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Do you have type-2 diabetes? Then stay away from gluten-free diets

Published on:16 November 2020, 17:40pm IST
If you or someone you know is diabetic, and is looking to try a gluten-free diet, make an informed decision after reading this piece.
Seema Singh
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Can gluten-free diets help diabetics? Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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The term ‘gluten-free diet’ can be confusing for many people. There is a common misconception about a gluten-free diet—many people think it is a diet designed for losing weight. But a gluten-free diet is just a way of eating that helps to heal our intestines, so that our bodies can absorb all the required nutrients from our diet in a more effective manner. Gluten is a protein, which is found in grains such as wheat, barley, and rye, among others.

Gluten does not necessarily cause any harm to diabetics, and most people don’t necessarily need to follow a gluten-free diet. 

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Here’s what you need to know about gluten

There are actually two types of health conditions where the body reacts to gluten differently according to the type of the disease: gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. 

Gluten is strictly prohibited for people who develop celiac disease or any kind of allergy that is caused by gluten intake. But there are many foods that contain gluten that can increase the blood sugar levels.

Also, read: Manage diabetes with these 4 practical tips from a nutritionist

Another fact that we have to keep in mind is that type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are linked, and both of them cause severe gluten intolerance within the body. Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease are both autoimmune conditions. According to a study, it has been observed that up to 19.7% of people with type 1 diabetes also have celiac disease. Though celiac disease is rare, if it remains undiagnosed, it causes inflammation within the intestine that prevents the body to absorb necessary nutrients from food.

It has been observed that before the symptoms of celiac disease start appearing, doctors diagnose type 1 diabetes in children. Some researchers have found that a gluten-free diet is helpful for children with type 1 diabetes. Researchers claim that if a woman follows a gluten-free diet, it can help to prevent type 1 diabetes in the baby. 

celiac disease
Go gluten-free only to avoid the chances of you getting celiac disease. Image courtesy: Shutterstock.
Gluten-free diets are not recommended for people with type-2 diabetes

Some research suggests that gluten, to some extent, helps to reduce the risk of obesity. As we all know, obesity is a crucial risk factor for type 2 diabetes, therefore a gluten-free diet may be helpful for people with type 2 diabetes

But, this is not proved scientifically yet. Moreover, doctors and clinical nutritionists do not recommend a gluten-free diet for type 2 diabetic patients. 

For many years, a gluten-free diet has been considered healthy. But, recent research has found that in the long run, it may enhance the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Although there is no established scientific proof that less-gluten intake will contribute to diabetes, the researchers are worried about the long-term consequences on health with the reduction in gluten consumption. 

Most of the experts, diabetes physicians, and dieticians suggest that until someone is diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or celiac disease or any kind of gluten allergy, it’s better to focus on the quality and quantity of carbohydrate intake, rather than avoiding gluten. 

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Seema Singh Seema Singh

Seema Singh is the chief clinical nutritionist at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj