Gluten and type 2 diabetes

According to new research, eating more gluten may be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A small percentage of the population cannot tolerate gluten due to Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, but gluten-free diets have even become popular for people without these conditions.

What is gluten?

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.

The problem with gluten-free foods

Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious

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“We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten,” said Geng Zong, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts.

“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more. People without Celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes.”

Micronutrients are dietary components such as vitamins and minerals.

The findings

Researchers found the following…

  • Most participants had gluten intake below 12 grams/day.
  • Those who ate the most gluten had lower type 2 diabetes risk during 30 years of follow-up.
  • Participants who ate less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fibre, a known protective factor for type 2 diabetes development.
  • Individuals in the highest 20 percent of gluten consumption had a 13 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in comparison to those with the lowest daily gluten consumption (approximately fewer than 4 grams).

The researchers estimated daily gluten intake for 199 794 participants in three long-term health studies from food-frequency questionnaires completed by participants every two to four years.

Study participants reported their gluten consumption and the study was observational, therefore findings warrant confirmation by other investigations. Also, most of the participants took part in the study before gluten-free diets became popular, so there is no data from gluten abstainers.

Source: American Heart Association via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.