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Sensitivity to wheat, gluten and FODMAPs in IBS: facts or fiction?

Research paper by Roberto R De Giorgio, Umberto U Volta, Peter R PR Gibson

Indexed on: 17 Jun '15Published on: 17 Jun '15Published in: Gut



Abstract

IBS is one of the most common types of functional bowel disorder. Increasing attention has been paid to the causative role of food in IBS. Food ingestion precipitates or exacerbates symptoms, such as abdominal pain and bloating in patients with IBS through different hypothesised mechanisms including immune and mast cell activation, mechanoreceptor stimulation and chemosensory activation. Wheat is regarded as one of the most relevant IBS triggers, although which component(s) of this cereal is/are involved remain(s) unknown. Gluten, other wheat proteins, for example, amylase-trypsin inhibitors, and fructans (the latter belonging to fermentable oligo-di-mono-saccharides and polyols (FODMAPs)), have been identified as possible factors for symptom generation/exacerbation. This uncertainty on the true culprit(s) opened a scenario of semantic definitions favoured by the discordant results of double-blind placebo-controlled trials, which have generated various terms ranging from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity to the broader one of non-coeliac wheat or wheat protein sensitivity or, even, FODMAP sensitivity. The role of FODMAPs in eliciting the clinical picture of IBS goes further since these short-chain carbohydrates are found in many other dietary components, including vegetables and fruits. In this review, we assessed current literature in order to unravel whether gluten/wheat/FODMAP sensitivity represent 'facts' and not 'fiction' in IBS symptoms. This knowledge is expected to promote standardisation in dietary strategies (gluten/wheat-free and low FODMAP) as effective measures for the management of IBS symptoms.