Celiac disease patients carefully following a gluten-free diet will be surprised to learn that this might not protect them from exposure to potentially harmful amounts of gluten, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
“Individuals who are on a gluten free diet are consuming more gluten than we actually imagined. It's not uncommon for them to be consuming on average a couple of hundred milligrams a day,” Dr Jack A Syage, the study's lead author, told Reuters in an interview. Read on for the full scoop.
Even microscopic amounts of gluten that trigger an autoimmune response in celiac disease patients
It’s dangerous for people with celiac disease to consume even microscopic amounts of the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley, as that’s enough to trigger an autoimmune response that damages the lining of the small intestine.
Interesting fact? Gluten is hidden in a host of medications, seasonings, sauces, food additives, fried foods and even lipsticks and lip balms.
If left untreated, celiac disease can lead to a number of long-term health problems, including osteoporosis, anaemia and fertility problems.
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New study finds that a strictly gluten-free diet could still result in accidental gluten exposure
To reach their findings, Dr Syage and his team quantified gluten exposure by assessing amounts of gluten excreted in the urine and stool of celiac patients who were on a gluten-free diet but still experiencing moderate to severe symptoms of the disease.
The team estimated that these participants were still being exposed to about 150 mg to 400 mgg of gluten per day. Up to 10 g of gluten per day is usually considered safe for people with celiac disease, says the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Centre. However, the study wasn’t designed to identify the sources of accidental gluten exposure.
“The risk of gluten contamination in the diet of treated celiacs is very well known,” commented Dr Carlo Catassi, head of paediatrics at the Universita Politecnica Delle Marche in Italy who wasn’t involved in the study. “Should these data be confirmed by direct evidence of a frequent high gluten contamination, further treatments beyond the gluten-free diet would certainly be an option.”
Celiac disease patients who are experiencing symptoms despite being on a gluten-free diet should consult a dietician to re-evaluate their diets.
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