4 Non-Food Sources Of Gluten You Might Not Expect
Gluten is the general term for the proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. It acts as a glue to maintain the shape of food and can be found in numerous food products such as breads, baked goods, cereals, pastas, soups, sauces, salad dressings, malt vinegar, beer, and food coloring. Over the last several decades, gluten intolerance has become increasingly problematic within the population – mainly due to ‘modern’ (destructive) agricultural practices.
According to a recent article published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, an estimated five percent of the global population has a gluten-related disorder such as celiac disease, wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, some experts say that millions of people have not yet been diagnosed.
What are the signs of a gluten disorder?
Gluten disorders can show up as slight sensitivity such as bloating and gas. However, it can be deathly ill for those who have celiac disease – an autoimmune disorder that damages the small intestine so that nutrients cannot be absorbed.
In turn, this creates havoc on the entire body as a lack of nutrients promotes other health complications. While people with gluten disorders have learned to change their diet to avoid illness, gluten can still be found in the most unsuspecting places. Numerous non-food sources contain the ingredient which can be extremely problematic.
Source #1: Orthodontic retainers prevent remission in celiac disease
An article published in Clinical Pediatrics reported the exacerbation of celiac disease in a child who wore an orthodontic retainer. Despite strict dietary elimination of gluten, she continued to be symptomatic and demonstrate positive serum markers for active disease. It was then discovered that the child was exposed to gluten from the retainer which contained a plasticized methacrylate polymer.
Once she discontinued using the retainer, her symptoms resolved and she was able to move to remission of the disease. Gluten is a common additive in plastics. Therefore, it’s important to find out what dental, medical, or surgical product your physicians recommend before use.
Source #2: Cosmetics promote skin hypersensitivity in celiac disease patients
The Dermatitis journal presented a study on 14 female patients (ages 12-60 years) affected by celiac disease who presented dermatologic eczematous lesions after applying gluten-containing cosmetic products. Five patients also resulted with erythema and vesicles at the application sites involving their face, neck, and arms. Products included bath soap, emollient creams, and face powder. Patients improved with discontinued use and had no relapses of dermatitis at their six month follow up.
Several other studies have proven anaphylaxis can also be induced by wearing cosmetics containing hydrolyzed wheat protein for gluten sensitive people. While some manufacturers of non-food gluten products declare that sensitivity takes effect only through oral ingestion, these studies prove that it can actually be absorbed through the skin. Therefore, it’s important to opt for gluten-free body and facial cosmetics.
Source #3: Nearly 25 percent of dietary supplements contain gluten
According to the Romanian Archives of Microbiology and Immunology journal, scientists investigated the presence of gluten in 20 common dietary supplements from the national market using the immunochromatographic assay which is a rapid tool for screening gluten. The results showed that gluten was present in 23.8 percent of the investigated samples.
Supplements tested included vitamins, minerals, plant extracts, probiotics, lactoferrin, and propolis. For anyone who has a gluten disorder, it is important to choose supplements that contain no wheat or gluten.
Source #4: Drug manufacturers contaminate medications with gluten
Medications are compounded with several ingredients – also known as excipients – that include the active component, absorbents, protectants, binders, lubricators, as well as bulking and coloring agents. Excipients can be synthetic or naturally derived from plants or animals. One common excipient is starch.
A search on a National Library of Medicine database reveals nearly 8,500 individual products contain the word “starch” – which can refer to corn, potato, and tapioca. However, it can also refer to gluten-filled wheat.
Unfortunately, there is no law that mandates drug manufacturers to disclose the source of these excipients. Upon request, some drug companies may reveal information. However, many provide incomplete or false information.
Still yet, some will state their product does not contain gluten but won’t guarantee it. So, for patients with gluten disorders, looking at the excipients can help you determine if a product is contaminated with gluten. And, remember, beware if it contains starch.
Final warning about gluten cross contamination.
While some organizations still claim that gluten contamination only happens orally, science proves them wrong. Cross contamination is a legitimate concern for anyone with gluten sensitivity – especially those with celiac disease.
About the author: Abby Campbell is a medical, health, and nutrition research writer. She’s dedicated to helping people live a healthy lifestyle in all aspects – physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Abby practices, writes, and coaches on natural preventive care, nutritional medicine, and complementary and alternative therapy.