March 14th, 2017

Did You Know: Going Gluten-Free Could Be Putting Your Health At Risk

The good side of gluten. 

New study links gluten-free diets to increased Type II diabetes risk. 

As presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions, new research shows a link between low gluten diets and increased risk for developing Type II diabetes. 

This news may come as a shock to some, as the term “gluten-free” has nestled itself comfortably under the “healthy living” umbrella in recent years. Between the influx of gluten-free products on the market, the growing number of people getting diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, and the overwhelming amount of celebrities glorifying the benefits of gluten-free diets, many people fall for the ever-so-tricky health halo and associate going gluten-free with living “healthier” and weight loss.

Of course, going gluten-free provides a host of heath benefits for those who are celiac or have a gluten sensitivity, but the number of people who actually need to be cutting gluten out of their diets is only about 7% of Americans. And 7% of the American population is far from everyone! For those who aren’t intolerant to gluten, following a gluten-free diet can mean an overload of refined carbohydrates and weight gain–after all, French fries, soda and lard are all certified gluten-free! As it turns out, banning something from your diet that you don’t have a sensitivity to isn’t only unnecessary, but can be harmful to you health too. 

The study out of Harvard University combined data from three long-term studies, resulting in a 30-year observational analysis of almost 200,000 people. Researchers found that diets higher in gluten were associated with lower risk for developing Type II diabetes; people who ate the most gluten, were at less of a risk for Type II diabetes. Additionally, it’s important to note that participants who ate less gluten also tended to eat less cereal fiber (tisk, tisk!), which is a proven protective factor against Type 2 diabetes.

While adopting a gluten free diet is the only way to alleviate symptoms for people who do have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, it is unnecessary for those who do not have suffer such an affliction. In the long run, developing Type II diabetes leads to world of other health issues on its own. And in the present, adopting a gluten free diet, or cutting down on gluten intake, can make meeting your daily fiber needs difficult, which can seriously impede weight loss efforts. Moral of the story: (unless you’re among the 7% of Americans diagnosed with celiac or gluten sensitivity) gluten-free is NOT the way to be. 

Still thinking about going gluten free? Read Beyond The Gluten Free Gimmick: How To Go Gluten Free and Actually Lose Weight.