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News Gluten: Friend or Foe? by Sadie Russell, FNP

Gluten: Friend or Foe?

Recent research presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention / Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health 2017 Scientific Sessions suggests that eating more gluten may be associated with a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Those that eat less gluten are missing out on protective factors against developing Type 2 diabetes.

Geng Zong, Ph.D., one of the authors associated with the study stated “We wanted to determine if gluten consumption will affect health in people with no apparent medical reasons to avoid gluten…Gluten-free foods often have less dietary fiber and other micronutrients, making them less nutritious and they also tend to cost more. People without Celiac disease may reconsider limiting their gluten intake for chronic disease prevention, especially for diabetes.”

My impression is that this is one piece of the puzzle that will continue to develop in future years regarding what constitutes a healthy diet from individual to individual and what role our gut biome plays in our physical and mental health.

There is other new gluten research confirming Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. The diagnosis is made after confirmation that a patient does not have Celiac Disease, anemia, or major red flags. Then, if a patient eliminates the offending food from their diet, and their symptoms improve, they should stick with the elimination, as long as it does not restrict them too much.

A FODMAPS diet can be helpful for those people with diagnosis including Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

There is more research being done on our gut biome that shows our gut can influence autoimmune inflammatory diseases, food cravings, circadian rhythm, and more.

I think that we will have more information regarding the role of gluten in diabetes and IBS once the gut biome is better understood.

In general, the promotion with gluten-free diets among people without celiac disease should not be encouraged. But you also shouldn’t eat food that you know makes you feel bad. The most important take-away is to eat a varied diet with lots of healthy options, especially vegetables and fruit. There is a lot of delicious eating to be had if you consume the recommended amount of vegetables and fruit!

Speaking of fruits and vegetables, the Great Falls Farmers Market at Civic Center Park is starting Saturday, June 3!

Sadie Russell, FNP-BC

About Sadie Russell, FNP-BC

Sadie Russell, FNP, has been with the Great Falls Clinic since September of 2016. She works alongside Dr. Anna Earl in Family Medicine at the Main Great Falls Clinic campus. Sadie specializes in primary care and chronic condition management, with a focus on prevention wellness. She is currently accepting new patients and referrals at the Great Falls Clinic, 1400 29th Street South. For more info or to schedule an appointment, please call 406-454-2171 or visit


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