The gluten-free movement is so popular it has now earned its own label on food for purchase: a small "GF" for gluten-free products.
People who buy gluten-free products say they are sensitive to this protein, which is found in grain and gives bread its elastic quality. Some who abstain from gluten — about 1 in 100 people worldwide — have an autoimmune disorder called celiac disease. People with celiac who eat gluten suffer damage in the small intestine, preventing the absorption of the nutrient.
According to reports, by 2016, gluten-free food sales will total more than $15 billion.
But the scientists who published a study that was key in lending credence to the movement have recently tried to replicate their results. The researchers, with Monash University in Australia, also examined a group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (fodd-maps).
FODMAPs (fodd-maps), found in garlic, kidney beans and apples, among many other fruits and vegetables, aren't absorbed well by the small intestine. They can pass into the large intestine and cause bloating and gas.
The study's participants were fed a low-FODMAP diet for two weeks, then randomly assigned to groups. The groups were fed high-gluten, low-gluten or control diets for a week.
Eight percent of the participants reported actual gluten-specific sensitivities. But contrary to their previous study, the researchers said they found few symptoms associated with gluten if the person did not have celiac disease.
However, all of the participants reported feeling better on the low-FODMAP diet. One carb in particular, fructan (FRUCK-ton), is found in wheat. Scientists think this is actually what many people with gluten insensitivity may be reacting to.
Perhaps the next $15 billion food industry will carry a tag that reads "FODMAP-free."