Study: Gluten can prevent Type 2 diabetes

Dive Brief:

  • Research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions showed that gluten-rich diets are associated with a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to Food Business News
  • People who rank in the highest 20% of gluten consumers were found to have a 13% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, compared to people who had the lowest daily gluten intake. People who eat less gluten also tend to eat less cereal fiber — an ingredient known to protect from Type 2 diabetes development. 
  • “Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious, and they also tend to cost more. People without celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes," Geng Zong, research fellow at the department of nutrition at Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said in Food Business News. 

Dive Insight:

Gluten is one of today's biggest consumer no-no ingredients, second only to sugar. And while the numbers of people diagnosed with celiac disease and other gluten allergies have been growing, many consumers are swearing off gluten with no medical reason to do so.

This is largely due to the growing popularity of personal nutrition. Even if consumers aren't allergic to certain ingredients, they may eliminate them from their diets because they make them feel bloated or sluggish. There is also a number of consumers who reject gluten simply because others are. They have no real understanding of what gluten actually is or how it affects the body.

If the recommendation from this research trickles down to general consumers, it's unlikely that consumers who have sworn off gluten will use it as a reason to start eating it again — the consensus against gluten is simply too strong right now. Dwindling interest in cereal products, what used to be a major source of gluten in American diets, is also driving down gluten consumption. Many consumers see Greek yogurt or fruit and vegetable smoothies as healthier morning foods, and sitting down to a bowl of cereal in the morning is too time consuming. 

It's also likely that health-conscious consumers won't be afraid of the threat of Type 2 diabetes, a malady associated with unhealthy eating and physical inactivity. Still, this could be a potential pitch for cereal manufacturers trying to lure consumers to cereal or cereal-based product innovations like breakfast bars.

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Filed Under: Ingredients
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