Gluten-Free Foods May Contain More Toxic Metals

The weighted geometric mean concentration of estimated urinary total arsenic, defined as total arsenic minus arsenobetaine and arsenocholine, was almost two-fold higher for those on a gluten-free diet (geometric mean ratio, 1.9), after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics and urinary creatinine. However, University of IL researchers report this trending eating regime may have a hidden danger - toxic metals. The problem is that rice flour tends to accumulate a lot of mercury and arsenic from fertilizers. Although they occur naturally in the environment, these metals are believed to increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological illness when taken in high doses.

There are more than 30 gluten-free beers on the market and new technologies developed by large beverage players such as Doehler and DSM, brewers can now produce gluten-free beers with conventional raw material such as barley and wheat.

Study author Dr Maria Argos said: "These results indicate that there could be unintended consequences of eating a gluten-free diet".

Walk into any grocery store and you will surely find a shelf devoted to gluten-free products.

The common name for proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye is gluten, which acts like a glue that helps the plant hold its shape.




In order to compensate, gluten-free products oftentimes contain rice flour as a substitute for barley, rye, and wheat.

The team surveyed around 7,480 people on their eating habits. Based on the results, 73 of those who consumed gluten-free foods had elevated levels of arsenic in the urine and mercury in the blood.

Could the gluten-free diet craze be exposing people to excessive levels of arsenic and mercury? One possible reason is that many believe keeping clear of the protein reduces harmful inflammation. Symptoms of the disorder include abdominal pain, ulcers, and anemia. Only one percent of Americans suffer from this disorder, but nearly one quarter of the American population reported switching to a diet which is free of the protein. The study might question the safety of a gluten free diet, but it shows no direct link between the diet and the high toxin levels. Poor ol' gluten has been blamed for everything from bloating and depression to gas, acne, and brain fog. Even celebrities Miley Cyrus, Kourtney Kardashian, and Gwyneth Paltrow have touted the diet as a path to a healthier lifestyle.

"While our study is cross-sectional and relies on self-reported data regarding gluten-free diets, it does suggest that future studies are needed to more fully examine exposure to toxic metals from consuming gluten-free foods", the authors write. And of course, that's fine; whatever anyone eats is their own business, whether they've received a diagnosis that makes eating gluten free a necessity or whether they simply choose to forgo gluten because they feel better doing so.

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