Is Gluten Free Food Good For Diabetics Diet?

A Quick Overview

  • Around 10% of people suffering Type 1 Diabetes also suffer celiac disease, as per the reports from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).
  • People with celiac disease may suffer abdominal pain, gas, and fatigue by consuming gluten.
  • The same symptoms may also be seen in people suffering Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)

You may have found a lot of food packages labeled gluten-free on the shelves of grocery stores. If you are a diabetic patient, you might be wondering if gluten free food is good to your health.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is actually a protein found in some grains, such as barley, wheat, and rye. People with celiac disease may suffer inflammation of small intestine by eating gluten. It can cause symptoms like –

Be sure to follow a gluten-free diet if you are suffering celiac disease.

Gluten Free Food

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)

People with a condition Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) may experience some symptoms of celiac disease. These people don’t have the same irritation or inflammation to small intestine to the ones having celiac disease but mental and physical problems are still common in cases of gluten intolerance.

Intolerance to other items in gluten-laded foods like a group of fermentable carbs FODMAPs may lead to mental or physical problems. Sometimes, NCGS causes depression and fuzzy thinking.

Gluten and Diabetes

Around 1 in 100 people are suffering from celiac disease but it is found that around 10% of individuals surviving with Type 1 Diabetes also suffer from celiac disease, as per the American Diabetes Association (ADA). According to a research, there might be a genetic connection between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

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There are some biomarkers in blood which can increase the risk of celiac disease and developing type 1 diabetes. Both of these conditions have a component of inflammation which leads immune system to attack the organs or tissues of the body, such as pancreas or intestines. It doesn’t seem to be a connection between type 2 diabetes and celiac disease.

Is Gluten Sugar Free?

Sugar is usually gluten-free but it doesn’t mean you can start taking it in your diet if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Sugar generally comes either from sugar cane or sugar beets. Even though sugar cane is distant family member of barley, rye, and wheat, it doesn’t have gluten. So, sugar purely made of sugarcane won’t cause reaction if you are going through gluten-free diet.

When to Worry about Sugar?

To be clear, problems generally start with cross-contamination in gluten-free diet sugar, either at home in shared kitchen or at grocery store. Most large stores have sugar in a different section from the flour. So, the similar-looking packages are more likely to mix up. But in some small shops, flour and sugar are stored side-by-side and airborne flour may easily land on the sugar sacks and gluten you when you pour the sugar or handle the package. So, there are chances to get glutened.

To skip this problem, buy sugar only in a large store where it is kept far from flour or be sure to clean up the package well before opening it. In this way, plastic sugar packages are better than paper.

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If plain sugar has been used to bake gluten-laden items, there is also risk to get glutened as it happens if someone sticks a spoon coated with flour on the sugar bag. This kind of cross-contamination is often ignored but it can make you sick any time. If you have a shared kitchen, label your own sack of sugar ‘gluten free’ and keep it at a separate place.

Carbs and Gluten

Gluten is commonly found in several high-carb foods as they are sometimes based on grains. Foods with high carbs can increase blood sugar level. So, you should be careful when consuming them. If you also want to avoid gluten, be careful while reading labels.  If there is no ‘gluten-free’ label, keep in mind that most baked items, pastas, beer, baked items, and snacks have some gluten. Even a small amount of gluten can cause reaction if you have celiac disease and gluten intolerance in worst cases.

If you are up for starchy foods for your diabetes-friendly food, you may find a lot of options which don’t have gluten, such as –

  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Corn
  • Wild and brown rice
  • Soy
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Legumes
  • Sorghum

If you are switching to starchy, gluten-free carbs, you should still count on carbs. If you skip gluten-containing grains, you may find a lot of healthy options. Keep in mind that gluten-free items may have more sodium or added sugars for taste, so you should check labels properly. Even on common foods, the amount of carbs may vary if they are gluten-free. Less fiber is found in most gluten-free items. This way, carbs may be absorbed more rapidly that can raise blood sugar level.

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Should I Switch to Gluten-Free Diet?

Remember, there is no need to switch to gluten-free diet if you don’t have NCGS or celiac disease. They don’t seem to have many benefits to your health, when compared to other diabetic-friendly diets.

If you have both celiac disease and diabetes, you must switch to gluten-free diet. It’s the only option to avoid the damage and problems caused by having even a bit of gluten. Be sure to ask a dietitian who is certified also, when going gluten-free.

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