Friday, October 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Diet with Heart-Healthy Results

Gluten-Free Vegetables and Fruits for Heart-Health

Dietary Changes can Overcome "bad" Genetics

If you ever had concerns about having "bad genes" or a family / genetic predisposition to heart-disease, your concerns may be alleviated a bit after seeing the results of a recent research-study (on 27,000 people) which showed that simply by skewing your diet heavily toward fresh fruits and vegetables, you can essentially counteract the otherwise negative impact your "bad genes" could exert upon your health.

Here is a summary of excerpts / findings from the study:
"A long-held mantra suggests that you can't change your family, the genes they pass on, or the effect of these genes. Now, an international team of scientists, led by researchers at McMaster and McGill universities, is attacking that belief.
[...]
The researchers discovered the gene that is the strongest marker for heart disease can actually be modified by generous amounts of fruit and raw vegetables.
[...]
We observed that the effect of a high-risk [for cardiovascular diseases] genotype can be mitigated by consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables.
[...]
The results suggest that individuals with the high risk genotype who consumed a prudent diet, composed mainly of raw vegetables, fruits and berries, had a similar risk of heart attack to those with the low risk genotype."
This is a fantastic finding that shows even genetics do not "seal your fate" when it comes to serious conditions like heart-disease.  And, as I see it, if you are already (as a Celiac Disease sufferer) used to substantial dietary modifications to accommodate the gluten-free requirements of one condition, you certainly have the willpower and practice to take up the challenge to overcome the potential health-implication of "bad genetics" if you feel the need to do so.  Sure, eating fruits and raw vegetables may not be that exciting, but if it can help you avoid the complications of yet another potential disease, the reward could be well worth the dietary restrictions.  

One of my biggest concerns is simply the availability of affordable fruits and vegetables. This has been a concern of mine for a long time, and has become even more pressing in recent years of lackluster economic growth coupled with high inflation in food and produce items (especially fresh fruits and vegetables!).  We all know the cost of prepared gluten-free foods is nearly insane, and fruits and vegetables are also quite expensive.

The simple fact is, many of us are going to have to find a way to cultivate our own produce in order to eat such a heart-healthy diet. This is, in part, just a matter of supply-and-demand, and if we all plant gardens and raise our own vegetables, we have increased supply while lowering demand (at the markets); not to mention that when we raise our own vegetables we know exactly what they have (or have not) been exposed to during the growing cycle.  And, when the recommendations for this heart-healthy (and gluten-free, by default) diet call for 5+ servings per day of these healthy foods, we are going to have to eat a LOT of fruits/veggies; as such, it'd be nice to know exactly what we are ingesting with each serving (I'd say to purchase organic-only, but wow!... if you thought fresh fruit and vegetables were expensive in general, wait until you see the price of organic options).

If you want to read a more complete summary of the study (originally published in the current issue of the journal PLoS Medicine), see this ScienceDaily link.  The article dives into a few more specifics about the "9p21 genetic variants" that were considered in this study, as well as the ethnic breakdown of the 27,000 individuals (European, South Asian, Chinese, Latin American and Arab) in the study.  This finding on the interplay between genes and diet in cardiovascular disease is certainly an interesting one whether you are on a gluten-free diet or simply want to lower your risk of heart disease in general.  In addition, based on quite a few other studies I have read, this type of diet is surely beneficial to diabetes and blood-sugar management too.

Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information.

5 comments:

Harisham said...

Very Practical and Informative

Dianne said...

I have proved this to be the case recently. Although I don't have particularly bad genes for heart disease. I did have high cholesterol which is an indicator for heart disease risk. I went on my own self imposed campaign to reduce my cholesterol by reducing animal fats and hey presto six months later my cholesterol level had dropped

Jaclyn @ Justins Nut Butter said...

Yay for sustainability! I love the idea of people growing their own fruits and veggies,that is how we should do it!

Me said...

It is very important to eat healthy when you are on a Gluten free diet.

Jenalyn Cruso said...

Pretty insightful read. Never thought that it was this simple after all. I had used a lot deal of my time looking online for someone to explain this matter clearly to me and you are the only one that ever did that. Great big thanks!