New free-from trend set to storm the UK, says expert

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

More people doing IBS 'selfies'
More people doing IBS 'selfies'

Related tags: Irritable bowel syndrome, New nutrition business

Functional food manufacturers should prepare to take advantage of a popular free-from diet developed in Australia and already emerging in the UK, experts have said.

Research first carried out in Australia and adapted by scientists at King’s College London, has suggested that people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can ease their symptoms with the Fodmap diet.

The Fodmap diet which stands for fermentable, oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols, requires IBS sufferers to limit or revoke these five sugars and fibres from their diets, as they are poorly absorbed by the lower intestine and contribute to the symptoms of IBS.

Rise in popularity

The diet is expected to rise in popularity, as was seen with gluten-free for coeliac sufferers, said Julian Mellentin, director of New Nutrition Business. “There will be a rise in self-diagnosis of IBS, as we have seen with coeliacs in the past 10 to 15 years,”​ he said.

People were already aware of the effects of removing certain foods from their diets, he added. “I’ve read commentary from analysts saying that, in the future, we will have individual nutrition plans. But people are already doing that themselves by using the internet.”

The free-from diet trend was set to rise too, according to Mellentin, who said 20 years ago people were thought of as “strange”​ for abstaining from certain foods. But it was now common for people to do this and talk about it, he said.

Take advantage

This was where small and niche UK food manufacturers could take advantage of Fodmap-free, he said. There was no reason why there couldn’t be foods such as Fodmap-free soups and sauces on supermarket shelves.

“Gluten-free grew quickly and now supermarkets have gluten-free sections. There’s an opportunity for Fodmap-free foods on the shelves,”​ he said.

Related topics: Health and nutritional ingredients

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Posted by David Coeliac,

Hi Ian , you mention some great points in your reply are you a Coeliac ?

I was diagnosed over 11 years ago , and really disagree that's it's great that we have a wide range of gluten free products these days for a few reasons . I think the quality of the products has gone down many times if I buy something GF I'm usually unimpressed ! I remember some really nice biscuits when I was first diagnosed , sadly the products are no longer avaliable , but I remember them well and compared to most supermarket biscuits these were amazing shame they are not avaliable anymore .

But my biggest concern and problem with the gluten free diet is the non Coeliacs . I know everyone has a free choice of diet ( well apart from us Coeliac's ! ) but the big problem is supermarkets products I have come across the past few years that are labelled gluten free but have a very small missable warning saying not suitable for all Coeliacs ! It's disgraceful how can a product be labelled gluten free and not suitable for all Coeliacs ? The companies are making products for people who don't need them and the people with the medical diagnosis are missing out . Also what happens when a restaurant advertises gluten free but maybe they are unsure about cross contamination or maybe just to make more profit. A non Coeliac can go in have a nice meal everthing is fine , and than maybe a week later a Coeliac goes in has a meal and is ill after , It's happened to me unfortunately . If the non Coeliacs get no symptoms and have a great meal how can the people like us with Coeliac Disease really know 100 % for sure what we are eating is 100 % gluten free , this worries me a lot and I prefer not to eat out anywhere nowdays .

Anyway I enjoyed reading your reply , would be nice to talk to you about Coeliac Disease sometime ?


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IBS and Coeliac Disease are very different conditions

Posted by Ian Love,

Once again I am disappointed to see food experts commenting on how gluten-free diets have risen in popularity because of people who suffer with Coeliacs disease.

Gluten free diets are not a choice for Coeliacs, they are a necessity - there is no alternative!!!

IBS suffers have symptoms that derive from an intolerance to a certain food and once the symptoms pass they are usually ok again.

Coeliac disease is different. It is a lifelong condition and exposure to even a microscopic amount can be enough to set off a reaction which can last for months. This reaction is not an intolerance, it is an allergic reaction that causes the body to attack the gluten particles which damages the sufferer's gut lining.
This damage makes it far more difficult for the persons body to absorb nutrients and vitamins which can cause significant health issues later on in life including, but not limited to osteoperosis and fertility problems.
Many Coeliac suffers will need to take vitamin supplements for life because of these risks.

Up until only a few years ago there was no decisive test for Coeliac disease but then the tTG (Tissue Transglutaminase) blood test came along and gave suffers a clear diagnosis.

Even as recently as 6 years ago the gluten free foods available in the UK were very poor by comparison with their gluten containing equivalents.
I'm sure any long-term Ceoliac sufferer remembers the oddly sweet loaves of bread you could buy or the overly chalky biscuits etc?

Why was this?

Mainly because the demand for gluten free foods was almost entirely driven by Coeliac sufferers, of which there were not vast confirmed numbers.
The financial investment required on behalf of the food manufacturers in order to create production lines that were truly gluten free was considered poor business sense and therefore sufferers had to make do.

Over the past 5 years a large number of non-Coeliacs have decided to go gluten-free and this has of course made the market larger and more lucrative.
Suddenly the large manufacturers have taken notice, and seeing that a profit can be made from gluten free foods they have started to invest and to develop truly palatable alternatives.

Don't get me wrong, this is fantastic for all Coeliacs who today have access to the widest range of gluten free foods there has ever been.

But nobody should be under the impression that the increase in popularity of gluten-free diets is because of Coeliac sufferers. It is because of non-Coeliacs choosing to follow gluten free diets and this in turn has led to companies improving their ranges.

Even now the fact remains that some gluten free foods cost as much as four times as much as their gluten containing alternatives which is most likely a profit driven initiative by the manufacturers and retailers.

I just hope that Fodmap-free foods don't follow the same pattern!!

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