Heavy Metals in Gluten-Free Diets | Natural Detox Health Blog

Date: 03/07/2017    Written by: Beth Levine

Toxins Linked to Gluten-Free Diets

Heavy Metals in Gluten-Free Diets | Natural Detox Health Blog

Thinking about going gluten free? You’re hardly alone if you are. Despite the fact that doctors say that fewer than 1% of people would benefit from a gluten-free diet, they have nevertheless become increasingly popular over the past few years as many people think this way of eating can help them lose weight, reduce fatigue, and improve mental clarity. And while those are all good goals, a gluten-free diet might not be the safest way to achieve them for those who do not have celiac disease or a severe wheat allergy. In fact, new research shows that eating gluten free is associated with a higher risk of exposure to arsenic and mercury.

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The study, which was a joint effort by scientists at the University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Chicago, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, found that individuals who adhere to a gluten-free diet may end up with considerably higher levels of both arsenic and mercury in their bodies.1 Arsenic is a naturally occurring chemical element that can contaminate drinking water and food sources and contribute to the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Mercury is a known neurotoxin that is associated with adverse health effects that include muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and numbness.

Gluten-free diets were initially designed for those suffering from celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that prevents sufferers from adequately absorbing nutrients due to a reaction to gluten proteins in wheat, rye, and barley. Therefore, gluten-free diets are often based on other forms of carbohydrates such as rice and oat flour, allowing practitioners to avoid consumption of gluten triggers.

While fewer than one percent of Americans have a diagnosis of celiac disease, a whopping 25 percent of Americans said they consumed gluten-free foods in 2015. Now, in some of these cases, it’s entirely possible that they have not yet been diagnosed with celiac or that they have a wheat sensitivity, which can produce similar but less severe problems. But in plenty of other cases, people may just be jumping on the bandwagon because gluten-free diets have been promoted in the media lately.

By switching to a gluten-free diet, you will be consuming more foods made with rice flour since that is the most common wheat substitute. The problem is that rice often absorbs any metals present in the soil in which it is grown, in the fertilizer used to cultivate it, and in nearby water supplies. And arsenic and mercury may very well be among those metals.

Based on urine and blood samples taken from participants, the study found that those with gluten-free diets had nearly twice the levels of arsenic and 70 percent more mercury than their peers eating more conventional diets. This type of exposure over the long term could potentially increase the risk of numerous health issues, including everything from gastrointestinal issues to cancer and from immune system problems to skin rashes.

If you do have a sensitivity to gluten and “actually” feel better when you reduce your intake or cut it out of your diet completely, don’t despair. You can still eat gluten-free with less of a focus on rice-flour products. You might want to speak with a nutritionist to get some alternative ideas to add to your menus. Try to rotate the grains you use, incorporating more quinoa, corn, buckwheat, and such to lessen your use of rice. You can also keep your fiber intake high by substituting vegetables for grain-based items in some cases, such as when putting peanut butter on celery rather than on rice crackers, for example.

And detoxing is another valuable tool to keep heavy metals from accumulating in your body. Using a colon cleanse and heavy metal detox formula every few months is an essential way to prevent heavy metal toxicity. The right formula will help flush out the buildup of arsenic, mercury, and other dangerous substances that may come from your diet or anywhere else in the environment.

  • 1. Bulka, Catherine M.; et al. "The Unintended Consequences of a Gluten-Free Diet." Epidemiology. 15 February 2017. Accessed 18 February 2017. http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Citation/publishahead/The_Unintended_Consequences_of_a_Gluten_Free_Diet_.98893.aspx.

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    Submitted by Suzanne on
    March 14, 2017 - 8:56am

    What Dr. Peter Osborne suggests is that we all go grain free. All grains have a form of gluten in them -- not the same gluten as in wheat, rye, barley and oats, but another form. So this is what I have done. Another possibility is that people are intolerant of the pesticides. I think it's both.

    Submitted by Reed Bernstein on
    March 14, 2017 - 9:04am
    Boulder , Colorado

    Hm, did you folks do your homework on this? One might be able to conclude that a diet high in certain types of rice causes high arsenic, but there is no logical conclusion to be drawn that this is because of not eating gluten. Plenty of people avoid gluten but don't eat rice. Also, this "tastes a little off" with regard to who did the studies, and I wonder if you looked at who funded them. And then there's the question of organic rice versus conventional. The title is very mis-leading. Frankly I'm a bit disappointed as I consider Jon B himself to be someone who does his research. This article brings up considerable doubt about that belief, and bit of caution regarding his products as well.

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 14, 2017 - 12:34pm

    Hm. We did do our homework. You might want to reread the article, though, because it appears you missed most of the key points in it.

    • It didn’t say that everyone on a gluten free diet eats gluten-free carbohydrates—just that they “often” do
    • As the article pointed out, much of the rice that people are consuming in gluten free diets comes not from eating rice itself, but from eating gluten-free foods that are often made with rice flour.
    • The study found that, on average, people on gluten free diets had 70% more mercury in their blood and urine than people on conventional diets. That’s notable.
    • If you clicked on the link to the study, you would have noticed that:
      • It was conducted by researchers out of the University of Illinois, University of Michigan, Dartmouth, and the University of Chicago
      • It was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health
      • Not sure why these researches and this funding would “taste off.”
    • All the article is saying is that if you eat a gluten free diet, watch what you eat. Not everything labeled gluten free is free of heavy metals.
    • Oh, and Jon Barron didn’t write the article. At the very top it says that it was written by Beth Levine. 

    Bottom line, though, not sure why, if you actually read the article, it calls into question Jon Barron’s beliefs or the quality of his products.

    Submitted by Dawson on
    March 14, 2017 - 10:50am
    TRENTON , New Jersey

    I consume your Superfood formula. Is this a gluten free Product? Is the level of mercury and arsenic monitored to ensure low Levels?

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 14, 2017 - 11:51am

    The Baseline of Health Foundation doesn’t make or sell any products. Jon Barron’s Superfood formula is made and sold by Baseline Nutritionals, Inc. The Superfood is extremely low in gluten, but it is not gluten free. And every single batch of every single Baseline Nutritionals product is tested for heavy metal content. They actually post the heavy metal numbers for their products. Check out the last bullet in the FAQ section of their Superfood product page. https://www.baselinenutritionals.com/products/maintenance/private-reserve-superfood.php

    Submitted by brian Rose on
    March 14, 2017 - 10:58am
    Collingwood, Ontario ,

    Would ORGANIC oats and rice make a difference regarding arsenic and mercury content?

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 14, 2017 - 11:51am

    Not necessarily. It depends on the soil where they’re grown. That’s why Jon Barron is constantly scouring the world for ingredients that are both organic AND low in heavy metals.

    Submitted by Malcolm Achtman on
    March 14, 2017 - 12:19pm
    Calgary ,

    The reason you hear arguments about the pros and cons of a gluten-free diet is due to different perceptions of what a gluten-free diet is.

    The food industry and the "average Joe" and many doctors think gluten-free means removing wheat, barley and rye and substituting things like rice and oatmeal, or worse yet, flours made from so-called "gluten-free" grains (e.g. rice flour, tapioca starch, etc.).

    When experts like Dr. Peter Osborne and Dr. William Davis speak about going gluten-free, it's a completely different thought process. They basically want you to go grain free. They're not super-worried about increased arsenic and mercury in rice. They're worried about the inflammatory nature of all grains. They're worried about how all grains raise one's blood glucose and provoke insulin resistance. They're worried about autoimmune diseases caused directly or indirectly from eating grains.

    I would encourage people to seek out information from Dr. Peter Osborne and Dr. William Davis and avoid making decisions based on a sound bite, or a newspaper headline, and in this case, even Jon Barron's blog article.

    Submitted by Tim Mahoney on
    March 14, 2017 - 12:40pm
    LA , California

    I think the point of this article is that many people who go gluten free do not necessarily eat healthier, they still buy packaged gluten free products which are worse than their regular diets. So, any time you do any kind of elimination diet, you have to have HEALTHY substitutes.

    Submitted by virginia on
    March 14, 2017 - 2:14pm

    So, do Chinese and Japanese suffer from these toxins, or is their rice different?

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 15, 2017 - 10:52am

    It doesn’t work like that. Heavy metals in rice is not really about pesticides—especially when it comes to arsenic  (although in certain areas, industrial pollution can be a factor). Arsenic is an extremely common element naturally present in varying amounts in soil all over the planet. The variation is not by country, but by specific geographical areas within countries. It’s possible to find very clean rice that comes from China, as well as rice filled with heavy metals. The only way to tell is to test each batch of rice you use. It’s what Jon Barron has to do whenever he buys rice protein to use in one of his formulas, for example. It’s tested for heavy metal content before it’s used in the formula, and then Jon has every batch of every finished product he formulates tested for heavy metals.

    Submitted by Rachel on
    March 14, 2017 - 2:25pm
    Poughkeepsie , New York

    First off, what "doctors" say less than 1% would benefit? Perhaps only 1% have celiac- but gluten allergy and gluten sensitivity affect millions of people and manifest in a myriad of different ways.
    Secondly, (echoing from comments above) how about instead of attacking the diet- attack the greedy, murderous food and production intustries which have polluted and poisoned the land, water, and food itself!

    We grow organic things here and export them to China and Japan, and we import from there where even "organic" is unverified and unregulated.
    [As seen in this expose about the Whole Foods import scandal]

    Submitted by Deborah Scheller on
    March 28, 2017 - 9:27pm
    New Tripoli , Pennsylvania

    For anyone to not trust Jon Baron or anything that is written here on his behalf should not even continue to read his miracles that ONLY HE HAS THE GUTS TO TELL US IGNORANT HUMANS. I TRUST HIS WORD WITH EVERY BONE IN MY BODY! There isn't a single thing that anyone could prove he said wrong! Maybe if everyone would read the article again, and again and again until it is finally understood the way it was meant to be understood then there wouldn't be any question in mind. Think about it logically first! Ask yourself why would Jon mislead us? Why would he tell us something wrong? HE WOULDNT!
    It's the person reading it that's the problem!
    Soooo many ppl today just look for there to be something wrong! Instead of that, look for the lesson we are being given FOR FREE by a very generous and caring man!
    You ppl are NOT RESEARCHERS AND FOR YOU TO SAY THE THINGS YOU HAVE ABOVE JUST PROVES JUST THAT! It also shows the lack of knowledge we all have considering ALL THE LIES WE HAVE BEEN TOLD OUR ENTIRE LIVES BY DOCTORS , VETERINARIANS, our parents, grandparents ETC! So stop and think about it and re read it until it makes sense! If it doesn't make sense , it is probably because you misunderstood it! Just like a lot that is mis interpreted in the Bible! Stop thinking into this to this degree! Trust this man! He's NOT LIKE THE REST!

    Submitted by BaselineFoundation on
    March 30, 2017 - 8:01pm

    Thank you Deborah, we passed this on to Jon.  It sure is nice when he is appreciated! Smile

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