People suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disease benefit from a low- gluten diet or even avoiding gluten altogether. But a large number of people without any medical or health reason adopt the low gluten diet believing it is healthier or to improve their lifestyles. However, new research points to a low-gluten diet as a factor in raising the risk of diabetes.
Gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat, barley, rye, and foods that contain these cereals, as well as baked foods such as cakes or bread. People with Celiac Disease, an autoimmune disorder, avoid gluten because their immune system responds by attacking the small intestine causing untold misery. However, adopting a gluten-free diet has taken on a 'fad diet' status with more and more people insisting on it despite unclear health benefits for those unaffected by celiac disease.
Some nutritionists have gone so far as to advise against avoiding gluten unless there is a medical reason. A well-balanced diet, including fruit & vegetables, as well as whole-grain wheat and other foods containing gluten is recommended for everyone.
Latest research hints that a low-gluten diet may affect health adversely by raising the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Gluten-free foods frequently contain less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious. They are also more expensive.
Participants of the study with the highest gluten intake - up to 12 grams per day - displayed a lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Fibre is known to protect against Type 2 diabetes, but those who ate less gluten also had a lower cereal fibre intake.
Participants who ate 20% more gluten were 13% less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes, compared with those who took less than 4 grams of gluten per day. People without celiac disease need to reconsider their gluten intake to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes. More research is required to corroborate the findings. The study did not look at those who have removed gluten from their diet completely.