A recent research found that a gluten-free food contains high levels of toxic metals. Individuals who consume a gluten-free diet might be at risk for increased exposure to mercury and arsenic – toxic metals which can lead to neurological effects, cancer, and cardiovascular disease, according to a report in the journal Epidemiology.
Even though less than one percent of people in the U.S have celiac disease, gluten-free diets remain all the rage in this country. Still, a new research suggests potentially harmful ingredients might be hiding in this trendy kind of food.
Experts at the University of Illinois at Chicago suggest that rice flour that is used as a substitute for wheat, have a tendency to accumulate toxic metals, which can increase the risk of neurological illness, heart disease, and cancer. The mercury and arsenic get into the rice via fertilizers, water, and soil, and other research has previously associated the toxic metals to rice. 2
Related: The Forbidden Rice: Black Rice Has The Most Impressive Health Benefits For Weight Loss, Diabetes, and Heart Disease
Although preliminary, the newest findings suggest the potential risks of the diet, if adopted voluntarily, can outweigh its much-touted still clinically unproven benefits that include weight gain and bloating.
For the research, authors surveyed around 7,480 individuals about their diet routines and found that among the 73 persons who reported eating gluten free, levels of mercury in their blood and arsenic in their urine were more concentrated than that of the other study respondents. Actually, compared with the gluten consumers, arsenic levels were nearly 2 times as high and mercury levels were 70% higher in the gluten-free contributors. 3
Seeing as about 1/4 of people in the U.S. reported eating gluten free in 2015 — according to UIC, a 67% increase from 2013 — it is safe to say you likely know someone who is consuming said toxic metals. So, should we be worried whether a gluten-free food contains high levels of toxic metals?
The study author Maria Argos, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, said in an interview with Fox News 4 :
“In Europe, there are regulations for food-based arsenic exposure, and perhaps that is something we here in the United States need to consider. We regulate levels of arsenic in water, but if rice flour consumption increases the risk of exposure to arsenic, it would make sense to regulate the metal in foods as well.”
Though consuming those metals is associated with poor health effects, Argos noted that more research should be done before drawing assumptions about whether going gluten-free itself poses a severe health risk.
And according to Argos, the results specify that there can be unintended consequences of consuming a gluten-free diet.
Other experts have stated that gluten-free diets that are necessary for individuals with celiac, as gluten could be deadly, also might lead to greater consumption of sugar, calories, and fat, which producers add to help make up for lost taste.
According to latest studies, individuals who reported consuming gluten-free had higher concentrations of mercury in their blood and arsenic in their urine, than those who didn’t. The arsenic levels were 2 times as high for persons eating a gluten-free diet, and mercury levels were around 70% higher.
The above-stated outcomes indicate that there may be unintended consequences of consuming a gluten-free diet, according to Maria Argos, the author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology at the UIC School of Public Health 5 . However, until the experts perform the research in order to determine if there are corresponding health concerns that might be related to higher levels of exposure to mercury and arsenic by eating gluten-free, more studies are needed before the scientists determine whether the gluten-free diet poses a significant health danger.
As a nutritionist, I am deeply concerned whether a gluten-free food contains high levels of toxic metals. I will stay tuned to find out more information and provide you a detailed report of this case, along with my other colleagues from Your Health Tube.
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I would like to be kept informed with updates into the dangers and or advantages of a gluten free diet. I am a heart attack surviver (coronary artery disease with a stent) and would appreciate future study/information. Also, I have a dead thyroid and take medication in place of it. I recently have been diagnosed with a fatty liver and would appreciate information on how I should deal with that. I would like nutritional information that would be helpful for any and or all of these issues. Finally, I have two herniated lower discs and one is resting on my sciatica nerve. What kind of treatment(s) should I look in to? Thank you in advance for your knowledge and efforts in assisting and educating me!
Hi Edward! Thanks for your comment. It is the best to consult with your doctor before taking any action. Our advice shouldn’t replace one on one doctor consultation.