Is Gluten-Free Better For Diabetics:

Gluten Free Lifestyle - Diabetes (15)


If you notice the labels and other related information on various food items available in grocery stores or online stores, you will often encounter gluten-free labels. There are thousands of diabetic patients who are perhaps paranoid about eating food items that have gluten in them.

The question that comes to mind is whether people with diabetes should stay away from gluten. Let us try and find an answer to this and get to know more about the meaning and scope of gluten. So that it will give us a better idea about gluten-free diets for people with diabetes.

What exactly is Gluten?

For an average person, it would be enough to know that gluten is a type of protein. Gluten is in certain types of grains. These grains include rye, wheat, and barley. Gluten is not suitable for those who have inflammation and other such problems. This is because gluten is known to result in inflammation as far as the small intestine is concerned. People with celiac disease need to keep away from gluten. People with celiac disease who make gluten a part of their daily diet may suffer from various types of symptoms, and these include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and pain.
  • Flatulence and gas
  • Anemia
  • Joint and knee pain
  • Muscle pains
  • Fatigue
  • Different types of skin problems and conditions.

Hence, it is vital for celiac disease patients to be careful about gluten in their daily food habits. The question that comes to mind is whether such patients who also have diabetes should go in for a sugar-free diet. While staying away from gluten is recommended, it may not always be possible to stay away from sugar or glucose. Even diabetic patients need energy, and therefore they need to look for some high carbs foods that come with a low Glycemic Index.

Foods with a low glycemic index can help in raising blood sugar levels gradually. It prevents sudden and unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. Foods that come with a low glycemic index take time to get absorbed and digested, and therefore the sugar levels tend to be lower. People with diabetes must stay away from refined sugars because they have a very high glycemic index.

Understanding NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity)

Many people also suffer from a condition known as NCGS, which stands for Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.

Those who suffer from NCGS may not experience the same symptoms associated with Celiac disease. As mentioned above, celiac disease causes inflammation of the small intestine. However, people suffering from NCGS report gluten intolerance which is milder.

Those with NCGS should try and avoid a category of carbohydrates known as FODMAPs, which are fermentable carbohydrates. FODMAPs can cause mental and physical problems, leading to depression and incoherent thinking.

Is There A Connection Between Diabetes And Gluten?

Celiac disease impacts perhaps 1 in 100 people, but 10% of type one diabetes also suffer from celiac disease, as per the reports and studies conducted by ADA or the American Diabetes Association.

Hence, researchers believe that there could be a link between type one diabetes and celiac disease. It would help if you looked for some biomarkers in the blood that could expose you more to the risk of celiac disease.

These people may also stand a higher chance of being affected by type one diabetes because both conditions have a few things in common.

Celiac disease and type one diabetes lead to inflammation, causing the body to attack its immune system, cells, organs, tissues, pancreas, and intestines. However, at the same time, we need to understand that researchers have not been able to identify any link between type two diabetes and celiac disease.

Carbohydrates and Gluten

Many high-carb foods are also rich sources of gluten because most of the high-carb foods are grain-based. It is a known fact that high-carb can increase blood sugar. Therefore if you are a type 1 diabetic patient, you must be careful about the quality and quantity of high-carb foods that you are consuming. While buying grain-based foods, be doubly cautious about the gluten-related labels often found in such food items. Grain-based foods that you desire should have a gluten-free label. If you don’t find one, you can safely assume that these foods have some amount of gluten in them.

Gluten is in beer, baked goods, pasta, and various types of snack items. A person with celiac disease, or NCGS, needs only a tiny amount of gluten to develop intolerance, inflammation, and other related problems. Therefore, such patients should be careful and avoid foods that even have small amounts of gluten.

Gluten-Free Flours For Diabetics

So if you have celiac disease or NCGS and type one diabetes, you must look for the proper diabetes-friendly diet. If you look around and do some research, you will be able to come across dozens of such options. We are happy to list a few gluten-free flour and wheat substitutes for the diabetic diet.

Many diabetic patients believe that switching over to a gluten-free diet means that they would be away from carbohydrates. I’m afraid that’s not right because several alternatives may be gluten-free and have the required easy-to-digest and burn carbohydrates. In other words, these are carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.

However, many gluten-free products come with added sugars or refined sugars. You have to be careful about these foods, and you must spend some time reading the labels carefully. Look for gluten-free carbohydrates that also have a high content of fiber. This will prevent rapid absorption of the carbs, leading to a sudden spike in blood sugar.

The Final Word

If you are free from NCGS or celiac disease, you do not have a problem. There is no need to follow a gluten-free diet. However, if you have diabetes and celiac disease, you should stay away from gluten. You will avoid inflammation and other related symptoms that are common both in celiac disease and those who have type 1 diabetes.