A gluten-free diet not only helps those suffering from gluten intolerance, but may also help in preventing diabetes and stimulating weight loss. One of the ways that a gluten-free diet may improve health is through stabilizing blood sugar levels. Having stable blood sugar means less cravings for high carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods, which increase insulin levels. It also may translate into eating less food, since feeling ravenous often comes from experiencing low blood sugar.
Gluten intolerance, or celiac, has become commonly known only over the last several years. The author of "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods," Bette Hagman, writes that that issues with gluten may have their roots in the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, as humans ate primarily meat, vegetables, and fruits before this time. Artaeus of Cappadocia wrote of symptoms relating to gluten in A.D. 250, and Samual Gee, M.D., wrote an article in 1880 identifying food as the probable cause of digestive symptoms.
A gluten-free diet may help with stabilizing blood sugar levels. Removing foods that traditionally contain gluten, such as bread, cakes, cookies and beer also often brings down the sugar content of the diet. According to the book, "Living Gluten-Free For Dummies" by Danna Korn, eating a nutritious gluten-free diet means generally low-glycemic foods are ingested, which helps maintain blood sugar levels. High glycemic foods found in many wheat-based products stimulate insulin levels to rise quickly and then fall, which can eventually lead to illnesses such as diabetes.
A gluten-free diet may help with several disorders related to blood sugar levels. Besides helping to prevent diabetes and low-blood sugar, according to the book, "Gluten-Free for a Healthy Life" by Kimberly A. Tessmer, illnesses such as chronic fatigue and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, may be helped with a gluten-free diet. Both chronic fatigue and ADHD are sometimes associated with blood sugar levels. Tooth enamel, pancreatic disease, and disorders of the liver, gallbladder or spleen may also benefit from a gluten-free diet, in part because of the lower sugar content of gluten-free foods.
The length of time it takes for a gluten-free diet to stabilize blood sugar levels depends on the individual. For those suffering from celiac or a gluten intolerance, Dr. Paul F. Miskovitz, in his book, "The Doctor's Guide to Gastrointestinal Health," notes that improvements can start within three days of beginning the diet. For some, it may take longer, from three to six months, to see stabilized blood sugar levels on tests.
If symptoms indicate celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, check with your doctor who may want to determine diagnosis through testing. Be sure not to consume too many gluten-free flour-based foods once eating a gluten-free diet, as these foods may be high in sugar and refined rice grains. "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Eating" notes that many packaged gluten-free foods are not enriched with folate, B-vitamins and iron as wheat-based breads and flours normally are. Therefore, you may need to increase other foods that contain these vitamins, such as lentils, spinach and sunflower seeds.
- "The Gluten-Free Gourmet Cooks Comfort Foods"; Bette Hagman; 2004
- "Living Gluten-Free For Dummies"; Danna Korn; 2010
- "Gluten-Free for a Healthy Life"; Kimberly A. Tessmer; 2003
- "The Doctor's Guide to Gastrointestinal Health"; Dr. Paul F. Miskovitz; 2005
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Eating"; Eve Adamson; 2007