Gordon Smith

Gluten-free begets diabetes hell: Study

gluten

Approx Reading Time-10Well, fudge (from the specialised aisle). It seems that the holy land of gluten-free diets may indeed banish you to the hell of Type-2 diabetes. Thanks, science!

 

 

 

It’s time to make friends with bread again: gluten-free diets may increase the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Put down your kombucha, and drop that organic muffin: your gluten-free wave-riding could be doing you more harm than good.

That’s the finding of a major study by Harvard University, suggesting that health-conscious trendsetters are as much as 13% more at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“Clean eating”, known otherwise as eating only small amounts of gluten – or avoiding it altogether – has no empirical health benefit, and is something that should only be done by those who are genuinely intolerant.

While only around 1% of people do actually have coeliac disease, some estimates have found more than 12% of adults in the UK follow a gluten-free life.

It’s hardly a flash in the bread pan finding, either. Researchers examined 30 years of medical data, collected from nearly 200,000 patients.

Most participants ingested below 12 grams of gluten a day; roughly two or three slices of wholemeal bread.

Of these proud loaf consumers, those eating the highest 20% of gluten had a 13% lower risk of developing diabetes, compared to the under 4 grams ingested by their trendy peers.

There are around 1.7 million Australians living with diabetes, of which 85% have Type 2. While only around 1% of people do actually have coeliac disease, some estimates have found more than 12% of adults in the UK follow a gluten-free life.

Harvard research fellow Dr Geng Zong wanted to see if gluten consumption had any effects on health in people with no medical basis to their wholemeal fears.

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious,” Zong said. “They also tend to cost more.”

More still, the study showed that people who ate less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fibre, a substance known to protect against diabetes.

“People without coeliac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes.”

There are around 1.7 million Australians living with diabetes, of which 85% have Type 2. Couple this with gluten-free being the fastest growing sector in the food industry (according to an infographic from The Gluten Free Lifesaver), the ever-filling ship of celebrities-turned-dieticians, and the prominence of gluten-sceptic chefs like the (in-) famous Sarah Wilson, and it paints a dangerous picture.

Sure, it might be nice to be as hip and with it – at least digestively speaking – as big name stars like Gwyneth Paltrow, and there’s no doubt your smashed avocado tastes just that bit more wholesome atop some gluten-free toast. But when being on top of the social media ladder means some major, life-long health risks, it might be time to leave the Coeliac-friendly food to those who actually need it.

 

Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the big wigs in government to account.

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