I hadn’t planned on sharing another Instameals post this week, but after I made these super easy and “begging for seconds” Greek Feta Sweet Potato Fries the other night, I knew I couldn’t hold out on you any longer…
Oh, and then there’s “that” study on non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) and the low FODMAP diet, that’s been making all the headlines lately, that I really want to talk about, to clear up any confusion about whether or not NCGS is real.
“Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist”
“Gluten Intolerance May Not Exist”
“New Study Claims Gluten Intolerance May Not Exist”
“Gluten Intolerance May Be Completely Fake”
“Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head”
For the record, I think all these headlines are, quite frankly, rubbish.
But, first, let’s talk fries…
So now let’s talk about “that” study, and my beef with many of the headlines you might have seen…
I must preface my comments below this by stating that I am NOT someone who believes that everyone needs to be on a gluten-free diet, and that gluten is the root of all our modern health problems. Not at all. In addition, I have utilized a low FODMAP diet with many of my IBS clients, most who have experienced partial or almost complete resolution of their GI symptoms with the diet, so I definitely think FODMAPs are problematic for some people, but I don’t believe that means NCGS doesn’t exist. If you haven’t read it before, you can read my story here about why I follow a gluten-free diet.
- Overview of the study: Double-blind cross-over study where patients were randomly assigned to groups and given a 2-week low FODMAP diet, followed by either a high-gluten, low-gluten plus whey, or control (whey) diet for one week. After a 2 week washout period, 22 patients were given gluten, whey, or a control diet for 3 days, and GI symptoms were observed.
- It’s important to note that the study was done on only 37 patients with self-reported improvement of IBS symptoms on a gluten-free diet, and that the dietary treatment arms were only 1 week and 3 days respectively.
- Outside of fatigue, the researchers only looked at whether or not digestive issues, including abdominal pain, bloating, and nausea improved on a gluten-free diet, as opposed to a whole host of other non-gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms of NCGS including, but not limited to: depression, anemia, “foggy mind”,joint pain, osteoporosis, and leg numbness.
- Dr. Alessio Fasano, a gastroenterologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and a well published author on celiac disease, NCGS, and zonulin and intestinal permeability, has commented on the study, and been quoted in this recent story in The New Yorker, as stating “There is no question in my mind that it (NCGS) exists,” and that by limiting the study to IBS patients, the researchers may have “studied the wrong population,” by excluding patients whose main issue is gluten as opposed to FODMAPs.
- Dr. Peter Green, a gastroenterologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y., and author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, has commented in this article, that while both FODMAPs and gluten may play a role in IBS, there could be other proteins in wheat causing discomfort as well, and that “this study adds to the confusion”, due to the complex nature of IBS.
My nutrition philosophy is more “50 Shade of Grey” than black and white. Sensationalized headlines, like those I quoted above, do a real disservice to everyone, and are, quite frankly, a slap in the face to anyone who knows that their NCGS is real. Although there are no doubt many people following a gluten-free diet who probably don’t need to be, non-celiac gluten-sensitivity is not fake, bogus, or all in my/your head, and I look forward to seeing this discussion (and the research) continued. If you would like to read more, I recommend the following: Freeing the Gluten-Free, Separating wheat from chaff in gluten sensitivity, Gluten Sensitivity May Be a Misnomer for Distinct Illness to Various Wheat Proteins.
P.S. As always, it is very important to consult with your physician for testing to rule out celiac disease before attempting a gluten-free diet. To date, there is no recommended or validated methods to test for NCGS, as it is diagnosed by process of exclusion.
Have you read any of these studies? Do you follow a gluten-free diet, and if so have you been diagnosed with celiac disease, NCGS, or IBS? What’s your take on headlines like these? Will you try making these Greek Feta Sweet Potato Fries??? I would love to hear your comments, and if you enjoyed this post, I appreciate you sharing it as well!