Avoiding gluten may be seen as a healthy way to eat but new research shows including the protein in your diet may lower your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
The Harvard University study found those who consumed higher amounts of gluten had a 13 per cent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes compared with those who consumed little gluten.
In the study of almost 200,000 people, those who ate low levels of gluten also tended to eat less cereal fibre, known to protect people against type 2 diabetes, say the researchers, who presented their findings at the American Heart Association forum recently.
“We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten."Geng Zong, Ph.D
“Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fibre and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more.
“People without coeliac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes.”
People with coeliac's disease must avoid gluten because their immune system responds to the protein by attacking the small intestine.
However, a growing number of Australians choose to avoid gluten because of perceived health benefits.
The study found that participants who had the highest gluten intake - up to 12 grams per day - had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the 30-year follow-up period. Those who ate less gluten also had a lower cereal fiber intake. Fiber is known to protect against type 2 diabetes.
Those who consumed the most gluten – up to 12 grams a day -- were 13 per cent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, compared with those on the lowest intakes, below 4 grams a day.
One piece of bread contains 4.8 grams of gluten.
The study assessed gluten consumption through questionnaires carried out every two to four years over 30 years, and overall, participants consumed under 12 grams of gluten per day.