Are you really gluten intolerant?

Are you really gluten intolerant?

For years now, people have been cutting gluten out of their diet thinking it’s been the source of their digestive issues (i.e. bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea…). What many don’t realise is that there is limited high quality evidence to confirm the existence of gluten sensitivity1-3.

In the majority of cases, if individuals are struggling to eat wholewheat bread/pasta, it’s not gluten the culprit but rather fructan1-3. Fructan is a FODMAP that people with irritable bowel syndrome have issues digesting3. Have a look at the image below on what FODMAP’s are.

If you are unsure whether it’s gluten or fructan the problem, try eating sourdough bread. See the image below for an explanation.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t have had any symptoms in the last 3 days before trying this fermented bread3. Otherwise, your digestive problems from previous days can crossover onto the day you decide to try the bread.

In the end though, if you would rather skip this step and go straight to seeing a doctor and dietitian, that would be a better option. They can assess you properly and run some tests to discover if a medical condition is causing gastrointestinal issues or if it’s simply certain foods.

If you are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, the doctor would then refer you to a dietitian trained in the use of a low FODMAP diet. In most cases, you would follow a low FODMAP diet temporarily under the guidance of the dietitian and slowly reintroduce certain foods to pinpoint the “trigger foods” along with the amount. The goal is to find the right dose of foods you can tolerate without any discomfort. Ideally, you won’t eliminate any of them as these carbohydrates are really important for our gut health.

One final comment. I’d strongly suggest not doing the FODMAP diet on your own as there are steps to follow to do it properly which is what us dietitians are trained for.

Please note this document may not be suitable for an individual with a certain medical condition.


  1. Burden S. Dietary treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: Current evidence and guidelines for future practice. Journal of human nutrition and dietetics : the official journal of the British Dietetic Association. 2001;14:231-41.2.
  2. Volta U, Pinto-Sanchez MI, Boschetti E, Caio G, De Giorgio R, Verdu EF. Dietary Triggers in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Is There a Role for Gluten? Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility. 2016;22(4):547-57.
  3. Monash University. The Low Fodmap Diet [internet]. Melbourne (VIC): Monash University [ date unknown]. Available from: