Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

Going Gluten Free

The Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist

brown rice

 

You may opt to go gluten free for various health reasons.  Avoiding gluten means avoiding gluten containing grains which are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt (and oats if it does not say gluten free). 

Many people who avoid these grains substitute with gluten free products. While I don’t recommend this substitution due to the still high processed carb and sugar content, there are also other reasons to be concerned.

Are you Getting too Much Arsenic in your Diet by going Gluten Free?

wheat-with x thru it

 

Many gluten free products contain brown rice and or white rice.   It is not so bad if you consume brown/white rice from time to time but if you eat gluten free products daily, chances are, you are consuming a lot rice.

  Some of these products contain 90 times more arsenic than what is allowed in drinking water.  Even low levels of arsenic can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues respiratory illness and more.  Arsenic is found in brown rice at higher concentrations than what is found in white rice. Organic rice will contain arsenic too. 

Rice is grown in flooded fields and it absorbs more arsenic from the environment than any other crop.  Arsenic is a chemical element found naturally in our environment.  It is present in our soil, water and air.  Organic arsenic is used in pesticides and fertilizers.  When used this way, the arsenic can stay in the soil for years after crops are harvested.  For example, much of the rice harvested in the US is grown on former cotton fields where farmers used arsenic based pesticides to control weevils. 

Who Should Watch Their Arsenic Intake

Arsenic can accumulate in your hair, skin, nails and even in your internal organs. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People who eat a lot of rice
  • People who are on a gluten free diet

Symptoms of Arsenic Toxicity

(from low level, long term exposure (i.e.: gluten free diet))

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the more common/frequent symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancer
  • Increase in heart disease
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • headaches

How to Know if You Have High Arsenic Levels

Just because you are on a gluten free diet doesn’t mean you require testing.  This should be determined on an individual basis and is between you and your health care provider. 

On average, there is 10-20 milligrams of arsenic in the average human body.  Exceeding these levels can contribute to health problems.

  • Arsenic 24- hour urine test: this is the preferred test
  • Raid Urine Spot Test: this test is not as accurate
  • Blood Test: this can be used in conjunction with the 24-hour test and do monitor levels
  • Hair Mineral Analysis: You can request this test on your own and have your holistic nutritionist or ND go over the results with you.

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

 

  • Rice, wine and fruit juices can contain higher arsenic amounts than other foods
  • Organic foods do not necessarily contain less since arsenic is found in the soil
  • Talk to your doctor about giving rice cereal to your infant: consider other foods as your baby’s first food. Babies should have no more than one serving of rice cereal per day.
  • Limit the amount of gluten free products you consume such as gf pizza, bread, pasta and so forth.
  • Alternate your grains: Learn how to cook and bake using other grains such as millet, teff and quinoa
  • Brown rice contains 30-80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because it still contains the bran and germ portion of the kernel which is where most of the arsenic concentrates. 
  • If you do use brown rice opt for basmati as it will contain less arsenic. For white rice, opt for basmati as well, to reduce exposure.
  • Rinse your rice before use. This can reduce 25-30% of the arsenic content.

Bottom Line

Eat a well-balanced diet. You don’t have to eliminate rice products entirely from your diet but instead mix it up with other grains and fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you always eat your burger and sandwich on a gluten free bun, try a lettuce wrap or paleo coconut wraps.  Instead of having rice as a side dish, have quinoa, cauliflower rice, teff or millet.  Instead of brown rice pasta try lentil or quinoa pasta.  There are many options!

Research shows that while chelation may be good to remove heavy metals it may not be as effective to remove arsenic.  Instead a dietary protocol including  mineral supplementation can help to remove arsenic.  Depending on your level of toxicity, it may take up to 2 years to reduce toxic levels. 

 

Recipes

Here are some a couple gluten free recipes that do not contain brown rice/Visit my blog page for many more recipes

 

 

Sources

http://theceliacmd.com/2015/03/arsenic-in-rice-the-gluten-free-diet-facts-and-tips/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

http://drlwislon.com/articles/ARSENIC.htm

Haas, E.& Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  CA: Celestial Arts

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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10 Reasons Why you Should Add this Grain (Seed) into your Diet

Millet:  10 Reasons to Add this “Grain” to your Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Herbalist, BCHN ®

millet grain

 

What is Millet?

It is a gluten free grain that is tiny in size and round and may be white, gray, yellow or red.  Technically millet is a seed not a grain but it is categorized with grains from a culinary perspective.  It is thought to have originated in North Africa and has been consumed since prehistoric times. 

What are the Benefits to Eating Millet?

  • Heart protective: The magnesium and fiber content is what makes this such as heart healthy grain. Since it also contains potassium it can aid in reducing high blood pressure. 
  • Lowers your cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk: Adding WHOLE grains (not processed grains) such as millet into your diet has been shown to lower your risk for certain cancers and heart disease and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Fiber content: Millet contains insoluble fiber which can help prevent gallstones. The fiber content is also protective against breast cancer.  Eating fiber rich grains also lowers the incidence of colon cancer.  Fiber in millet is ideal for lowering your LDL (your “bad” cholesterol).
  • Protective against childhood asthma: This is also due to the magnesium content. Studies have shown that children consuming a diet of whole grains (and fish) have lower incidence of asthma. 
  • Nutrient Dense: Millet is a good source of protein, copper, manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins and magnesium. One cup of cooked millet contains 6 protein grams, 41 carb grams 2.26 fiber grams, 1.74 fat grams and 207 calories. Of all the cereal grains, millet has the richest amino acid profile and the highest iron content. 
  • The magnesium content is also beneficial for migraines and high blood pressure
  • Contains plant lignans: These are converted by healthy gut flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans which is thought to protect against breast cancer and other hormone related cancers and heart disease.  
  • Can improve digestive health: Because of its fiber content, millet can aid with elimination and constipation as well as excess gas, bloating and cramping. It is the easiest of all the grains to digest due to its high alkaline ash content. 
  • Can aid with detoxification: Millet is rich in antioxidants which are beneficial in neutralizing free radicals.
  • Helps to fight fatigue: It is considered among the top foods to eat to fight fatigue due to its B vitamin, iron and macro nutrient content.

 

 

How Do I Cook with Millet?

Basic cooking method

  • Before you use your millet grain you should rinse it under running water to remove any remaining left over dirt and debris.
  • After rinsing, you can cook it as one part millet to two parts liquid such as water or broth. After it boils, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for roughly 25 minutes.  The texture cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want a creamier millet, then stir it frequently and add a little more water to it every now and then. 
  • If you want a nuttier flavor, then you can roast the grains prior to boiling. Place the grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir frequently. When the millet has a golden color then remove from the skillet and add to the water. 

Simple Serving Suggestions

  • Use as you would quinoa to make a grain/veggie/protein bowl. Add raw or cooked vegetables (use left- over veggies from last night’s dinner) and add a protein such as tempeh, chicken or fish.  Toss it with a homemade dressing and you have a simple meal to take to work for lunch!
  • Use with your meal instead of potatoes or rice as your starch
  • Use ground millet in bread and muffin recipes
  • Add cooked millet to your soups
  • Combine cooked millet with chopped vegetables, GF bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. Form into patties and bake at 350 degrees F. until done. 

Buying and Storing your Millet

millet stalks

  • When not using your millet, store it in your pantry, in a cool and dark place and it will keep for several months.
  • You can also store it in your refrigerator. (I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge)
  • If your millet has a harsh aftertaste, this means it is rancid and you should discard it.
  • It’s shelf life is not as stable as some other grains so do not purchase this one in bulk.
  • I recommend purchasing your millet from small companies. In CO you can purchase your millet from CJ Milling www.cjmilling.com.  If you don’t have a local source then opt to purchase millet from the refrigerator section of your natural grocery store.

How Do I use Millet Flour?

  • Millet flour has a distinct sweet flavor. Purchase in small amounts since it can turn bitter rapidly. If you purchase from a small local company, ask how fresh the flour is.   You can also grind your own millet into flour in a high- power blender.  Store the flour in the freezer to maintain freshness. 

What Else Should I know about Millet?

  • Millet contains goitrogen, which is a substance that can interfere with thyroid hormone manufacture. Thus, if you have a thyroid issue, just don’t eat millet every day. But still feel free to consume it in moderation.
  • Although it is a gluten free grain/seed, those with celiac disease should start off with a small amount to see if they tolerate it. This is because millet does contain prolamines that are similar to the alpha-gliadin of wheat.  That being said, millet is usually well tolerated by those with celiac disease. 
  • Millet is a GMO free grain and is not sprayed according to  Jennifer at CJ Milling in CO.  She stated that millet is a very safe grain to grow even conventionally since it is not a GMO nor sprayed crop.  You may see organic millet in your store-this is where you save your money and buy this grain/seed non organic. 

 

 

Sources

Murray, M. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.  NY: Atria Books

Rogers, J. (1991) The Healing Foods Cookbook.  PA: Rodale Press.

Wood, R. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Press

http://www.Whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=53

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.  Call today at 303-522-0381

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today!

 

 

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