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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Is Your Gluten-free Diet Killing You?

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Is your gluten-free diet killing you? The short answer is: Maybe.


    Caption: Photo: CC--TheMonnie

    Celiac.com 04/20/2017 - More people than ever are following a gluten-free diet, but does the diet carry health risks that could cause harm in the long run? That's a very possible scenario, according to a report published in the journal Epidemiology.

    The report presents strong data to suggest that numerous gluten-free food staples contain high levels of toxic metals, which means that many gluten-free eaters could face higher risks for cancer and other chronic illnesses.

    Moreover, the US studies both reveal that people who follow a gluten-free diet have twice as much arsenic in their urine as those who eat a non-gluten-free diet. They also have 70 per cent more mercury in their blood, along with high levels of other toxic metals, such as lead and cadmium. Clearly the report invites further study to determine if these potentially negative effects are merely statistical, or if they are actually represented in corresponding numbers of gluten-free dieters.

    So, look for more study to see if people eating gluten-free are actually having higher rates of cancer and other toxic metal-related disorders.

    Meantime, you may be able to mitigate negative effects of a gluten-free diet by choosing products with lower levels of toxic metals. California-grown rice, for example seems to have lower levels compared to Chinese rice.

    If you follow a gluten-free diet for medical reasons, keep an eye out for symptoms related to toxic metal exposure, and consult a doctor if you think you are experiencing such symptoms.

    Read more at: Celiac.com.

    Read more at The Daily Mail.


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    There is a major fact missing from this article. When I first looked through the article quickly, I concluded that it is impossible for a gluten-free diet to be high in metal. Then, I read a bit more carefully, and realized that it is gluten-free foods that are being discussed. That sounds to me like foods that normally contain gluten, but were formulated differently to avoid gluten. I don't eat much of that junk, partly due to the high cost and partly because I prefer more natural foods. If you take a normal diet, and then remove the glutenous items from it, it is absurd to think that you could be getting higher levels of metal. I suppose, it is possible that you get about the same amount of metal, but your body does not eliminate as much of it, but that is not what is being said here.

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    There is a major fact missing from this article. When I first looked through the article quickly, I concluded that it is impossible for a gluten-free diet to be high in metal. Then, I read a bit more carefully, and realized that it is gluten-free foods that are being discussed. That sounds to me like foods that normally contain gluten, but were formulated differently to avoid gluten. I don't eat much of that junk, partly due to the high cost and partly because I prefer more natural foods. If you take a normal diet, and then remove the glutenous items from it, it is absurd to think that you could be getting higher levels of metal. I suppose, it is possible that you get about the same amount of metal, but your body does not eliminate as much of it, but that is not what is being said here.

    What the article is saying is that gluten-free ´staple´ foods are often composed of rice and other grain substitutes to produce a flour, (btw, that doesn't make them junk food). The article states rice grown in China is higher in toxic metals - makes a lot of sense to me, it's a highly industrial nation. When crops are grown, any toxicity in the soil is absorbed into the crops. Rice, is different from other crops, because it´s grown under flooded conditions. This makes the arsenic locked in the soil more readily available, meaning that more can be absorbed into the rice grains. Consequently rice contains about 10-20 times more arsenic than other cereal crops.

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    They should be looking at how many of these people have also taken fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, etc.) since these drugs wipe out key bacteria that contribute to the body's ability to detoxify itself. If the mechanisms for detox are compromised then you have a build up of heavy metals.

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    Guest Jefferson Adams

    Posted

    There is a major fact missing from this article. When I first looked through the article quickly, I concluded that it is impossible for a gluten-free diet to be high in metal. Then, I read a bit more carefully, and realized that it is gluten-free foods that are being discussed. That sounds to me like foods that normally contain gluten, but were formulated differently to avoid gluten. I don't eat much of that junk, partly due to the high cost and partly because I prefer more natural foods. If you take a normal diet, and then remove the glutenous items from it, it is absurd to think that you could be getting higher levels of metal. I suppose, it is possible that you get about the same amount of metal, but your body does not eliminate as much of it, but that is not what is being said here.

    It seems you have misread or misunderstood this article. The article is discussing elevated levels of heavy metals in the blood of people who eat gluten-free diet. One known culprit is rice, which can have high arsenic levels, depending on the source of the rice. Also, numerous other non-wheat grains can carry elevated levels of heavy metals. The data is clear about that. The actual cause may require a bit of digging, but your comment that "If you take a normal diet, and then remove the glutenous items from it, it is absurd to think that you could be getting higher levels of metal," is simply not accurate. Rice is part of a "normal" diet, as are numerous other grains that may contain elevated levels of toxic metals. The problem is likely not solely due to processed foods, but is likely due to their raw ingredients. Stay tuned for more research on this topic.

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    Although I agree herbicides/pesticides/heavy metals are dangerous for human consumption, people are oblivious to some of the "most toxic" chemicals currently on grocery shelves. Seed & plant oils (not labeled as extra virgin) contain: hexane [a gasoline byproduct], deodorizers, bleach, defoaming agents & much more. The FDA does not require manufactures to test for chemical residues! With the rise in gastric cancer in our youth, one must ponder whether or not processed foods containing: canola (from a poisonous plant), safflower, sunflower, grape seed, cottonseed (highest in pesticide levels) and other "heat & chemical processed" oils are a contributing factor. Forewarned is forearmed.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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