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Consuming too little gluten can harm health
A gluten-free diet has become a kind of trend in recent years. Such a form of nutrition can also have a negative impact on human health. Researchers have now found that a low-gluten diet can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes for those affected.
The scientists from the internationally recognized Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston found in an investigation that eating a higher gluten diet appeared to be associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The doctors released the results of their study at this year's American Heart Association meeting.
Consuming grain fibers protects against type 2 diabetes
For their research, the experts analyzed the data from almost 200,000 volunteers. The data used for this came from three previously conducted long-term studies. The results show that consumers of too little gluten tend to consume too little grain in general. However, the consumption of these fibers is a well-known protective factor for the development of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases and various types of cancer, the authors explain.
The trend of the gluten-free diet can lead to more diseases of type 2 diabetes
According to the studies, eating enough gluten is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the researchers add. Thus, the new trend of a gluten-free diet could have a negative impact on the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
What are gluten?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins that is found in wheat, rye and barley, for example. Gluten give bread and other baked goods the elasticity during baking and lead to a tough texture in the finished products. The scientists explain that there is a small percentage of people who cannot tolerate gluten due to so-called celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten. However, in recent years, a gluten-free diet has also become popular among people without such health restrictions. So far, however, there is no evidence that reducing gluten consumption leads to long-term health benefits, the authors add.
Gluten-free foods contain less fiber and other micronutrients
We wanted to determine whether the lack of gluten consumption affects people's health for no apparent medical reasons, explains Dr. Geng Zong from Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston. Gluten-free foods often have less fiber and other micronutrients. Because of this, they are less nutritious and often have an increased price. Micronutrients are components such as vitamins and minerals. Experts advise people without celiac disease to consider reducing gluten consumption in order to avoid chronic illnesses and especially diabetes.
High consumption of gluten reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
When investigating, the researchers found that most of the study participants had less gluten intake than 12 grams a day. The subjects with the highest consumption of gluten among the participants showed a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes, say the doctors. This effect was found in the thirty-year follow-up examination.
13 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes was found in volunteers
After further considering the potential effects of cereal fiber, the people who were among the 20 percent with the highest consumption of gluten had a 13 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to participants with the lowest daily consumption of gluten (a little less than 4 grams). In the course of the study, a total of 15,947 cases of type 2 diabetes were identified in the follow-up examination. The study was done before a gluten-free diet became popular, the researchers say. The current trends of a gluten-free diet are therefore not taken into account in the results.
More research is needed
The subjects stated their eating habits during the examinations. For this reason, the results should be carefully checked again in future medical studies. Nevertheless, the scientists advise people who do not have a medical need to avoid gluten, that they should rethink a gluten-free diet. Only a very small part of the population has celiac disease and really has to avoid consuming gluten, the experts explain. (as)