More and more people choose to follow a low gluten diet, although they are not allergic to gluten. This trend has often triggered discussions whether low gluten-free diets are recommended for people without allergies.
What are celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?
Gluten is a type of protein found primarily in wheat, barley and rye. The gluten-free diet is used in people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune hereditary disease in which gluten cannot be metabolized by the small intestine and thus if gluten is consumed, there are lesions in the intestinal mucosa that prevent proper digestion and absorption of food components. Gluten consumption triggers inflammatory reactions and, if not properly treated, leads to serious health problems.
Gluten and intestinal disorders, what is the connection between them?
In addition to gluten intolerance, there are many people who has sensitivity and intestinal symptoms after eating gluten, although do not suffer from celiac disease. This is called non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
It has been observed that healthy individuals when eating a low gluten diet but also rich in fibers have significantly fewer intestinal disturbances and bloating. Many times these people may complain that they suffer from irritable bowel syndrome and exclude gluten from their diet.
Studies show that gluten may not be the main responsible for the symptoms that are caused. In contrast, FODMAPs, a group of poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, may be the cause of the symptoms. It is also important to note that grains containing gluten, such as wheat, barley and rye are high in FODMAPs. Another recent, randomized, controlled trial has shown that the fewer intestinal disturbances are attributed to changes in the composition and function of the gut bacterias.
In particular, a diet rich in dietary fibers but low in gluten (2 gr. of gluten per day) changed the type of bacteria that colonized the gut, reduced gastrointestinal discomfort, such as bloating and was associated with moderate weight loss. Based on these findings, researchers believe that fewer intestinal disturbances after a low gluten diet in healthy people may not be due to reduced gluten intake, but due to increased dietary fiber intake from vegetables, brown rice, corn, oats and quinoa, rather than from wheat and rye.
More long-term studies are needed to ascertain whether gluten in healthy individuals is the principal guilty of gastrointestinal symptoms. In any case, according to the up-to-date data, people who choose to reduce gluten intake should ensure a diet rich in fibers and low in FODMAPs.