We are witnesses of a great food changing era. The range of gluten-free foods available in supermarkets has increased massively in recent years.
The reason for this new ‘trend’ is rised number of people diagnosed with coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity, and partly because many celebrities have praised gluten-free diets.
But for how much longer this will be a global health fad? New research from Harvard University has found a link between gluten-free diets and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Let’s make it clear. Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as wheat, barley and rye. It is useful in food production in order to give elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and keep its shape, and providing a chewy texture.
Many of you are not conscious of the fact that many types of foods contain gluten, including less obvious ones such as salad dressing, soup and beer.
So, this protein that is found useful in food production is a nightmare for people with coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the body mistakenly reacts to gluten as if it were a threat to the body. The condition is quite common, and it affects one in hundred people, but few of them have the disease diagnosed.
The popularity of gluten-free diets has surged, even though the incidence of coeliac disease remained stable due to increasing numbers of people with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.
These people who don’t have coeliac disease, but practice gluten-free diets exhibit some of the symptoms of this disease without immune response to it.
In each of these cases, avoiding gluten in foods is the only reliable way to control symptoms, which may include bloating, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The bad thing is the fact that many people without coeliac disease or gluten sensitivity are now turning to gluten-free diets as a healthy alternative to a normal diet, without any evidence for beneficial effects.
The Harvard group behind this story, have reported that there is an inverse association between gluten intake and type 2 diabetes risk which means that THE LESS GLUTEN FOUND IN A DIET- THE HIGHER THE RISK of developing type 2 diabetes.
The findings come from large studies in which 200,000 people were included. Of those 200,000 people, 15,947 cases of type 2 diabetes were confirmed during the follow-up period.
The results show that those who had the highest intake of gluten had an 80 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who had the lowest levels of gluten intake.
This study has important implications for those who either have to avoid or choose to avoid gluten in their diet.
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that affects more than 400 million people and this number is certain to increase for many years to come.
Once diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it is almost impossible to revert back to being healthy. This means there is no cure for type 2 diabetes.
This type of study design is rarely as good as a prospective study where you follow groups of people randomly assigned to either have low or high-gluten diets over many years. However, prospective studies are expensive to run and it’s difficult to find enough people willing to take part in them.
While there is some evidence for a link between coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes, this is the first study to show a link between gluten consumption and the risk of type 2 diabetes.
It may be time to reconsider food choices for those who choose a gluten-free diet. At the end, it does not seem as healthy as we all thought.