Lifestyle | Health & Wellness

The Low FODMAP Diet is Not a Gluten-Free Diet

Did You Know That The Low FODMAP Diet is Not a Gluten-Free Diet?

Surprised? It is true; the low FODMAP diet is not gluten-free, but we understand that you might have thought that it was due to the many gluten-free recommendations that you see in prepared food products as well as individual ingredients when following the low FODMAP diet.

sourdough bread held in hands with a blue kitchen towel

When we speak of gluten, wheat often comes up front and center, and for good reason. All-purpose flour is wheat based and is what so many traditional baked goods are made from ranging from cookies to cakes, Danish to pies and tarts, pasta and plain old sandwich bread. Barley and rye contain gluten as well, but it is wheat that is so omnipresent, so let’s focus on that for a moment.

Wheat Contains Gluten & Fructans

The issue is that that wheat not only contains gluten, it fructans, too, and fructans are a FODMAP. When you look at the Monash University Smartphone App the first category is Oligos, which actually encompasses both fructans and GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides). We want to steer clear of fructans during the Elimination phase, and depending on what you learn during your Challenge phase, they might be something that you largely avoid.

Limit Wheat – Limit FODMAPs

When it is recommended that we eat gluten-free and wheat-free during the low FODMAP diet it is because we are trying to limit the intake of FODMAPs.

Are You Sensitive to Gluten or Have Celiac Disease?

We always suggest that you get an actual diagnosis of IBS from a gastroenterologist and during your screening a thorough doctor will screen you for celiac disease as well. There are exceptions, but this is a standard approach.

You might find out that you have celiac disease, in which case you will be avoiding all gluten from here on in. Or, you might have non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which is typically diagnosed after both celiac disease and a wheat allergy have been ruled out.

baguettes stacked up on a piece of linen

Time for a Challenge

If you do not have celiac disease, and you have completed your Elimination phase, then at some point your registered dietitian will most likely suggest that you Challenge yourself with fructans. Many dietitians take a multi-pronged approach, separating out garlic, onions and wheat-based bread from one another. They all contain fructans, but you might react differently.

And Then There is Sourdough Bread

Again, if you do not have celiac disease your dietitian might suggest trying a slice of traditionally slow-risen sourdough bread. This is bread that has no yeast added and that has risen for at least 24 hours, and 48 is even better. This is because these breads contain fewer FODMAPs even though they are made with wheat flour.

Microbes in active sourdough cultures (also referred to as the “starter”) actually consume fructans in the wheat during the long fermentation period. This results in a sourdough bread more that is more digestible for many people.

To learn more, read our article on How Fermentation Affects the Content of Sourdough Bread & Dairy Foods.

By Challenging yourself with both conventional wheat bread (like sandwich bread) and slow-rise sourdough – separately – you will be able to assess whether you are reactive to gluten, the fructans in wheat, reactive to both gluten and fructans or possibly neither!

Work with your dietitian on the amount of bread to try and the timing of your Challenges.

Take Your Time

A structured Challenge phase takes time, but it is so worth it. It is the only way that you will be able to gather discerning feedback from your own digestive system. When you know what your reactions are to the gluten as well as to fructans in wheat then this information can guide you in recipe and meal choices. Knowledge is power!

You might also enjoy reading our article, Choosing a Low FODMAP All-Purpose Flour.

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