Ever feel that you have digestive problems after you eat wheat in bread or pasta? When this happens, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that it’s the protein gluten that causes the gas, bloating, cramping and abdominal pain which some people experience after eating wheat. However, there is a growing body of evidence in Western medical literature that in many cases, it’s not gluten which is causing these problems.
Let me be clear; Celiac disease and non-Celiac gluten intolerance certainly exist. But the gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye and barely) also contain a long carbohydrate chain called fructan.
For some people, fructans are difficult to digest in the small intestine. When this is the case, the fructan carbohydrates are free to move down to the large intestine. In the large intestine the bacteria which naturally live there use these fructans as their food source. In the process of digesting the fructan molecules, a process called fermentation, these bacteria release gas and many tiny molecules. This gas and the large number of small molecules can trigger bloating and diarrhea, and/or constipation.
So before you decide that you have to eliminate gluten to improve your digestive symptoms, talk to your doctor and a dietitian with experience in this area. It may be that a trial of the low FODMAPs diet could help you feel a lot better than you otherwise might feel by just cutting out gluten.