Celiac.com 08/11/2014 - A study establishing the existence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity has been turned on its head; by the very scientist who conducted it. In 2011, a small but scientifically rigorous study found that dietary gluten can trigger gastrointestinal distress in people without celiac disease. That study was conducted by Peter Gibson at Monash University in Australia.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons--Jason GulledgeLast year, Gibson published a follow-up study, which indicated that the real culprit might not be gluten, but fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates known as FODMAPs. Specifically, Gibson’s second study found no effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates. That is, once these alleged gluten-sensitive patients reduced their FODMAP intake, their symptoms disappeared, Whether or not they were consuming gluten.

That study looked at 37 self-identified gluten-sensitive patients. Gibson’s team provided all meals for each subject for the duration of the trial. For each meal, the study team eliminated all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms, including lactose (from milk products), preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and those fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs. They also collected urine and fecal samples from all subjects for the full study period. The team then randomly and secretly cycled test subjects through various high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten (placebo) diets. No test subject had any idea which diet plan they were on at any given time.

In the end, the results showed that test subjects self-identifying as ‘gluten-sensitive’ complained about every single diet — even the non-gluten placebo diet. They complained about pain, bloating, nausea, and gas to a similar degree, whether or not the food contained gluten. Gibson’s latest findings offer the more evidence against non-celiac gluten sensitivity as an actual medical condition. Among them, a full 65% of those who actually met criteria for NCGS showed intolerances to other foods, while 75% of those folks show poor symptoms control despite gluten avoidance.

So, for now at least, attention remains on FODMAPs as a potential cause for the complaints previously associated with adverse gluten reactions in non-celiac individuals.

So, to sum it up. The latest science argues against the existence of gluten sensitivity in non-celiac individuals, and indicates that the actual culprit behind gastric complaints in these cases might be fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates called FODMAPs.

Moreover, these results also stress the importance screening for celiac, and testing for other food sensitivities for those people claiming non-celiac gluten-sensitivity.

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