Gluten-Free Diet May Increase Body's Exposure to Mercury and Arsenic, Contribute to Cancer and Heart Disease
Feb 21, 2017 08:51 AM EST
A gluten-free lifestyle has become a health trend these days with the notion that the consumption of food without gluten is a healthier alternative. However, findings from a new published study have shown that gluten-free food could be associated with a higher level of toxic metals. This suggests that the gluten-free diet trend may not be entirely healthy at all.
Published in the Epidemiology journal, the study found that individuals who consume gluten-free food could face increased risks of exposure to high mercury and arsenic levels. These harmful metals are known to play a role in developing life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
Over 7,000 participants completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and 73 people were found to have been following a gluten-free diet. These participants who consumed gluten-free food were likely to have higher levels of arsenic in the urine and higher levels of mercury in their blood compared to those who did not have a gluten-free diet.
Gluten-free food products typically make use of rice flour to replace wheat. Rice has been found to rake in harmful metals, including arsenic and mercury, from water, soil or fertilizers. The researchers, however, said that additional research is necessary to find out whether the gluten-free diet indeed causes unhealthy risks.
Meanwhile, current evidence explains the need for people with celiac disease to take on the gluten-free diet. Gluten, more commonly known as proteins, found in products such as grain, wheat, barley and rye can harm the lining of the small intestine and impede the body’s absorption of nutrients for people with celiac disease.
Over the recent years, however, there have been an increased number of Americans who have turned to gluten-free food as a healthier alternative. According to Science Daily, even popular food chains have begun to make gluten-free food products available for their customers.
According to some, a gluten-free diet is ideal because it reduces inflammation, although such claim has not been backed by scientific evidence. Gluten-free food has also been believed to contribute to weight loss despite a lack of research in this field.