Thursday, March 22, 2018

There's Perhaps An 80% Chance That Your Bloating Woes Aren't Related To Gluten

Are you scared of gluten?

Are you avoiding it because gluten containing foods leave you feeling bloated or otherwise unwell?

It's probably not the gluten.

Adding to a growing pile of evidence that it's not the gluten that's causing your symptoms (no one's doubting the symptoms, it's more a matter of figuring out where they're coming from) is this recently published, albeit small, study highlighting a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled challenge of twenty patients without celiac disease or wheat allergy who were suspected of having non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), and who had all experienced relief from their symptoms following a gluten-free diet.

Every one of the study's participants went through four separate periods of double-blinded challenges - two with gluten, and two without, in random order. They were asked to consume two muffins per day which did or did not contain 11g of gluten for 4 days followed by a 3 day washout all the while continuing to eat their otherwise gluten free diet. They simultaneously tracked their gastrointestinal symptoms and were asked their thoughts as to whether they were consuming gluten containing muffins or not during each treatment. All subjects diets were also analyzed after the fact for their FODMAP content.

Looking at the participants self-reported symptoms scores, they were worst after the challenge with the placebo (gluten-free) muffins - significantly so even - with a p value of 0.012. Of the 20 subjects, only 20% (4) correctly identified the two periods they received gluten containing muffins. Of course 4 people of 20 correctly identifying which muffins contained gluten may well occur simply by chance and consequently conclusions can't be drawn on their basis.

All this to say, taking those 4 as real data points, this study suggests that 80% of people with unexplained food-related discomfort aren't reacting to gluten, and though people's bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain, fatigue, and other symptoms, are real, what's causing them is not yet clear.

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