Some people think going gluten-free (GF) is a solution for bloat, but a new study suggests that’s only true if you’re smart about the switch.
Researchers asked 60 healthy adults to eat a low-gluten diet. After eight weeks, they reported feeling less bloated than they did before the study, when they were consuming more gluten. That said, the benefits didn’t come from swapping wheat-containing products like bread for their GF counterparts. Instead, they came from eating more whole foods full of dietary fiber.
Wheat, rye, and barley contain gluten peptides that stay behind in your intestinal tract, says study author Oluf Pedersen, MD, professor at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen. This can cause bloat even in people without intolerances, though Pedersen notes more research is needed.
Gluten-free equivalents might not solve that issue. Those products are often made with highly processed, fiber-free ingredients like tapioca and pea starch and rice flour.
Pedersen says the best way to prevent bloat on a GF diet, whether you have sensitivities or not, is by getting fiber from whole foods like berries, root vegetables, brown rice, oats, and quinoa. He recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for women and 38 for men.