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J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 Oct 30;22(4):547-557. doi: 10.5056/jnm16069.

Dietary Triggers in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Is There a Role for Gluten?

Author information

1
Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.
2
Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Farncombe Institute, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
3
Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.

Abstract

A tight link exists between dietary factors and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), one of the most common functional syndromes, characterized by abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating and alternating bowel habits. Amongst the variety of foods potentially evoking "food sensitivity", gluten and other wheat proteins including amylase trypsin inhibitors represent the culprits that recently have drawn the attention of the scientific community. Therefore, a newly emerging condition termed non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or nonceliac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) is now well established in the clinical practice. Notably, patients with NCGS/NCWS have symptoms that mimic those present in IBS. The mechanisms by which gluten or other wheat proteins trigger symptoms are poorly understood and the lack of specific biomarkers hampers diagnosis of this condition. The present review aimed at providing an update to physicians and scientists regarding the following main topics: the experimental and clinical evidence on the role of gluten/wheat in IBS; how to diagnose patients with functional symptoms attributable to gluten/wheat sensitivity; the importance of double-blind placebo controlled cross-over trials as confirmatory assays of gluten/wheat sensitivity; and finally, dietary measures for gluten/wheat sensitive patients. The analysis of current evidence proposes that gluten/wheat sensitivity can indeed represent a subset of the broad spectrum of patients with a clinical presentation of IBS.

KEYWORDS:

Biomarkers; Dietary factors; Functional bowel disorder; Gluten; Wheat

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