A recent study from India supports previous studies’ findings that following a gluten-free diet can help reduce symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating, in people with IBS.
Next, these 65 responders were split into two groups for the re-challenge phase. One group was given two slices of gluten-containing bread and the other was given two slices of gluten-free bread to eat every day for the following four weeks.
Those given the gluten-containing bread reported a significant increase in overall symptoms, including abdominal pain, bloating, and fatigue, as compared to those who received the gluten-free bread. In other words, reintroducing gluten made people with IBS feel worse.
No study is perfect, but a prospective, randomized, double-blinded placebo controlled study such as this one is a very strong study design. Although the sample size was relatively small and the duration of the study was short, this study provides more proof that gluten can influence IBS symptoms in certain individuals.
If you suffer from IBS then trying a gluten-free diet for four to six weeks may help you feel better, but please make sure to talk to your doctor first to rule out celiac disease.
Keep the following tips in mind should you decide to go gluten-free:
- Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and non-gluten-free oats. Be sure to check food labels for any of these words. Some common sources of gluten include bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, and cookies. Oats labeled “gluten-free” are OK.
- Gluten hides in many foods as a filler or thickener, including soups, condiments, and sauces (e.g. soy sauce).
- Limit your intake of highly-processed gluten-free foods. These foods contain preservatives and other food additives that can do a number on the gut. You wouldn't want to go gluten-free just to give yourself new problems! Eating a healthy, whole foods diet will help make eating gluten-free a lot easier, and will help you feel much better than filling up on gluten free cookies and breads.
- Beer contains gluten. Check for gluten-free varieties.
- Talk to your doctor before going gluten-free!