“I’m gluten sensitive.”  “I’m allergic to gluten.”  “We are eating gluten-free now.”  “I have celiac disease.”

You’ve no doubt heard one or more of these quotes while eating out with friends, having people over for a meal, or just thrown into daily conversation. For a person who has actually been diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten can damage the small intestine and produce painful, unpleasant symptoms. Gluten is a mix of proteins found in wheat, barley and rye. It gives bread its elasticity.

But there are others who say they just feel better when they don’t eat gluten. Researchers and doctors who are trying to understand the gluten puzzle are now coming to the conclusion that it may not be gluten causing the problems. People who feel better on a gluten-free diet are more likely sensitive to carbohydrates in the wheat, not the gluten protein.

The group of carbohydrates are fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols or FODMAPs. FODMAPs are irritating the guts of many people and causing symptoms like gas, diarrhea, and distention. In most trials, 70% of patients see improvement in IBS symptoms with a low-FODMAP diet. So where are these FODMAPs and what foods should you avoid if you suspect this could be your problem? High FODMAP foods include: legumes, garlic, onions, asparagus, artichokes, sweet corn, apples, pears, peaches, watermelon, wheat, barley, rye, milk, and cream, among others. If you have no problems with your gut, you should definitely enjoy these foods. But if reducing FODMAPs from your diet gives you relief from years of symptoms, it might be worth a try.

As always, check with your doctor before making a major change to your diet.

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