Is Your Gluten-Free Diet Making You Sick? This Could Be Why

Here’s a reader question about gluten-free diet sickness, along with the science-backed answer. Could your gluten-free diet be making you sick?

I recently read an article that warned that my gluten-free diet could be increasing my levels of toxic chemicals. That sounds pretty serious—is it true?

The simple answer? Unfortunately, yes.

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A new study from the University of Illinois in Chicago recently found that people who reported eating gluten-free for 5 years had up to double the arsenic—a chemical found in pesticides—and 70 percent more mercury than the average person, which can cause side effects like fatigue, blue moods and difficulty losing weight. The reason: Most common gluten-free products are made with rice flour, and rice plants are particularly powerful when it comes to absorbing substances found in the surrounding soil. So if the rice plants used in the product were grown in a field rife with artificial contaminants and pesticides (as the majority are today), those toxins can make their way into your body.

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The easy fix: Instead of choosing products made with rice flour, opt for breads, pastas and cookies made with nut flours or ancient grains like millet and quinoa. Some that get the no-rice stamp of approval: Food for Life’s “Sprouted” Almond Bread($11.49 at The Gluten Free Shoppe, Ancient Harvest’s Supergrain Pasta ($4 at, and Lucy’s Gluten-Free Cookies($4.99 at

Give products like these a try, and you may be well on your way to enjoying a gluten-free lifestyle that’s safe and delicious—what a winning combination!

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