Even if there is less than one percent of U.S. adults with celiac disease, recent research suggests that 25 percent of Americans consumed gluten-free foods. A group of experts from the University of Illinois has conducted an extensive study during which they analyzed all ingredients in gluten-free foods.
As such, they discovered that some of them were potentially dangerous. More precisely, rice flour usually accumulates toxic metals which increase the risk of neurological illness, heart disease, and cancer. Rice flour is a common wheat substitute.
However, it might contain mercury and arsenic. These toxic metals are found in water, soil, and fertilizers. It is worth mentioning that previous studies have shown that there might be a link between toxic metals and rice.
Mercury and arsenic are two naturally occurring metals, but if people consume foods containing these toxic metals, they have an elevated risk of developing potentially life-threatening conditions. 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 other words, there is no study supporting the fact that gluten-free diets help people lose weight. In the latest study, the scientists analyzed roughly 7,480 people and interviewed them about dietary habits. Based on the results, 73 of those who consumed gluten-free foods had elevated levels of arsenic in the urine and mercury in the blood.
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. In 2015, roughly 25 percent of U.S. adults reported consuming gluten-free foods, which means an increase of 67 percent compared to the statistics in 2013.
According to Maria Argos, lead author of the study and assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois School of Public Health, several European countries have already taken active measures to reduce the food-based exposure to arsenic.
Argos believes that the U.S. government should consider adopting such regulations as well. Nevertheless, the researchers underline the fact that their study didn’t find any cause-and-effect link between gluten-free foods and toxic metals.
The experts note that more research is needed in order to find out more about the risks related to food-based exposure to mercury and arsenic.