Gluten is a natural protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and in recent years many people have cut the substance out of their diet, leading researchers to question the long-term effects of such behaviour.
For years, a gluten free diet has been revered as the healthy alternative. It involves removing or lowering a person’s intake of whole grains, and it has been widely accepted as the way to lead a better life.
However, a recent study by a team of US-based scientists found that cutting out whole grains might actually lead to health problems, and in particular, chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease.
Whole grains have been linked to numerous health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease. As a result, the team has issued a statement: “unless a person has celiac disease, they should not shy away from gluten.”
Researchers reached this conclusion via an extensive study of more than 110,000 US health professionals, who periodically answered questions over a 26-year period about the different foods they consumed. From such questions, the team was able to estimate how much gluten each patient had in their diet, as well as whether or not they experienced a heart attack during the study.
According to the study, “after dividing the subjects into five groups, the researchers found that those who ate the most gluten did not have a higher risk of heart attack than those who ate the least. In fact, the data showed that gluten initially appeared to be linked with a lower risk of heart attack.”
The researchers have reinforced the fact that although the study suggests that a gluten-restricted diet will not reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, it is purely observational and cannot draw any concrete conclusions between cause and effect.
However, any time you eliminate whole categories of food you’ve been used to eating, the risk of nutritional deficiencies is heightened. Furthermore, the scientists involved believe there is enough evidence in the data to show that the reduction of gluten, and in particular, whole grains, may lead to specific heart-related health problems...so don’t shy away from all gluten just yet, it might just do more harm than good!
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