Gluten-Free for Diabetics?

wheatA recent study from Denmark demonstrated that a gluten-free diet may eliminate the signs and symptoms associated with diabetes. Dr. Sildorf at Copenhagen University Hospital followed a five-year-old boy who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. When the boy was diagnosed he began a gluten-free/ low-sugar diet and insulin therapy. After just five weeks, the boy’s doctors determined that he no longer required the insulin therapy. Sticking to the gluten-free diet more than two years later the boy still has no need for insulin medication.

What’s gluten got to do with it? It’s a second hand nutrient…

Sorry, I can’t resist a Tina Turner reference, but seriously folks, why is everyone going gluten-free these days? Just five years ago celiac disease sounded bogus and most doctors told you that it was. Now anything sans gluten seems like a health food.

The issue with gluten is that many of us have become “intolerant” or “allergic” to it in the sense that it causes gut inflammation and prevents proper nutrient absorption. Important to note is that while many people will experience stomach upset after eating gluten rich foods, many will not. So it may be a safe assumption that we might all benefit by eating less of it. And perhaps all autoimmune conditions may improve from the elimination of gluten in the diet.

For diabetics it isn’t only the gluten in grains that must be avoided. The high glycemic load (or glucose potential) of the gluten containing foods make them problematic as well. Many of these foods don’t necessarily fall into the “sweets” category but are digested as such. These include wheat, barley and rye products like bread, crackers, bagels, pastries, tortillas and snack foods. Rice and oats are the most willing stand-ins for wheat but these too melt into sugar as you digest them. And if you choose corn because it is free of gluten remember that it also is usually genetically modified, presenting a host of additional worries as it too melts into sugar in your body.

If you’re thinking that our culinary landscape has become a minefield that requires careful navigating, you’re right. And diabetics do not have exclusive rights to this predicament. All conscientious eaters need to know where the dangers lie to avoid metabolic catastrophe. Avoiding processed food is a good place to start. Generally, this refers to things that come in boxes and bags with a long shelf life, gluten-free processed foods like rice crackers and potato chips included. Instead, embrace a “real food” eating style that includes loads of vegetables, some fruits and nuts and pastured animal protein. This approach will improve a diabetic metabolism because it is inherently low in sugar and gluten-free!

Andrea DiMauro is the founder of the website Food Truth. For more great information on how to actually eat healthy and for inspiring recipes of seasonal real foods, check out the Food Truth app РFREE in in the App store! and visit

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