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Most gluten-free eaters probably aren't allergic to gluten

CC by: Memphis CVB

In 2011, gastroenterologist Peter Gibson and some colleagues at Australia's Monash University published a study that appeared to provide proof of a non-celiac intolerance to gluten. An estimated 1 percent of people have celiac disease, a serious reaction to gluten, but an increasing number of people are avoiding the sticky protein in their diets — even if they're not clear on what gluten is — for other reasons, like hoping to lose weight or fix a host of digestive problems.

In a newer study, Gibson says to forget all that: Most people aren't reacting to the gluten in wheat, they're reacting to a non-digestible carbohydrate called fructan. Good Morning America explains:

But it's not just fructan that's causing people to experience irritable bowel syndrome, Gibson says, it's all FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides, and Polyols). If you think giving up gluten is hard, FODMAPs include milk and yogurt, honey and corn syrup, apples and avocados, and a handful of vegetables like broccoli and artichokes. This isn't a new theory for Gibson: He and Susan Shepherd first linked FODMAPs to IBS in 1999, and they've developed a low-FODMAP diet.

If Gibson and his colleagues are right, or even if people think they are, expect to see a lot of fructan-free or FODMAP-free food soon.