Is Durum Pasta the Answer to Non-coeliac Gluten Sensitivity?

Individuals suffering from non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) do not have coeliac disease or a wheat allergy, however they still experience similar symptoms of bloating, cramping, gas, diarrhoea, headache or fatigue upon ingestion of gluten containing foods. Symptoms also appear to improve after swapping to a gluten free diet [24369326].

However, studies have shown that the consumption of gluten alone does not cause a reaction in the vast majority of these people [23648697] [26867199] leading to the growing amount of evidence that perhaps other components of wheat, including the various types of fermentable sugars (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides AND Polyols - FODMAPs) are to blame [26122473] [29102613] [30158962] [27993525].

What's the problem with following a gluten free diet, you might ask? Turns out that gluten free diets are not always well tolerated and may be associated with adverse health effects such as weight gain, inadequate fibre intake, nutrient deficiencies and a decrease in the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria [19445821] [27887897]. To top it off, these products are often quite expensive and may not be accessible to many people.

Therefore, nutrition experts have been searching for an alternative wheat variety that retains all the nutritional goodness and a healthy bank account too. Enter the Senatore Cappelli variety of durum wheat. This traditional Italian strain of durum wheat contains more fibre, vitamins, and minerals than other varieties, as well as less contamination from pesticides [22629212] [28348574] [24338346] [28290332].

A recent study found that patients of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity experienced fewer overall symptoms after eating pasta made from the Senatore Cappelli durum wheat variety than they did after eating a standard supermarket pasta [30934747]. Reasons for this could be that this durum wheat pasta is made from an ancient, less refined, organic single wheat variety while standard commercial pastas are made from a blend of different highly refined grains. The intense processing and refining of wheat is thought to make these products less digestible as many of the healthy, gut friendly components have been stripped away, thus driving symptoms of NCGS [26364045] [33401796].

Given the many health benefits of this durum wheat variety, these products could well be enjoyed by everyone, not only those with NCGS. So, next time you're in the mood for pasta, reach for the durum wheat variety, your gut will thank you for it later!


Written by
Alannah Mezzatesta, BSc
Nutrition Scientist (ANutr)
 last updated  27th July 2022