Published: Mon, February 20, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

Going gluten-free might increase risk of arsenic, mercury exposure, study finds

The growth of gluten-free beer will be driven by increasing health concerns among consumers, new innovations and products and aggressive marketing by retailers about gluten-free products.

"In Europe, there are regulations for food-based arsenic exposure, and perhaps that is something we here in the United States need to consider", study author Maria Argos, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, said in a news release.

Infinium Global Research predicts that the global gluten free beer market will increase at a CAGR of more than 40% over the period of 2016 to 2021. This means that gluten-free foods might actually do more harm than good.

Gluten-free diets are recommended for people with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine upon ingestion of gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Rice flour, used to replace wheat, rye, and barley in gluten-free foods, is known to accumulate toxic metals like arsenic and mercury from fertilizers, soil, and water. The study authors believe that people who consume gluten-free diets on a daily basis won't experience any benefits because they haven't been clinically proven. In fact, compared with the gluten eaters, arsenic levels were almost twice as high and mercury levels were 70 percent higher in the gluten-free participants.

Over the past few years, you may have noticed that a lot of (occasionally smug) people have jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon.

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For the study, researchers from the University of IL at Chicago, University of Chicago, University of MI and Dartmouth University looked at 7,471 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey conducted between 2009 and 2014.

Also, those who followed gluten-free diets had a seventy percent higher level of mercury in their bodies, while the arsenic level was two times higher compared to the participants who consumed regular food.

Arsenic and mercury occur, indeed, in a natural way in the environment, but high quantities in the bodies raise the risk of neurological problems, heart disease, or even cancer.

While traces of mercury was nearly 70 per cent greater in those restricted to a gluten-free diet. Celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Gwyneth Paltrow have all sworn by these diets as tools for improving health and weight loss. You know: Real food, and not manufactured crap from a box. Still, more research is needed before any conclusions can be made about the dangers of gluten-free eating.

Going gluten-free? A new study shines some light on potentially unwanted side effects of skipping that morning bagel.

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