There's a really strong chance that even those with celiac disease are exposed to harmful amounts of gluten.
New research released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that most gluten-free dieters are likely consuming a lot more gluten than they think—even when they try to avoid gluten altogether.
For many, the fact that gluten is still popping up in their carefully cultivated diets is more than irksome—it's downright dangerous. Those with celiac disease could experience life-threatening side effects, including on-the-spot reactions such as nausea, rashes, or cramping, to more serious conditions like bone loss or an increased risk of cancer.
To get a better sense of how much gluten was being consumed, the team of researchers split dieters into two groups—one comprised of people with celiac disease, and another without any dietary restrictions. Both of the groups were put onto a gluten-free diet and were regularly tested for gluten exposure using their stool and urine samples.
RELATED: What Exactly Is Gluten?
Despite being on a stringent gluten-free diet, both of the study's groups ended up consuming between 244 and 363 milligrams of gluten each day. Those who regularly eat gluten often consume upwards of 10,000 milligrams per day, however professionals recommend celiac patients keep consumption to under 10 milligrams to be safe.
The published report points out that anything more than that amount can lead to chronic intestinal damage.
While it's clear that gluten-free diets might not be as effective as we'd hoped, the new research does not provide a clear answer as to where the gluten is coming from. It could stem from cross-contamination of prepared foods, or foods that are marketed as gluten-free but actually are not.
Shoppers often take a "gluten-free" promise at face-value—but brands have been known to mislead consumers. General Mills faced major backlash in 2015 when they recalled nearly two million boxes of "gluten-free" Cheerios after it turned out the product was made with wheat flour, causing some shoppers to experience serious reactions.
For now, gluten-free dieters are going to continue the hard fight of avoiding the nearly ubiquitous protein. And this new research proves that the best method of avoiding gluten might be to make dishes from scratch. Cooking Light has published an entire how-to cookbook which can help you lead a healthy gluten-free lifestyle, available here.