Gluten-Free Fad Diets Might Have a Diabetes Downside
For millions of people who don’t really need a gluten-free diet, eating less gluten might actually have a downside. Research presented at the AHA Epi|Lifestyle meeting yesterday found that people who ate less gluten had a slightly higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The investigators found no difference in the risk of weight gain.
Gluten-Free Facts and Fictions
A gluten-free diet is a no-brainer for someone with celiac disease or confirmed gluten sensitivity. But gluten-free fad diets have reached far beyond folks with actual gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Some people falsely believe it will help them lose weight or give them magically better health. The fad diet book Wheat Belly helped to spread that belief.
This new data is a useful reminder that food fads can have a downside. Becoming fixated on demonizing a particular food or nutrient can lead to surprises down the road.
Not the Final Word
This research does not prove that gluten-free diets cause diabetes. All these data show is an association, not a cause and effect relationship. Maybe gluten actually helps to lower diabetes risk. Or maybe people who avoid gluten eat less fiber. But it’s equally possible that something else is confounding these findings. Sorting those questions out will require more definitive research.
Until then, avoid gluten if you must. But unless you have a confirmed sensitivity, cutting gluten is pointless. In fact, it limits your choices for whole grains. And whole grains have real benefits for health.
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March 10, 2017