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A gluten free diet may be bad for the gut
In recent years it has become "fashionable" to attribute gastric disturbance and even weight gain to gluten containing foods. A new study suggests that excluding gluten may have in fact have an unfavourable effect on gut microflora.
In the study 10 healthy volunteers of around 30 years of age consumed a gluten free diet for one month; the effect of this on the composition and function of gut microflora was analysed. Faecal analysis revealed that levels of probiotic bacteria decreased, while levels of potentially pathogenic bacteria increased during the intervention period; Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium longum counts decreased, while Enterobacteriaceae and Escherichia coli counts increased. In addition when blood cells were stimulated by faecal samples the immune response was found to be blunted after the month following the diet. These results are particularly relevant for patients with celiac disease, who must avoid gluten for life and may need to seek advice on balancing gut microflora through both diet and supplements. In addition prebiotics that promote the growth of Bifidobacterium and Bifidobacterium supplements have been found to be help manage Irritable Bowel Syndrome, any dietary pattern that has an adverse effect on poulations of this probiotic species may therefore also negatively impact the condition. Gluten containing foods, such as wheat, rye and barley, are rich in insoluble and soluble fibre. Soluble fibre, abundant in oats, has been found to be especially useful in the treatment of IBS.
Click here to view the study abstract.
The study is preliminary, but does highlight the fundamental importance of seeking the advice of qualified health care professionals when excluding food groups.