Switching to a gluten-free diet is nothing new – and our supermarket shelves are now stacked from floor to ceiling with brands eager to cash in.
Others have jumped on the bandwagon because it not only sounds trendy, but it can actually help you lose weight.
That’s why the latest research on the downside to gluten-free eating is a little surprising, to say the least.
Published in Epidemiology, a new study finds that gluten-free eaters have higher levels of arsenic and mercury in their blood.
Maria Argos, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the study’s senior researcher, notes that those who avoid gluten tend to eat more rice and foods with rice syrup as a sweetener—and the grain actually absorbs metals from water, soil, and fertiliser.
Though they aren’t toxic levels—and everyone has some amount of mercury and arsenic in their blood—the levels among the gluten-free participants in the study were higher than what’s considered normal.
So, going gluten-free itself is not a danger. But relying too heavily on rice as a replacement for wheat possibly could be, researchers say.
“The health impacts at this level of exposure are unknown,” Dr. Argos adds.
“But people should be aware of what they are eating. They are potentially consuming much more rice than they realise.”