Gluten vs FODMAPs: What's the Difference?

Gluten vs FODMAPs: What's the Difference?

Written by Lisa Kunstler, FodShop Nutritionist, Personal Trainer, and Group Fitness Instructor 


With Coeliac Awareness Week approaching in March, we decided it was a good time to end the debate once and for all on the differences between gluten and FODMAPs. This confusing topic can often leave individuals stumped but there is a clear difference that will be discussed in today's blog. 

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in many foods, that acts as a binding agent to hold foods together. It is commonly found in wheat, barley, rye, and other grains that constitute breads, pastas, cereals, and many baked goods. 

In some individuals, gluten is not properly digested by the body, and in some cases, may cause damage to the stomach lining, triggering symptoms of bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and flatulence. This is commonly seen in individuals with a non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (like irritable bowel syndrome and gluten intolerances), coeliac's disease, dermatitis, and herpetiformis. 

What are FODMAPs?

FODMAPs stand for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, and can be found in foods like vegetables, fruit, dairy, and grains like wheat, barley, and rye. They are short chain carbohydrates that are poorly digested in the gut, causing them to rapidly ferment and attract water to the bowel.

Foods high in FODMAPs trigger symptoms like bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhoea, and constipation in those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that is diagnosed by the Rome IV Criteria. For more information on the criteria, click on the blog HERE

What is the Difference?

As you can see, both foods high in FODMAPs and foods containing gluten include grains. They both also trigger similar symptoms to one another in those with gluten sensitivities and those with IBS. The difference comes down to the chemical structure of the grain. 

In coeliac's disease, the individual's reaction to the food is due to the gluten protein found in the grain, whereas for someone sensitive to FODMAPs, their reaction is more to the carbohydrate (fructans) found in the grain. Those with coeliac's disease or gluten sensitivity may find FODMAP carbohydrates in grains triggering however, it is not the other way around and is important to note that gluten is not a FODMAP!

If you have coeliac's disease and a gluten free diet is not entirely managing your symptoms, you may benefit from also following a low FODMAP diet. As gluten sensitivity is harder to diagnose, it may be the FODMAP carbohydrate that is triggering your symptoms and not the gluten protein. If you're unsure, it is always best to get in contact with your GP or Accredited Practising Dietitian to find ways that best manage your symptoms.

Final Thoughts

A gluten free diet isn't for everyone, but a low FODMAP diet certainly can be if you're having gut health issues! When it comes to grains, the gluten protein is an issue to those with coeliac's disease and gluten sensitivity, whist the FODMAP carbohydrate is a trigger for those with IBS. They have similar symptoms but they're not the same conditions, and depending on which one you have, this will affect the type of diet you should be on. 

To find an Accredited Practising Dietitian near you, click on the link HERE to learn how to best manage your symptoms, especially if you are already modifying your diet based on known or perceived dietary triggers.



you might also like
Leave a reply