Unless you suffer from Celiac disease, you might want to forego the gluten-free products—a new study suggests they may bring a greater risk of type 2 diabetes. Harvard researchers presented their findings at an American Heart Association forum, reports UPI. After studying data from a long-term observational study of 4.24 million people, they found that most participants consumed less than 12 grams of gluten daily. Those who ate low amounts of gluten within that range were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than at the upper end of the range, say the researchers in a press release. Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley, and though a small percentage of people cannot tolerate it, gluten-free diets have become popular with a wider range of people.
"Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more," says one of the researchers. "People without Celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes." The study finds correlation, not causation, but there are already a few theories floating around. One is that the gluten-free versions of foods that are typically made with gluten (cereals, cakes, crackers) often have lots of sugar, and thus attempting to go gluten-free could inadvertently result in a less healthy diet. One thing that could help: A dietitian tells Healthline that those who are on gluten-free diets should take care to make sure they don't eat too many processed foods. (Gluten-free pasta has even more carbs.)