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Good News About Gluten

A mortality study suggests gluten is getting a bad rap.

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Person holding up bread with gluten in front of their face

These days everyone is seemingly ganging up on gluten. The protein found in the different varieties of the wheat family is blamed for everything from digestive woes to inflammation to contributing to cancer risk. And more often than not it’s people without celiac disease who are sounding the alarm.

But a study in The Journal of Nutrition suggests most people can still eat gluten and have a chance to live well into their golden years.

Investigators from Germany estimated gluten intake in 159,265 participants of the UK Biobank, a prospective cohort study with genetic, physical and health data collected on roughly 500,000 individuals across the United Kingdom from 2006–2010. The average consumption was 8.5 grams a day, with adult males consuming slightly more than females.

After crunching the numbers, intake was not significantly associated with an increased risk for all-cause mortality—including that from cancer in nonceliac people—after adjusting for several confounders. However, there was a positive association between gluten intake and ischemic heart disease mortality which the investigators believe warrants further study. The research did not address other concerns that noceliac individuals often have including digestive issues.

See also: Celiac Disease Curbed by Early Gluten Introduction

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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