Have you been eating healthy vegetables, and fruits; basically the entire produce section only and the weight just won’t budge? Do you frequently have abdominal pain after eating or experience a bloated stomach? Unfortunately, not all foods are digested the same, and for some of us, digestion just doesn’t happen. With today’s latest research, Nutritional Scientists along with Gastroenterologists are finally starting to grasp the pathology of common food allergies and intolerances, specifically IBS/IBD or Irritable Bowel Syndrome/ Irritable Bowel Disease.

So... Gluten-Free?

There is a common trend changing the way we eat in today’s world: going gluten-free. Spoiler Alert: There is no substantial evidence that supports ‘Gluten Sensitivity’ nor that gluten is ‘bad for you’. On top of that, it is expensive! Media has been pushing the gluten-free trend for the past few years, and people are starting to go gluten-free without any reasoning behind it. Gluten-free does NOT mean carbohydrate free. That is the Atkins diet. Carbohydrates are found in nearly every food consumed including fruits and vegetables. Additionally, if you eat ‘gluten-free’ it is vital to know that most of the gluten-free grain products are not enriched with nutrients like normal grain goods. This tends to lead to deficiencies in people with Celiacs disease and those following a gluten-free diet, as they are not receiving the recommended dietary allowances of nutrients set by Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council/ National Academy of Sciences.

But what is Gluten-Free?

Gluten-free means that you refrain from eating gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, because your body cannot break it down. Instead, you replace gluten-filled items, with gluten-free items.

If your body cannot break down gluten, symptoms include:

  • constipation 

  • diarrhea

  • severe aching and pain in joints and abdomen

  • not being able to think clearly or “foggy brain”

  • nausea 

  • heartburn

  • skin rash

The common population believes that gluten causes bloating. Scientific evidence shows gluten is most likely not the culprit if that is your main or only symptom. Since gluten is a protein, it is absorbed in the small intestine. Protein digestion begins in the stomach, with the aid of your gastric juices. Then through enzymatic processes digestion continues in the small intestine. (If you are Celiac, this is where problems really begin a complex cascade of events). The last step is the now-broken-down amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream and transported throughout the body. This is why ‘constipation’ does not equal gluten sensitivity. If you are Celiac, gluten cannot be broken down in the upper intestines, which would cause bloating in your upper intestines, not large intestine or colon. The gluten (protein) cannot be broken down into the smaller amino acids, causing destruction to the villi that absorb nutrients in your intestinal tract. This over time leads to malnourishment, irritability, and extreme joint pain. If left untreated it can lead to a multitude of serious diseases including cancer, lupus, MS, osteoporosis, anemia, heart disease, and depression.

But what is making me bloat?

It is hard to determine whether it is the gluten that is causing symptoms or the other ingredients within the product. For most people who feel bloated or have stomach pain, it is more likely IBS and FODMAP foods that causes irritation. However, following a gluten friendly food diet can be beneficial, as gluten-free options usually do not contain high fiber or sugar-free sweeteners which cause symptoms for IBS.

FODMAP foods… Never heard of it?

Probably not. FODMAP is an abbreviation for the scientific terms for certain carbohydrates: Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. These are short-chained carbohydrates found in foods that are poorly absorbed by people with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Carbohydrates are found in nearly every food you eat, not just starches like grains and cereals. Unlike Celiac which is a sensitivity to the protein, gluten, IBS can be caused by a sensitivity to carbohydrates.

According to latest research from Monash University, ‘FODMAPs can be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Malabsorbed carbohydrates are fermented by gut bacteria to produce gas’ (bloated belly). ‘Current research strongly suggests that this group of carbohydrates contributes to IBS/FGID symptoms. FODMAPs are found in a wide range of foods’. Following a FODMAPs elimination diet can help in decreasing belly bloat. Note that the listed foods affect people differently. Try to see what works best with your body and always consult your physician. Become aware today of the common 'diet' foods that could be inhibiting your weight loss goals and contributing to belly bloat!

Does this sound just like you? Learn more HERE

References:

Srivithp. “Nutritional Translational Science.” Monash University, Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, 2017, www.med.monash.edu/cecs/gastro/research/nutrition.html.

William E. Whitehead, Linda Bosmajian, Alan B. Zonderman, Paul T. Costa Jr., Marvin M. Schuster, Symptoms of Psychologic Distress Associated With Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Gastroenterology, Volume 95, Issue 3, 1988, Pages 709-714, ISSN 0016-5085, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0016-5085(88)80018-0.