If you’ve recently been diagnosed with celiac disease it is likely you’re still adapting to a gluten-free lifestyle. It may seem overwhelming at first to a celiac patient to begin the gluten-free road to recovery, as there are many challenges to face in adjusting to a gluten-free diet.

One question celiac patients have is: "how much gluten is too much?” Even though the amount of gluten that can be tolerated by celiac patients is variable, there is yet a definite agreed-upon amount of gluten that is considered to be acceptable among most celiacs.

In general, research suggests that less than 10 milligrams (mg) of gluten daily is unlikely to cause significant damage to the intestines in most celiac people. However these small amounts could still be enough to make a person feel unwell.

How small is 10 mg? A dime weighs about 2,200 mg (2.2 g). Tricia Thompson, RD, a celiac disease authority explains that a one-ounce slice of regular white bread has approximately 3,515 mg of gluten, or 351 times the maximum daily amount that’s safe for celiac patients. That means even a crumb is too much.

This doesn’t mean that you can cut a slice of bread into 350 little crumbs and eat one of them. Even if you’re maintaining a diet that is otherwise gluten-free, chances are good that you’re still getting some gluten daily. Regulations in most parts of the world allow a product to be labeled gluten-free if it contains up to 20 parts per million of gluten, which is equivalent to about 20 mg per kilo.

“Even a slice of gluten-free bread contains a little over 1/2 mg of gluten,” Tricia says. “So sticking to an entirely gluten-free diet is not only the best way, but the only way, to ensure your gluten intake is at a safe level.”

It may seem tough at first to celiac patients to monitor gluten intake, but with time and practice, it will become second nature. The gluten-free road is full of challenges, but with the right information and in enough time these challenges can all be met with satisfaction.

In am engaged in efforts to raise support and awareness on behalf of the celiac community and for the Celiac Disease Center at the Columbia University Medical Center, headed by Dr. Peter Green, MD. Celiac disease (also spelled coeliac) is an autoimmune disease caused by an allergic reaction to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. An estimated 3 million Americans have it and only three percent of them know it, Dr. Green estimates. Not only do I work towards increasing awareness and support for celiac disease, but I also like to help the celiac community, especially celiac children, make the healthy change to a gluten-free diet.

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