Question From My Inbox: Do foods containing gluten harm your heart?
My first reaction when I get that question is “here we go again.”
However, addressing the many fads and misconceptions of the day is almost a full-time job that requires straight answers. So here we go…
Do Foods Containing Gluten Harm Your Heart?
Here’s the short answer – Gluten does not increase the risks of Heart Disease.
A recent study, reported by the British Medical Journal, found no significant long-term association between gluten intake and the risk for heart disease (aka Coronary Heart Disease).
➡ In fact, the consensus is that avoiding gluten may result in a lack of whole grains, which in turn increases the risk of Coronary Heart Disease.
What gluten does affect are the outcomes for those diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a serious genetic autoimmune disease that affects an estimated 0.7% of people in the United States.
➡ Celiac Disease is characterized by intestinal damage and inflammation caused by consumption of gluten, a storage protein found in wheat and related grains.
➡ Left untreated, people with Celiac Disease face serious health consequences, including osteoporosis, thyroid disease, and even certain cancers.
It follows then that the first recommendation for Celiac patients is to avoid gluten…and there’s the reason for the confusion from heart patients…
In response to clinicians and those who go on TV shows and pretend to be clinicians, a follow-up analysis was conducted which showed that the number of people without celiac disease following a gluten-free diet increased more than 3-fold from 2009-2010 to 2013-2014.
Some people did a great job selling this to the American public.
The incorrect reasoning for cutting out gluten likely relates to the perception that gluten carries adverse health effects, although several findings strongly suggest that such diets may be nutrient-deficient.
But thank the universe for applied medicine, which is the maintenance of health through the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders of the body.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City examined long-term associations between gluten intake and Coronary Heart Disease.
➡ During the 26-year follow-up period, 2,431 women and 4,098 men suffered both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks.
➡ The long-term study concludes that the results do not support a link between a gluten-restricted diet and reduced risk for Coronary Heart Disease in people without celiac disease.
In fact, as mentioned earlier, avoiding dietary gluten may work against you by resulting in a low intake of whole grains, whose cardiovascular benefits are well documented.
The researchers concluded their report with this statement:
“The promotion of gluten-free diets for Coronary Heart Disease prevention, among asymptomatic (no symptoms) people, without celiac disease, should not be recommended.”
So…unless you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, please continue to consume fiber-rich foods along with the fruits and vegetables that are crucial for good health and long lives.
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