Something else, not gluten, might be making people sick

As of 2017, over 3 million Americans follow a gluten-free diet for health reasons. But some researchers think people's sensitivity issues aren't always with gluten — they could be linked to fructan.

Fructans are naturally occurring carbohydrates common to American diets; wheat and onions make up about 95 percent of all fructans we eat. And while fructan and gluten have been linked to gastrointestinal problems in the past, the prevalence of celiac disease hasn't grown. But interest in gluten-free diets has.

So researchers wanted to see if people who thought they were gluten-intolerant were actually fructan-intolerant. Each week, they assigned participants a blind diet that was one of these: gluten, fructan or placebo. People then said how they felt before moving to the next diet.

SEE MORE: The Vatican Says Gluten-Free Communion Wafers Don't Count

RELATED: Tips for Eating Gluten Free During the Holidays 

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Tips for Eating Gluten Free During the Holidays
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Tips for Eating Gluten Free During the Holidays

Read on for helpful tips to stay gluten-free during the holidays.

Contribute to the feast.

When I am a guest at someone else’s party, I always bring a little something. I mean, who is going to turn down more food? Whether it is your favorite gluten-free recipe or gluten-free chocolate cake, bring at least one item you KNOW you will be able to have, and rid yourself of food anxiety.

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Tell the restaurant ahead of time about your dietary restriction.

It never hurts to be too prepared, and you may as well get the awkwardness out of the way in advance. The amount of restaurants I go to during holiday season is insane. It seems like everyone wants to throw a holiday dinner, and for convenience sake, host it at a restaurant. On occasions where I know I will be served a pre-fixe menu, I always remind the host of the party that I am gluten-free. It gives the restaurant time to not only select the best gluten-free option, but to ensure that the chefs and kitchen staff are aware that they will be serving a gluten-free diner.

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“Oh there’s just a little bit of gluten, it won’t affect me.”

Well if you say that 5 nights in a row or at several dinner parties, it WILL affect you! I know plenty of people who say that during the holidays, they go from “gluten-free” to “gluten- reduced.” Stick to your diet as best as you can. Yes, you may feel okay after one slip-up, but this isn’t a reason to slip up again. The only way to make it through the busy holiday season is to feel healthy and to be your best self. Resist the temptation!

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When in doubt, simple is smart.

The Thanksgiving turkey looks delicious, but is there stuffing inside? And that Christmas steak is to die for, but what sauce was used as a marinade? As tempted as you are to say “forget it, it’s the holidays,” stay true to your diet and look for options you know are gluten-free. Vegetables and potatoes are usually served at any holiday dinner, so if there is something questionable and you don’t feel comfortable asking if the dish contains gluten, or your host just doesn’t know the answer, look for the roasted sweet potatoes, sautéed string beans, roasted Brussels sprouts, salads, and other classic gluten-free dishes.

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When researchers compared the records, they found only about 1 in 5 people said they felt the worst on the gluten diet, while about 2 in 5 said they felt the worst on the fructan diet.

So many claiming to have gluten sensitivities might be focusing on the wrong thing. But gluten-free diets aren't without risks. Previous studies have also linked them to increased risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

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