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Gluten-Free, But Still Having Syptoms

Next step, try the Spelt Litmus Test

Warning: This article is not applicable to people who have celiac disease or a wheat  allergy!!!

Millions of people are experimenting with eating a gluten-free diet to alleviate uncomfortable GI symptoms like gas, bloating, irregularity, and stomachaches.  For many people, going gluten-free is the ticket to relief and good health.  But, for others, a GF Diet is a temporary relief, only to start experiencing these uncomfortable symptoms again, regardless of following a strict gluten-free diet.

This has been quite the conundrum for a large number of people.   Although it’s very easy to get “glutened” in our society either by cross-contamination or consuming a hidden form of gluten (like: licorice, soy sauce, or barley malt in potato chips).  If that’s not the case and you are still feeling frustrated and bloated, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Tamara Duker Freuman, MS, RD, CDN came up with a unique “Spelt Litmus Test” to see if you may be more sensitive to “fructans”  a carbohydrate that is poorly digested and also found in a portion of the wheat grain.  Gluten is a protein found in wheat and fructan is a carbohydrate also found in wheat.  Fructans are also found in other foods that aren’t wheat, which may be why you are still experiencing GI symptoms while eating a GF diet.  It can be a little confusing, but helpful in figuring out your specific GI discomfort origins.

Spelt is an ancient grain related to wheat that does contain gluten.  Spelt should not be eaten by folks with CD nor wheat allergies.  Spelt is also low in fructans, which is why it’s the ideal candidate to see if you have a fructan intolerance rather than a gluten intolerance.
-people who are gluten intolerant will react poorly to spelt
-people who are fructan intolerant will be able to eat spelt just fine with no adverse symptoms.

Spelt Litnus Test:
1.  Purchase a simple spelt product: spelt pretzels, spelt matzoh, spelt flake cereal or spelt rice cakes
2.  Replace your typical breakfast food with a 1-ounce serving of spelt.   If  you have no symptoms,  try 2-ounces the next day.  Do this for three days.

If you feel fine after 3 days or more, you most likely have a sensitivity to “fructans” rather than gluten.  If you do experience discomfort from eating spelt, then it’s time to go back to eating GF.

If fructans are the culprit, I suggest you consider the FODMAP elimination diet to pin point exactly which fructans or carbohydrates are causing your symptoms.  Here's an Overview of the Low FODMAP Diet

Happy sleuthing and may the odds be with you!