How that gluten-free diet could be doing you more harm than good
It's the fashionable food fad followed by Hollywood celebrities and top models that could make you ill.
Growing numbers of health-conscious families are going gluten free, even if they do not suffer with coeliac disease.
But new research suggests that gluten-free foods can increase your exposure risk for toxic heavy metals.
Two studies by US researchers reveal that people following gluten-free diets have twice as much arsenic in their urine as those who eat gluten.
They also have 70pc more mercury in their blood and worryingly high levels of other metals such as lead and cadmium.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago reported that rice flour may contain higher traces of toxic metals than wheat flour, rye, and barley - gluten-containing grains avoided by those who can't tolerate the protein.
The toxic metals get into the rice through fertilisers, soil and water.
According to researchers, the accumulation of these toxic metals can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological illness.
The researchers said the findings point to the need for consumers to choose foods that are grown organically or produced with low levels of agricultural chemicals.
Rice is already known to contain high levels of arsenic and parents have been warned against giving toddlers rice milk as a substitute for cows' milk because of the dangers.
Repeated consumption of gluten-free products have also been linked with skin lesions, weight loss, high blood pressure, muscle wasting and diabetes.