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Published: Sat, March 11, 2017
Medical | By Garry George

Study Finds Link Between Gluten-Free Diet And Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Study Finds Link Between Gluten-Free Diet And Type 2 Diabetes Risk

In their study, researchers found that those who ate the most gluten had a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the 30 years of follow-up study.

A gluten-free diet strictly eliminates foods with the protein gluten, which is primarily found in grains, such as wheat, barley, rye, and the rye and wheat hybrid triticale.

Research fellow Dr Geng Zong, from Harvard University's TH Chan School of Public Health, in MA, said: 'We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten.

The increase in people opting for free-from diets has been partly down to the rise of celebrity food bloggers.

It also found that those eating the highest 20 per cent of gluten had a 13 per cent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared with those eating up to four grammes a day.

Researchers at the American Heart Association meeting presented new data, analyzing the diets of almost 200,000 people.

However, even some people who do not have Celiac disease or an intolerance to gluten believe that gluten-free diets are healthier than those that include gluten products, and the researchers wanted to see whether this belief might have any scientific merit, said lead study author Geng Zong, a nutrition research fellow at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

The team approximated the gluten consumption for 199,794 individuals enrolled in three long-term studies: the Nurses' Health Study (NHS) I and II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS).

Gluten-free? It might not be the healthier option after all. That's because fiber seems to be a protective factor against type 2 diabetes.

Dr Zong said: "Our findings suggest that gluten intake may not exert significant adverse effects on the incidence of Type 2 diabetes or excess weight gain".

"Additionally, if they ate cake, crackers, and cookies which were gluten free without looking at carbohydrates or calories, that could have caused an increase in weight associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes".

The proportion of the population whose bodies genuinely cannot stomach gluten is actually very small, so it could be that people who are perfectly tolerant of gluten are unknowingly increasing their risk of diabetes by avoiding it.

A couple reasons to reconsider jumping off the gluten-free bandwagon.

Granted, for those with celiac disease, even a little gluten can be risky.

The researchers added several caveats to their findings, noting that this was an observational study where participants were reporting their food habits themselves, and there was no data from completely gluten-free diets available as the information was gathered before those food trends became widespread.

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