NUTRITION&FOOD Published May20, 2015 By Angela Betsaida Laguipo

Probiotics Are Not Gluten-Free After All

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A new study claims that probiotics that claim they are 'gluten-free' are not free from gluten after all. Researchers at the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) in New York found out that probiotics that are labeled 'gluten-free' contain traces of gluten which could pose serious health threats to celiac disease patients.

Medical News Today reports that the researchers and lead author Dr. Samantha Nazareth were able to present their findings at the Digestive Disease Week 2015 meeting in Washington, D.C. According to them, if a person has celiac disease and he ingests food with gluten which can be found in wheat, barley and rye, their immune system would attack the villi of the small intestines. Thus, the body would not be able to absorb the needed nutrients from food.

To land to their findings, they examined 22 probiotic supplements which come from tablet forms. These products contain the label 'gluten-free'. However, upon their examination, more than half or around 55% of the products tested positive for traces of gluten, reports Pioneer News.

Out of the brands tested, as many as four contained gluten more than the 20 parts per million limits. Hence, this can pose health threats to the body of those who should not ingest gluten.

"We have previously reported that celiac patients who use dietary supplements have more symptoms than non-users, so we decided to test the probiotics for gluten contamination," Dr. Nazareth said.

Meanwhile, CUMC assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology, Benjamin Lebwohl said, "We know that most patients with celiac disease only develop intestinal damage when consuming more than 10 milligrams of gluten daily, and it is unlikely that contaminated probiotics can lead to that amount unless patients are ingesting mega-doses."

Their study shows that nutritional labels do not accurately detail the contents of their products and this can be detrimental to those with diseases that prevent them to take in gluten. Consumers should be vigilant in reading labels and make sure that the food they are taking is safe.

Lebwohl asks, "Why is there any gluten in these products? Why should the consumer pay any attention to gluten-free labeling on such products? And given the great consumer interest in probiotics, will regulatory bodies take action to protect the public?"

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