There are two types of diabetes. In type 1, the pancreas does not produce sufficient amounts of insulin, a hormone necessary for cellular utilization of sugar in the blood. Type 2 diabetes, the more prevalent type, occurs when the body produces sufficient insulin, but does not utilize it efficiently. Both types result in high blood sugar and other complications that result in a diabetic having to carefully monitor what he eats. Type 1 diabetes is moderately correlated with celiac disease, a type of allergy to gluten.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune and digestive disorder in which the body attacks gluten in foods as if it was a pathogen. The best treatment is to avoid eating foods that contain gluten. Only about 1 percent of Americans have celiac disease, but that figure is as high as 8 percent for Americans with Type 1 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is not strongly correlated with celiac disease, but it is possible for an individual to have both.
Diabetics are advised to eat whole grains because these foods digest more slowly and have less impact on blood sugar levels. Those with celiac disease cannot eat most whole grains, however, because they contain gluten. There are some gluten-free whole grains that celiac diabetics can enjoy. These include rice, corn, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, amaranth, nut flours, arrowroot flour, sorghum and tef, an African grain.
The gluten-free diet is complicated by a variety of foods that don’t necessarily always have gluten, but potentially have gluten-containing ingredients added, or are processed on machines that also process gluten. Oatmeal is a perfect example of a food that does not naturally contain gluten, but is often combined with other ingredients that do. Breakfast cereals, cookies, candy, soup and brown rice syrups are all likely to contain gluten. Artificial meat products, soy sauce, stuffing, gravy and even some lunch meats have gluten-containing ingredients, which means they are not gluten-free.
Diabetics need to eat foods that have a low impact on their blood sugar. The healthiest foods for everyone, including diabetics, are raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables. And, as long as they're not prepared in a sauce, they're guaranteed gluten-free. Other gluten-free foods safe for diabetics are nuts, seeds and dairy products, including cheese and eggs. Beans are also naturally gluten-free, but prepared dishes or canned beans will often contain ingredients with gluten.