Whole grains are known to be one of the most important food groups for preventing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and gluten proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley are believed to be important in diabetes development. Three new studies highlight the importance of whole grains and gluten: consuming whole grains helps prevent T2DM; greater consumption of gluten is associated with a decreased risk of T2DM; however, pregnant women who eat a high gluten diet may increase the risk of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in their children.
Whole-grain Consumption Lowers T2DM Risk
Eating Whole Grains Can Lower T2DM Risk. Authors of this cohort study investigated the association between whole-grain intake and the risk of T2DM in 55 465 men and women.
Author's Insights. Study found whole-grain intake was associated with a lower risk of T2DM per whole-grain serving (16 g/day) for men (11%) and women (7%). For men, the intake of all whole-grain cereal types investigated (wheat, rye, oats) was significantly associated with a lower risk of T2DM, but only wheat and oats intake was significantly associated for women. Among the whole-grain products, rye, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal/muesli were significantly associated with lower T2DM risk.
More Gluten, Less Risk. Authors of this study followed 160 206 women from 2 Nurses' Health Studies and 41 908 men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study to determine the association between gluten intake and long-term T2DM risk.
Author's Insights. Gluten intake was strongly correlated with carbohydrate components intake, especially refined grains, starch, and cereal fiber. T2DM was confirmed in 15 947 people during 4.24 million years of follow-up and dose-response analysis supported a largely linear inverse relationship between gluten intake up to 12 g/day and T2DM.
High Gluten Diet During Pregnancy Linked to Higher T1DM in Children
High Gluten Diet Linked to T1DM in Offspring. A national prospective cohort study derived from health information registries in Denmark examined the association between prenatal gluten exposure and offspring risk of T1DM.
Author's Insights. The incidence of T1DM among children in the cohort was 0.37% with a mean follow-up of 15.6 years. After taking account of potentially influential factors, such as mother's age, weight, total energy intake, and smoking during pregnancy, the risk of T1DM in offspring increased proportionally with maternal gluten intake during pregnancy per 10 g per day increase of gluten. Women with the highest gluten intake vs those with the lowest gluten intake had double the risk of T1DM development in their offspring.