Possible Prevention of Diabetes with a Gluten-Free Diet

Nutrients. 2018 Nov 13;10(11):1746. doi: 10.3390/nu10111746.


Gluten seems a potentially important determinant in type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Intake of gluten, a major component of wheat, rye, and barley, affects the microbiota and increases the intestinal permeability. Moreover, studies have demonstrated that gluten peptides, after crossing the intestinal barrier, lead to a more inflammatory milieu. Gluten peptides enter the pancreas where they affect the morphology and might induce beta-cell stress by enhancing glucose- and palmitate-stimulated insulin secretion. Interestingly, animal studies and a human study have demonstrated that a gluten-free (GF) diet during pregnancy reduces the risk of T1D. Evidence regarding the role of a GF diet in T2D is less clear. Some studies have linked intake of a GF diet to reduced obesity and T2D and suggested a role in reducing leptin- and insulin-resistance and increasing beta-cell volume. The current knowledge indicates that gluten, among many environmental factors, may be an aetiopathogenic factors for development of T1D and T2D. However, human intervention trials are needed to confirm this and the proposed mechanisms.

Keywords: NOD mouse; beta cell; beta-cell stress; celiac disease; gluten-free diet; high-fat diet-induced obesity; intestinal permeability; islet of Langerhans; type 1 diabetes; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Diet, Gluten-Free*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*