Gluten can be beneficial for your diet

Researchers say fibre in foods such as cereals is protective and people should not avoid gluten unless they have coeliac disease Getty Images

Researchers say fibre in foods such as cereals is protective and people should not avoid gluten unless they have coeliac disease Getty Images

People who deliberately cut gluten from their diets could be increasing their risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to research.

Researchers analyzed information from three large, long-term studies-the Nurses' Health Study I and II, and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study-involving 199,794 study participants over a 30-year period.

In their study, researchers found that those who ate the most gluten had a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes in the 30 years of follow-up study. Naturally, those who ate less gluten also consumed less cereal fiber, which is known to protect against Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers at Harvard University set out to determine what health effects avoiding gluten had on those people with no specific medical reason to avoid the substance. Those who ate less gluten consumed less cereal fiber than the other participants, which potentially left them more vulnerable to the disease.

'People without celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes'. And that could be contributing to your diabetes risk.

"It's unclear whether the gluten is actually the thing that's protecting them from getting type 2 diabetes", he said.

Susan Weiner, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, holds a similar view on the research. "The cause is not conclusive, but this seems likely".

But professors in the United States said people who don't eat it have a 13 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those with higher levels of gluten.

The study has added weight to warnings from nutritionists anxious by the excessively high glycemic index of processed gluten-free products that lack fiber and nutrients and may contain additives. "These foods have low nutritional value, pack on calories, and are low in fiber", she told Healthline.

So while this is not at all a definitive study, it does certainly build on a body of work in recent years that suggests gluten-free diets are not entirely healthy choices without direct underlying medical reasons.

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. About 1 percent must abstain due to celiac disease.

"It's important to remember that going gluten free is only necessary if you have coeliacs disease, otherwise you may simply be unnecessarily restricting yourself", she said.

Only foods and beverages with a gluten content less than 20 parts per million are allowed.

Granted, for those with celiac disease, even a little gluten can be unsafe.

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