When people hear the word “probiotics” they immediately associate it with a healthy digestive system, with healthy skin, and good immunity. They can be found in yoghurt and certain types of fermented foods and help maintain the balance of intestinal flora. Many people take probiotics supplements to benefit from these effects. However, new research contradicts some of the information we were familiarized with, stating that more than half of the top-selling probiotics pills contain traces of gluten.
Gluten is definitely not very popular with dieticians, who associate it with the celiac disease, various digestive problems, even cancer, and list it as a cause for inexplicable constant fatigue, especially among the people who are gluten-intolerant. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley endosperm.
The study, conducted by researchers at the Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC), ran tests on the 22 most popular probiotics and the results showed that 55 percent of them contained traces of gluten.
Lead study author Samantha Nazareth, who is also a gastroenterologist at the Columbia University Medical Centre said that many people who suffer from the celiac disease currently take probiotic supplements. The main reason why this study was initiated was that these people had symptoms associated with gluten intakes, so their dietary supplements were tested to see if they had been contaminated with gluten. However, except for four of the brands tested, where the amounts of protein were higher, most of them contained extremely small doses – less than 20 parts per million of gluten. Thus, according to Food and Drug Administration Standards, they might still be regarded as gluten-free. Only two of the brands did not meet the standards imposed by the FDA.
The authors of the study consider that the probiotics threaten the life of patients who suffer from gluten intolerance so the label standards should be stricter from their points of view: “We know that most patients with celiac disease only develop intestinal damage when consuming more than 10 milligrams of gluten daily. Still, these findings raise troubling questions,” said Benjamin Lebwohl, from Columbia University Medical Centre, who is also one of the authors of the research.
It still remains uncertain why there are traces of gluten in these supplements and what the level of threat is for patients who take them.
The results of the study were presented during the meetings held at the Digestive and Disease Week in Washington DC.
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