Monday, April 8, 2013

Two Important Gluten-Free Studies You Can Help With

You can help the gluten-free community by taking part in two important surveys.

The first was set up by Tricia Thompson, a dietitian who specializes in celiac disease, and Brian Jackson, PhD of Dartmouth College, to get some real numbers on how much rice gluten-free consumers eat.

Concerns about arsenic in rice have been raised by Consumer Reports. In a recent story, the magazine said it found "worrisome levels" of arsenic in many rice samples tested.

Since those who follow the gluten-free diet typically eat a wide variety of products made with rice and rice flour, it seems they could face a greater risk of being exposed to harmful levels of arsenic. Aside from rice itself, rice flour  and starch is found in products as varied as cereal, pasta, bread, crackers, cookies and rice drinks, often as a primary ingredient.

So far gluten-free consumers have been advised it's not necessary to avoid rice, but to eat a diet that includes a wide range of gluten-free grains. Brown rice is a gluten-free whole grain that has been encouraged as a healthy addition to the gluten-free diet. But it was cited as being likely to contain more arsenic than white rice . Some experts worry that fear of arsenic will drive people away from this grain, choosing nutritionally devoid gluten-free flours and starches instead.

While the assumption is that gluten-free consumers face greater risks, there is little data on rice consumption. The survey is designed to help correct that. It's open to adults who have been diagnosed with celiac disease. You can access it here. You have until April 24 to fill it out.

The second survey is being done jointly by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and the Jefferson Celiac Center in Philadelphia. It's designed to find out what doctors tell their celiac disease patients about having family members tested.  The study investigators hope to use this information to improve screening strategies for celiac disease.
You can access it here.

These are two simple steps you can take to improve the gluten-free world for yourself and others.

Amy Ratner

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