Years of nutritional research produced findings that have made gluten a pariah in the food world. This is why a lot of people have now gone on gluten-free diets to ensure that their health is in the best condition. However, according to recent research, it looks like a gluten-free diet is not so friendly to your health as previously thought.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein combo found mainly in wheat products that has been found to be exhibiting the elastic nature of flour when used for dough. It is mainly what makes bread hold together. Gluten is mainly composed of the proteins glutenin and gliadin, and has been found to be indigestible, making it the only protein with that status. Gluten intake has also been tagged as the cause of celiac disease, a condition that leads to damage to both intestinal tracts (small intestine and large intestine).
Where Can Gluten Be Found?
Aside from wheat, gluten can also be found in other grains. These include rye, barley and of course any products that include those grains. It is also present in kitchen products such as mayonnaise, ketchup, malt vinegar, salad dressings, soy sauce, gravy, marinade as well as syrup. So, generally speaking, since wheat and other grains are added to scores of food products, we all consume much more gluten then we realize.
Gluten-Free Diet and Exposure to Arsenic and Mercury
According to researchers from the University of Illinois, Chicago, a gluten-free diet may be linked to a higher exposure to toxic metals, arsenic and mercury in particular. The study, which involved 73 participants some of whom had been adhering to a gluten-free diet for more than a year, yielded some alarming results: higher levels of arsenic and mercury were detected in the bodies of the participants that opted for gluten-free food.
The urine and blood test samples from the subjects exhibited 70 and 200 percent more mercury and arsenic respectively. This raises the question of the relationship between gluten-free diets and the accumulation of toxic metal substances in the body. The researches don’t understand so far why and how the absence of gluten in a diet leads to that accumulation, so further studies are needed to confirm the connection.
Part of the reason why the arsenic and mercury levels in those who consume gluten-free diets are much higher is because of the substitutes for gluten used. The most common gluten substitute is rice flour, which might contribute to accumulation of arsenic, mercury and other toxic substances in the body.