A few tips on how to avoid these toxins.
Mercury and arsenic are toxic metals that have been associated with a higher risk of neurological problems, cancer, and heart disease. In the past, there have been some headlines relating these metals to a gluten-free diet (g-free), reporting that intake of gluten-free foods may expose one to higher toxic levels. Rice, often substituted in more significant amounts for wheat in gluten-free foods, may store arsenic and mercury due to soil and environmental elements. Therefore, researchers from the University of Illinois set out to examine possible health consequences of a g-free diet vs. a non-gluten free diet. The study ranged from 2009-2014, and participants (73 persons) were chosen if they adhered to a gluten-free diet for those years. Subjects ages varied from 6 years old to 80 years, and participants consented to a blood and urinalysis.
The results showed the participant’s mercury blood levels were 70% higher and urine tests showed twice the arsenic concentrations compared to the non-gluten group. Therefore, the study determined that following a gluten-free diet may result in unexpected health outcomes. Keep in mind; however, the researchers did not examine if rice was the primary cause of metals in the participant’s diets, the study population was small, and the amounts of the metals associated with mercury poisoning and arsenic toxicity were much lower in both participants diets (gluten and non-gluten foods). The research does not mean that going gluten-free will automatically increase your intake of these metals, but it is a good indicator to take caution when choosing g-free foods. Below are three tips on how to optimize your health if gluten-free is the food plan for you.
Eat more whole, fresh foods
Who doesn’t love a slice a pizza (actually, that really sounds good about now!!) or a cookie every now and then? Pizza, cookies, and almost any food these days can be found gluten-free. And what do most of these goods have in common? Many are made with rice and refined flour, as well as added sugar, sodium, and other unwanted additives. Refined flour is stripped of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants; in other words, it’s highly processed. So, if you are following the “healthy brick road,” some of those g-free treats should be consumed as a treat; only on occasions and not part of the daily staples.
Please note: Simply being gluten-free does not give all products the green light consumption. To ensure clean eating, strive for fresh, whole, minimally processed foods instead of g-free products that contain ingredients you probably cannot pronounce.
Alternate gluten-free foods
There are various types of gluten-free grains, such as amaranth, teff, corn, millet, sorghum, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, and don’t forget pulses, which include beans, lentils, chickpeas, and peas. Starchy vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams, fingerling potatoes, and squash are also g-free. Your goal for meal planning is to choose whole, fresh, natural foods and switch up your selections every now and then. For example, try sweet potato toast and a side of blacks beans with your omelet for breakfast, add lentils or quinoa to your lunch salad, munch on veggies and hummus for your daily snack, and try out spaghetti squash for dinner.
Consume low-mercury seafood
Despite the mercury found in this study, seafood is a significant contributor to a healthy diet. To determine what sea dwellers to avoid, check out the EPA-FDA’s 2017 Advice on Consuming Fish and Shellfish. You should be safe consuming rainbow trout, clams, shrimp, Alaskan salmon, and Atlantic mackerel; however, air on the side of caution with lobster, canned tuna, sea bass, mahi-mahi, crab, and cod, and consume swordfish, king mackerel, grouper, and shark at your own risk. The latter options have shown to contain the highest amounts of mercury.
Just like any eating plan, strive for a healthy balance of the real stuff, don’t be afraid to try new foods, and save those treats for occasions!
Make time for breakfast! If you skip breakfast, it’s harder to get all the nutrients your body needs throughout the day. Breakfast can be as simple as a piece of fruit and whole grain toast, or low-fat yogurt.
Curtal: Shortened, abridged, or curtailed
“Continuing to seek happiness in all the wrong places, people, and things are what drives our cycle of suffering. Yes, we would prefer the luxury life of cozy and secure, the comfortable over the uncomfortable but these safety zones continue to fall apart and offer no true comfort. We cannot keep ourselves enclosed in a cocoon with a limited view of reality and avoid discomfort and pain if true happiness, security, and comfort is what we seek.”