Consuming gluten-free food may up diabetes risk

Individuals who regularly eat gluten-free foods such as starch-containing rice, cassava, corn, soy among others, may be at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to those who eat gluten-rich foods, according to new research.

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, gives bread and other baked goods elasticity during the baking process and a chewy texture in finished products.

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micro-nutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more,” said Geng Zong, research student at the Harvard University in Massachusetts, US.

The findings showed that individuals who daily consume up to 12 grams foods rich in gluten may be at lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Individuals in the highest 20 per cent of gluten consumption had a 13 per cent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in comparison to those with the lowest daily gluten consumption (approximately fewer than four grams).

A small percentage of the people cannot tolerate gluten due to celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

However, “people without celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes”, Zong said.

People who ate less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fibre — a known protective factor for Type 2 diabetes development.

The results were presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Lifestyle and Cardio metabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions in Arizona.