGs has risen steadily over the past five years amid increasing public suspicions of health problems brought on by gluten sensitivity.”
But, have people been blaming the wrong item for their digestive discomfort?
Experts set out to try to get to the bottom of the problem of one just one of the many issues that many American’s are facing today regarding their eating habits. Now, it seems possible many folks don’t have a problem with gluten. In a new study published online in Gastroenterology study reveals these issues may actually stem from fructan, a carbohydrate in wheat, garlic, onions and some other vegetables.
Questions arose over whether fructan was responsible for bloating and digestive issues rather than gluten when it was discovered it might contribute to irritable bowel syndrome. Subjects in an experiment were given muesli bars containing either gluten, fructan or neither ingredients. Only those who ate bars with fructan suffered a digestive upset, despite having diagnosed themselves as having an intolerance to gluten.
According to this Newsweek report, “results revealed that the overall consumption of fructan was associated with higher scores on the IBS test than both gluten and placebo consumption. For example, out of the study participants, 24 had the highest GSRS-IBS (gastrointestinal symptom rating scale, irritable bowel syndrome (GSRS-IBS)) scores after consuming fructan, compared to only 13 with gluten and 22 with the placebo. Personal accounts from volunteers showed that they only reported bloating and stomach pains while eating diets that had fructan. But not those with gluten or placebos.
What are fructans?
Fructans are carbohydrates that exist in certain foods naturally. They are sometimes added to other foods to increase fiber intake. They make your gut stretch when consumed since they attract water and ferment due to gas-producing bacteria. Sometimes they are beneficial, but not in large amounts. Small quantities can increase good gut bacteria and help you feel full.
Plenty of processed foods, including foods like ice-cream, contain fructans. If you don’t absorb them well, the result is likely to be gas, discomfort, and bloating. Recently many people mistakenly believed they hold a gluten-intolerance due to the recent discovery. However, studies show the fructans containing wheat are most likely to blame for these symptoms.
The good news is that people who have been misdiagnosed with a gluten intolerance can eat soy sauce and sourdough bread again as they don’t contain fructans. These individuals do, however, need to avoid onions, garlic, broccoli, and cabbage. Also, if you suffer from celiac disease, gluten will still be problematic and needs to be avoided.