The Surprising Health Risk Of Your Gluten-Free Diet
You may not want to ditch those sarmies quite yet
The gluten-free backlash just built up a little more momentum. Not only did a recent study link gluten-free foods to mercury and arsenic exposure, but now it appears the diet may also raise your risk of type 2 diabetes. At least, that’s what new research presented at the American Heart Association Meeting suggests.
In a long-term observational study of nearly 200,000 people over 30 years, researchers found that those with the highest 20 percent of gluten consumption had a 13 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those with the lowest daily gluten consumption.
Those who ate less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fibre, which could be a key part of their findings. That’s because fibre seems to be a protective factor against type 2 diabetes.
In fact, a prior study from the National Cancer Institute discovered that those who ate the most fibre were 22 percent less likely to die from any cause than people who ate the least—and that cereal fibre was even more beneficial than that from fruits and vegetables.
Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious, researcher Geng Zong, Ph.D., of Harvard University said in the press release. And that could be contributing to your diabetes risk.
Gluten-free foods are necessary for the 1 percent of the population with the autoimmune condition celiac disease. But lots of people without a medical need to follow the diet are doing so: In fact, the number of people without celiac disease who adhered to a gluten-free diet more than tripled from 2010 to 2014, a study in Jama Internal Medicine found.
Many of these people follow the gluten-free diet for perceived health reasons, but this study provides more solid evidence that it might not be bringing the benefit many think—and may even be causing harm.
“People without celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes,” Zong said in the press release.