Dr Chris Harrison explains
Novo Farina’s Dr Chris Harrison explains the reality of recent reports linking the risk of heart disease by following a Gluten Free diet
The BBC, the Telegraph and the Times (amongst others) have reported on the BMJ Article written by Harvard academics on the long term effects of reduced gluten consumption and the possible increased incidence of heart disease.
Not reported in the UK press is that the article actually reports on the hypothesis that eating gluten increases heart disease - which they claim to show is not the case. Specifically their advice is that reducing gluten with the goal of reducing heart disease is not supported by the evidence.
The article does not make the claim that reducing gluten increases the risk of heart disease. There is an increased incidence of heart disease in cohorts who ate a lower gluten diet although the authors point out that the difference is not statistically significant when any other factors are taken into account - including BMI, diabetes, drug use, alcohol, prescription medicine use, or parental history of heart disease, amongst others.
Furthermore, they state that gluten intake was negatively correlated with alcohol intake, smoking, total fat intake and unprocessed red meat intake. This suggest strongly that any increase in heart disease in the cohorts is far more likely to be associated with the other lifestyle factors than the gluten intake per se.
We would argue that a balanced, high fibre diet rich in pulses and other low glycemic index carbohydrates is far more important for overall health including maintaining a healthy heart.
Dr Chris Harrison