Is a Gluten Free diet unhealthy?
Gluten free diets have come under scrutiny again today following the presentation of a new research from America. The researchers have suggested a diet lower in gluten may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The Harvard University study compared the average gluten content of diets of almost 200,000 participants and followed them up 30 years later to record the incidence of type 2 diabetes. They found a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes in those with the lowest gluten content of the diet. What’s important to consider here is there are limitations of dietary observational studies such as these, which means it’s difficult to pinpoint gluten content of the diet as the cause of diabetes. This is because there are many factors that can influence the risk of developing type 2 diabetes such as lifestyle, exercise and nutritional quality of the whole.
There is a well-established link between type 1 diabetes and Coeliac Disease as both are a type of auto-immune condition but further research is needed to understand any potential relationship with type 2 diabetes.
Ultimately, these headlines bring attention back to the importance of wholegrains and healthy carbohydrates in any balanced diet. Gluten does not need to be excluded from the diet unless medically needed, such as people diagnosed with Coeliac Disease, where presence of gluten can have serious, long term negative health impacts. Increasing awareness and diagnosis of Coeliac Disease through credible, validated tests will help inform those who do need to exclude gluten from their diet – something Coeliac UK have been active in campaigning for.