Researchers found that “gluten-free” labeled probiotics still contain insignificant traces of gluten, but whether this may affect in any way patients diagnosed with gluten intolerance, or the celiac disease, remains largely unknown.
For their study, the research team assessed more than 20 probiotic supplements which promised that they were gluten-free. Researchers found that more than 50 percent of these items still had microscopic levels of the protein.
Probiotic supplements are recommended by doctors to help keep gut bacteria healthy especially when someone is taking antibiotics to cure a certain illness. Antibiotics, whose name translates from French as anti- (against) and biotique (of life), usually hunt small, but harmful life forms called bacteria and wipe them out. But in the process, “good” bacteria from gut are also indiscriminately killed leading to digestive problems.
Probiotics are supposed to restore the lost balance because they contain a supplement of “good” bacteria that fix the digestive system. Plus, there are people that cannot absorb gluten from foods properly and have a cohort of digestive problems, as well. So, new studies recommend that they take probiotic supplements to alleviate symptoms of their condition.
But giving these people probiotics even in small amounts from probiotic supplements can only spell trouble.
“It appears that labels claiming a product is gluten free are not to be trusted, at least when it comes to probiotics,”
explained Dr. Peter Green, co-author of the study and researcher from Columbia University in NY.
Although the majority of the analyzed probiotics contained less than 20 parts to a million (which is deemed “gluten-free” by the FDA), 18 percent had higher concentrations which hardly made them eligible for the gluten free category.
The team also found that half of the probiotics that contained too much gluten were also misleadingly labeled as gluten-free, although gluten concentrations were similar to those found in regular products.
Dr. Green believes that the finding may be of great help to celiac disease patients since their immune system goes awry when gluten is present in the gut and starts working against the rest of the body. So, best way to stay safe is keeping away from gluten.
Also, the findings of the latest study are consistent with a past study which had revealed that celiac disease patients who consumed probiotics had a higher risk of displaying symptoms of their condition than their peers who didn’t take such supplements.
However, researchers couldn’t tell if the traces of gluten in probiotic supplements posed a real health threat for people with gluten intolerance.
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