Have You Heard the News? Gluten Intolerance May Not Exist

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Is Gluten Intolerance Real?

Is gluten intolerance real?

I had no idea how much emotion filled controversy there was around the gluten-free movement until recently.  Our family is on a gluten reduced diet because my husband and my boys all have clear issues when they eat glutinous products like wheat flour bread, crackers, pasta, etc.

My interest was piqued, to say the least, when my brother reported he had read of a new study (conducted by one of the original “discoverers” of gluten sensitivity).  I’m not the only one who’s interest was piqued.  The article has been all over  internet news channels lately…

Gluten Sensitivity May Not Exist

Being Gluten Free Isn’t Dumb, But it Might Be Wrong

Study says non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not be real

To summarize, back in 2011, Australian researcher Peter Gibson, professor of gastroenterology at Monash University and director of the GI Unit at The Alfred Hospital, published a study that found that gluten could cause gastrointestinal distress in individuals without celiac disease–an autoimmune disorder that proven to be triggered by gluten.  This experiment (a large and well executed one) pointed strongly to the theory that non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or intolerance, was a real condition.


Is Gluten Intolerance Real?  Recent Research Says Probably Not

Image Credit – Matthew Mendoza

Now, just a few years later, that same researcher has published a new study that has the world buzzing, “Is gluten intolerance real?”   This time Dr. Gibson’s study was even more well designed and included more controls–they even tested the participants poop for intestinal inflammation markers and injury.  Now that is thorough!

Here is the methodology the researchers used:

Participants were randomly assigned to groups given a 2-week diet of reduced FODMAPs, and were then placed on high-gluten (16 g gluten/d), low-gluten (2 g gluten/d and 14 g whey protein/d), or control (16 g whey protein/d) diets for 1 week, followed by a washout period of at least 2 weeks.

Participants were each shuffled through the 3 different diets, and guess what! Participants reported worsening of symptoms to similar degrees on both the placebo and high gluten diets.

Now, I know that when my husband eats wheat and other glutinous product he gets almost instant gas and bloating.  When he gives his appetite free reign and eats whatever his heart desires (think man-appropriate amounts of glutinous bread, crackers, cereal, etc.) his symptoms are extreme enough to fall in the IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) category.  In other words, his symptoms are no placebo effect.

So, then what is going on? Is gluten intolerance real or not?


While researchers say that more research is necessary to know exactly what is going on here, evidence points to foods known as FODMAPs (fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates) as the more likely culprit of the gastrointestinal distresses often associated with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.   Researchers say they found no evidence of specific effects of gluten in patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity placed diets low in FODMAPs.

I think this is a very interesting conclusion.  While I’m not quite ready to say that gluten doesn’t produce ill gastrointestinal affects in non-celiac people, I’m interested in hearing the future research on FODMAPs.

Tomorrow I’ll post a couple infographic listing foods that are high in FODMAPs and foods that are low in FODMAPs.  And, if you’re sharp, you might find that there is a caveat to this whole “gluten is not the culprit” conclusion. 😉



About Amy @ Oh So Savvy Mom

Amy is mom to three, wife to one, and a sister and aunt to many. Her family is a former military family now settled in Lehi, Utah. Oh So Savvy Mom began as a way for Amy to share parenting and product advice with others. Just as she has evolved, Oh So Savvy Mom has evolved into a resource for Healthy Living for Families, Food, Parenting, and Family Travel.


  1. Waiting impatiently for your list of foods! I have a friend who swears by fermented foods, so I'd love to know if there are any on the list! I have sensitivity to some dairy and gluten, but not all - whichever makes me think it's something completely different that we haven't figured out yet.
  2. i'm not buying it (Michael Savage mentioned this on his radio show yesterday) - somebody somewhere is basically paying him off to shut up about the gluten thing - and i'm an Aspie doing gluten-free..... :D
  3. haha i was wondering this. who knows anymore!
  4. Julie W. says
    This is very interesting research to find out if there is a gluten sensitivity in people who do not have Celiac disease seems debatable. I would like to know the list of foods that have a high FODMAPs and foods that are low in FODMAPs. I find this topic very interesting.
  5. Janet W. says
    I don't really know too much about it since I don't personally have any food sensitivities. My sister is on a gluten free diet. It's hard to really know if gluten intolerance really exists or not.
  6. Rebecca Parsons says
    This is crazy. I would love to know for sure if this is a real thing. I know a few people who have "gluten Intolerance".
  7. I'm not gluten intolerant, so I may not have noticed any other recent qrticles similar to this. This is the first time I've heard this study. I'm sure we'll hear more in the future. How confusing! I'm glad I don't have any food allergies or intolerances, yikes.
  8. it seems like whenever something like gluten intolerance becomes news, everyone jumps on the bandwagon.
  9. Current research shows that there are no answers to any questions. :-)
  10. RICHARD HICKS says
    I am sure a very small number of people may be intolerant. It has become such big business that they have convinced many that they are when in fact are not intolerant.
  11. shelly peterson says
    this is all interesting. I don't know much about this topic, but it seems a little confusing to me.