Thursday, 26 March 2015

The truth behind non-coeliac gluten sensitivity

By Dr Jane Varney

Biesiekierski, J. R., et al. (2013). "No effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates." Gastroenterology 145(2): 320-328 e321-323.

The gluten-free diet is more popular among consumers now, than ever before. This popularity is despite a scarcity of scientific evidence to suggest a benefit of excluding gluten in people without coeliac disease. Monash researchers have responded to this trend by measuring the effect of a gluten-free diet in people with IBS and so called, ‘non-coeliac gluten sensitivity’ (NCGS). Participants consumed a gluten-free, low FODMAP diet for two weeks and were then randomly assigned to one of 3 diets (high gluten, low gluten or zero gluten). The study found - while all participants experienced an improvement in gastrointestinal symptoms on the initial low FODMAP diet, there were no independent, gluten-specific effects observed. The study calls the clinical diagnosis of NCGS into question and suggests that FODMAPs, not gluten, are the trigger of gastrointestinal symptoms in people with so-called, NCGS. 

Other reading suggestions:
Click here to read our other blog instalment on Gluten-free vs FODMAPs:


  1. I'm confused....You gave some of the participants a high gluten diet....with Wheat, Rye, and Barley? Wouldn't that be very high in Fructans? Does that mean these participants did not need to avoid fructans?
    Avoiding gluten may not be because of a gluten sensitivity, it may be because of FODMAPs, but it is still on the no list due to the Fructans in the same products. Why does it matter what is in the product that is causing us to have gastrointestinal symptoms if you still can't eat the same things?

    To be more clear, I don't understand when I see the low FODMAPs diet list: "Foods to Avoid" and under Fructans it includes Wheat, Rye, and Barley; how are people who are following a low FODMAP diet eating a high gluten diet?

    thank you for your time.

    1. Hi Wendy, We'll be writing a blog post about this very matter in the next few weeks to clarify any condusion. Keep an eye out for it.

  2. It is important to distinguish between a fructan vs a gluten intolerance since some gluten-free foods contain fructan, such as onion and garlic. Also, the fructan-intolerant individual test the extent of his intolerance in order have as varied a diet as possible whereas the person with celiac disease must avoid consuming even traces of gluten to prevent further damage to the intestine.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. I find that food combining helps as much as low FODMAPs. Not eating starch with protein keeps me on track. But I have trouble fitting all my needed nutrition into the available hours. Has this come up with other people.

    1. Hi Nesta,
      It takes alot of planning to eat well. Writing shopping lists, cooking in batches and freezing meals, having fresh fruit and vegies in the house and packing lunches for work are a few strategies to help you eat well on a low FODMAP diet.
      Best of luck,

  5. Adding gluten to 'gluten-free' flour helps to minimise crumbling and seems fine on the FODMAP diet. Millet bread (Culina Bakery) tastes great and contains gluten but also seems FODMAP friendly.