Gluten free isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes, you’ve got to give it to the gluten free’ers, their food is occasionally better. Maybe you even feel healthier going for the gluten free op. But according to new research, unless you have Coeliac disease going, gluten free is more of a health risk than you thought.
The study undertaken by Columbian University Medical Centre investigated gluten’s ripple effect on the body. The study involved 110,017 non-coeliac people completing questionnaires between 1986 and 2010. Researchers found it interesting that although the chance of suffering a heart attack was not significantly more common in people who ate the most gluten to those who ate the least, that eating less gluten could heighten the chance of heart disease. Researcher Benjamin Lebwohl confirms this: “Our findings show that gluten restriction has no benefit, at least in terms of heart health, for people without Coeliac disease.”
When you have Coeliac disease, it means your digestive system reacts badly to gluten causing small bowel damage. As gluten is linked to the molecule zonulin, known to cause inflammation in the gut, those who give it up report they feel much healthier. However, some scientists believe this new feeling of health might just be psychological rather than physical. Those who do not suffer from this condition who are avoiding gluten found in whole grains including oats, wheat and rye are risking their heart health, as these grains have been proven to boost its function. “Based on our data, recommending a low-gluten diet solely for the promotion of heart health does not appear warranted,” Andrew Chan, a fellow researcher said. According to a study conducted earlier this year your risk of type 2 diabetes increases in a gluten free diet as well.
Lebwohl and his team will continue their research on gluten and its effects on our health. Their next step will be looking at gluten intake in relation to cancer and autoimmune diseases. With more and more people going for gluten free diets despite the relatively low cases of Coeliac disease, Lebwohl is concerned: “This certainly benefits companies that sell gluten-free products. But does it benefit the public? That is the question we wanted to answer.”