Do Gluten-Free Diets Increase Mercury, Lead, and Arsenic?

Do Gluten-Free Diets Increase Mercury, Lead, and Arsenic?  A recent study says yes. However, there are some very important caveats that will be reassuring to gluten-free dieters. Let’s discuss the details.

If you need help with gluten-free diets, click here.

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Heavy metal toxicity, an unintended consequence of the gluten-free diet.

Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss this issue, because a recent study (1a) did, in fact, show that those on a gluten-free diet had significantly higher levels of lead, mercury, and arsenic in either their blood or urine.

So, is this something that could be detrimental to your health if you’re eating gluten-free or partially gluten-free? Well, the good news is, in my opinion, the answer to that question is no.

Now, while those who diet gluten-free were shown to have higher levels that were significantly higher than controls who did not eat gluten-free, the change from one group to the other—both of those were still well within the normal and acceptable ranges for levels of mercury, lead, or arsenic and cadmium in this study in the sample ranges.

So according to what the normal range for the test values is—let’s say this is the range. Let’s say here’s someone who eats gluten. Here’s someone who eats gluten-free. It was a significant difference from one group to the other mathematically, statistically.

But in terms of, does this have any real world impact or relevance? Is it something that should make you rethink your diet? In my opinion, absolutely not.

It’s certainly an interesting finding, but I want to take a moment to address this study, because this information, spun the wrong way, may make you rethink a gluten-free diet, may make you think that you have to do heavy metal testing and treatment just because you’re on a gluten-free diet which, of course, would be quite a bit of expense and therapy to go through if it’s not even really, truly needed.

So while, yes, again this study did show significantly higher levels of mercury, lead, and arsenic in either the blood or urine for those who are gluten-free compared to those who ate gluten, the difference wasn’t really clinically meaningful. So it’s just something really important to be aware of.

Now, where does this come from? It may be that some of the grains that are used in place of wheat, rye, and barley that are gluten-free, like rice for example, may have higher levels of some of these contaminants.

Might you mitigate that risk if you eat organic? Possibly. There’s no documentation that really answers that question. But certainly, I think there is some plausibility to that.

But again, just because something is statistically significant doesn’t mean it’s clinically meaningful or meaningful in the real world.

So if you hear about this issue, just take a moment. Take a deep breath. And realize that this, in my opinion, is nothing that is cause for alarm. And if you’re someone who does better on a gluten-free diet, you can continue to do that gluten-free diet without any worry about any potential overload of heavy metal toxicity.

That’s it! This is Dr. Ruscio. I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks!


If you need help with gluten-free diets, click here.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

Discussion

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8 thoughts on “Do Gluten-Free Diets Increase Mercury, Lead, and Arsenic?

  1. I agree. And I wonder if all those subjects were tested BEFORE they started eating a gluten-free diet. Most people with autoimmune or digestive disorders…or most people on the planet, for that matter — have heavy metal toxicity and just don’t know it because those in the “sick care” system don’t know to test for it. But those in functional medicine (like yourself) know to test for it and to teach their patients how to clean it out of the body. Here’s a helpful tidbit about rice: Organic California Rice is much lower in arsenic than rice grown in the southern states, because cotton used to be grown in the south where rice is grown now, and cotton was sprayed with toxic pesticides. The soil still hasn’t recovered from the past decades.

    1. Thanks for the insight Lori.
      It is my thinking that the role of heavy metals in the FM community have been overstated, still something to be aware of but way over stated. I’m working on releasing information here soon as I have the time!

  2. Hi, Any update on the heavy metal toxicity being a root cause for digestive issues? I have 8 amalgam fillings, low zinc levels, severe combined sibo and low stomach acid even after a year of taking 15 betaine hcl(650mg per capsule) each meal and following a low carb diet. As this seriously effects my family life any advise or update would be helpful. Thanks for your video updates from patients – great idea.

  3. Hi, Any update on the heavy metal toxicity being a root cause for digestive issues? I have 8 amalgam fillings, low zinc levels, severe combined sibo and low stomach acid even after a year of taking 15 betaine hcl(650mg per capsule) each meal and following a low carb diet. As this seriously effects my family life any advise or update would be helpful. Thanks for your video updates from patients – great idea.

  4. I agree. And I wonder if all those subjects were tested BEFORE they started eating a gluten-free diet. Most people with autoimmune or digestive disorders…or most people on the planet, for that matter — have heavy metal toxicity and just don’t know it because those in the “sick care” system don’t know to test for it. But those in functional medicine (like yourself) know to test for it and to teach their patients how to clean it out of the body. Here’s a helpful tidbit about rice: Organic California Rice is much lower in arsenic than rice grown in the southern states, because cotton used to be grown in the south where rice is grown now, and cotton was sprayed with toxic pesticides. The soil still hasn’t recovered from the past decades.

    1. Thanks for the insight Lori.
      It is my thinking that the role of heavy metals in the FM community have been overstated, still something to be aware of but way over stated. I’m working on releasing information here soon as I have the time!

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