Too little gluten in our diet may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes
Gluten intolerant people and those who suffer from celiac disease can surely feel much better on a gluten-free diet, and even people who aren’t gluten intolerant can improve their overall health by ditching gluten.
Do you know what gluten is? Gluten is a protein found in most grains which may cause gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and celiac disease. Celiac disease is the most dangerous disease under the umbrella term for all gluten-triggered diseases. It is an autoimmune disorder which affects the small intestine and is caused by the consumption of wheat, dye, barley and other grains. It can often be asymptomatic, but may also cause a variety of digestive problems and allergies.
The number of people suffering from this disease is currently rising around the world, mostly due to the westernization of the diet. It is pretty difficult to treat, but adopting a gluten-free diet helps in most cases. Gluten is so dangerous to our overall well-being that most nutritionists recommend avoiding it altogether. However, several recent studies suggest that a low-gluten diet may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The link between gluten consumption and diabetes
Dr. Geng Zong from the University of Harvard and his team of scientists conducted a research on the link between gluten and diabetes. “We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten. Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more,” Dr. Zong says.
The research involved 3 studies and examined almost 200 000 individuals over 30 years. The participants answered food questionnaires every 2-4 years and consumed 12 gr. of gluten on average per day. The studies lasted for about 30 years, and found out that those who consume almost no gluten have 13% lower risk of diabetes.
The study also discovered that those who consumed the highest amount of gluten had a lower risk of developing diabetes during the study’s duration. People who consumed less gluten had a low fiber intake as well, so after adjusting the effect of fiber, the participants in the upper 20% had 13% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
“People without celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes,” Dr. Zong said. Of course, the studies were simply observational, and there’s need for more research on the matter. However, the results clearly indicate that a low-gluten diet may be the one of the most effective solutions against diabetes.