Many people go gluten-free for their health, as they find that reducing or eliminating it can help with a wide range of issues–however a new report has surfaced demonstrating that many of these foods we think of as healthy actually contain alarming levels of arsenic and mercury. 

According to statistics, at least 1 percent of Americans have been diagnosed with Celiac disease and are medically advised to eat a diet free of gluten. Around 1/4 of Americans have reported eating a gluten-free diet in 2015, and many more people eat gluten-free foods occasionally. This means the number of people exposed to these harmful chemicals could be, indeed, very high.

So why do gluten-free foods contain these toxic metals at a far higher rate than non-gluten-free foods? The problem lies within the fact that many of these foods use rice flour as a substitute for the traditional flour that contains gluten.

Recently, it hit the news that those who do not soak their rice or use a large portion of water when cooking it can expose themselves or their family to arsenic poisoning. This is because rice is a crop that is more likely to soak up arsenic and mercury from the ground, fertilizer and water than any other type of plant. As a result, if not properly soaked, this can make its way into your food.

A specific study on gluten-free food and toxic metals was conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Within the study, participants who followed diets free of gluten had their urine and blood tested for toxic metals. Shockingly, it was found that they had twice the amount of arsenic in their urine than those who do not follow a gluten-free diet and 70% higher levels of mercury. 

These toxic metals have been linked to many health issues, including cancer, heart disease and neurological illnesses.

Maria Argos, assistant professor of epidemiology in the UIC School of Public Health, stated:

“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 for exposure to arsenic, it would make sense to regulate the metal in foods as well.”




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