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Is Rice Gluten Free?

Is Rice Gluten-Free: The Potential Dangers of Eating Rice

Is Rice Gluten Free?

Often, people will purchase rice thinking that they are eating well. While it is true that rice meets the definition of gluten-free laid out by the FDA, this often doesn’t paint the whole picture. Rice contains a form of gluten prolamin called orzenin. While many claim this form of gluten to be safe, in my experience, those with known celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity issues always do better when avoiding rice. This is because orzenin is still a gluten, and shares many of the same components as other gluten proteins. So, if you’re at the grocery store, asking yourself “is rice gluten-free,” we recommend staying away from rice to ensure you maintain a healthy gut and avoid any adverse reactions.  

Is Rice Healthy?

Most people following a gluten-free diet eat an abundance of rice and processed rice-based products. Rice proteins, like orzenin, have been linked to intestinal inflammation. Processed rice is an overall poor source of vitamins and minerals, yet it contains large amounts of calories. Research studies have shown that those consuming white rice have an increased risk of type II diabetes.  Additionally, research studies have found contamination of rice by toxic heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium, and lead.

Arsenic, Pb, and Cd are among the toxic metals that pose serious health effects in humans. Exposure to these metals through diet is of concern, especially among rice consumers.

Rice Contains High Levels of Arsenic

Arsenic exposure and subsequent toxicity is a health problem affecting millions of people worldwide. Exposure to arsenic comes from several sources: well water (arsenic occurs naturally in some geological formations), contamination from mining and ore smelting, and seafood (a less toxic organic form of arsenic). Arsenic can also be found in the following: grains (and grain-based products), bottled water, coffee, processed juice, and beer. According to an investigation from Consumer Health Reports, the highest levels of this toxic metal are found in rice (especially brown rice) and rice gluten.

Most gluten-free food is made from either corn or rice. Both of these have been found to have arsenic in them. Rice in particular is the higher of the two. Often, times people believe that they are eating really well when in reality they are being exposed to toxic heavy metals.

Why Is Arsenic Dangerous?is the rice gluten free

Arsenic was popularized as a murder weapon in the movie Arsenic and Old Lace. It is tasteless, odorless, and looks like sugar crystals. In large enough doses, arsenic is deadly, though most of my experience deals with chronic low-dose arsenic exposure creating chronic health issues. Let’s differentiate the fact that arsenic comes in two flavors:

  1. Organic (arsenobetaine and arsenocholine) – these forms are relatively nontoxic and prominently found in seafood. They are excreted from the body via the kidneys.
  2. Inorganic arsenic (Trivalent or As III) – This form of arsenic is the real danger, and it is the form commonly found in rice-based products. It causes damage by interfering with at least 200 different enzyme systems in the body. Many of these are critical in producing energy and regulating DNA. It is also a known human carcinogen (causes cancer). Chronic exposure to even low levels of arsenic can cause systemic multi-organ disease and damage including the liver, kidney, heart, lung, muscles, nervous system, and GI tract. Exposure to inorganic arsenic comes from rice (especially brown rice), contaminated drinking water, pesticides, insecticides, and fungicides. It is important to note that even organically grown rice can contain high levels of arsenic because it can be found at high levels in soil depending on where it is grown.

Many of the symptoms linked to arsenic exposure overlap the symptoms that gluten can cause. That’s why it is important to know them, especially if you are one of the “gluten-free newbies” relying heavily on rice products as a staple in your diet. Symptoms included: neuropathy, epileptic seizures, cardiomyopathy (heart damage), abdominal pain, nausea, severe diarrhea, skin rashes, and white bands across the fingernails (Mee’s lines – see picture on the right).

Gluten-Free Rice Products = More Arsenic Exposure = More Disease Risk

Those going gluten-free initially tend to gravitate toward high levels of rice-based substitutes like bread, pasta, cereals, etc. due to their new gluten frees diet plan. If you aren’t up to speed on rice gluten and the potential danger it poses to those with gluten sensitivity, I highly encourage you to watch this video.

Beyond the problem rice gluten may pose, this new research shows that rice-based foods contain levels of arsenic that can create a significant risk to your health.

Who is at the greatest risk?

is the rice gluten free

  1. Infants – often times infants are fed excessive riced based cereals, formulas, and cracker products. Especially infants who tend to suffer from allergies to milk, soy, and corn. Even beyond the arsenic danger, many infants have severe reactions to rice products. This condition known as FPIES (food protein-induced enterocolitis) is a serious problem. You can read more about this in my book, No Grain No Pain on pages 183 and 184.
  2. Gluten-Free Newbies – These individuals are typically already very sick with autoimmune diseases and suffer from malnutrition. When going gluten-free initially, these are the people who rely largely on rice-based products. Because they are already sick, they are more susceptible to arsenic exposure especially if they have pre-existing liver or kidney issues.

How is Arsenic Eliminated From The Body?

If you have a history of eating copious amounts of rice, you may be wondering:

  1. Do I have high levels of Arsenic?
  2. What are the symptoms of arsenic toxicity?
  3. How do I get arsenic out of my body.

You can ask your doctor to perform testing to determine whether or not you have elevated levels of arsenic. The symptoms of chronic arsenic exposure can include muscle weakness, muscle pain, nervous system dysfunction, hair loss, skin rash, and even cancer. These symptoms can also be caused by gluten exposure.

You can help support your body’s ability to eliminate arsenic naturally. Inorganic arsenic has to go through a methylation reaction in the liver before it is excreted by the kidneys. This means that those people who have genetic methylation problems are at greater risk for arsenic toxicity. A healthy methylation process combined with adequate protein intake, and antioxidants should be part of your strategy.

Healthy methylation can be supported by making sure you eat foods rich in B vitamins, methionine, cysteine, and choline. You may also consider supplementing:

It is also important to support liver and kidney function as these organs are necessary to assist your body in neutralizing and excreting arsenic from your body. There are a number of healthy foods that contain compounds that nourish the liver and kidneys. These include garlic, cilantro, parsley, broccoli, eggs, cabbage, and onion.

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

63 Responses

      1. The why are you saying eat Basmati rice? If it comes from cafo raised chicken, and then ‘contaminate the land, as if you are some Holy figure. Please get your own facts straight.
        PAY ATTENTION to the chelation recommendations from Dr. Osborne on how to purge arsenic from your body, don’t recommend eating it!

  1. Thank you for the info on toxicity of white rice. I want to ask if eating these types of rice puts one at risk for the arsenic exposure: brown, red, black.
    Thank you for your informative articles.

      1. So in China 1.2 billion and Japan 120 million people are eating the wrong food, every day ?
        Is that comment not slightly exaggerated ??

  2. In light of this information, I believe that protein powders containing rice protein would contain arsenic. Is this so? Thank you.

    1. Wild rice is not rise. It is actually a marsh grass. Currently there is no evidence that wild rice contains high levels of arsenic.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

      1. No, they’re being poisoned. Likely as a means to lower their population, and control their burgeoning populations by weakening them, by driving them to an early death through economic slavery.
        Some Chinese and Japanese people may be privately growing their own rice in their own uncontaminated soil, which would then have no arsenic. Do you think 1.2 billion and 120 million people are all stupid? Simple rule of thumb: DON’T EAT RICE!
        Or actually READ Dr. Osborne’s advice.

  3. Rice is only problematic in a very small percentage of individuals, and LUNDBERG, of California, tested completely clean for arsenic contamination (Consumer Reports).

      1. I’m with you, Cathy. Brown rice is a big part of my diet too. Potatoes have been put down, and rice is usually in the GF pasta. I rarely eat white rice, and nutritionists always recommended brown rice as being very nutritious so I make it often- usually one of the Lundberg types. I would like to find out more about arsenic in that brand so I think I’ll contact them. I am very upset by this report!!

  4. NO, rice doesn’t bother me as long as I don’t eat it. When I quit eating it, I had a few months of detox before I came back to feeling well

  5. If I eat a lot of rice, My chest feels tight like it is going to burst. Why are most gf foods made of rice?
    Is oat flour better?

  6. I firsthand a chance to hear you on Betrayal Seriese and would love to have a counsultation
    with you I live in NY p Os there are any way I can coordinate consultation true skype
    I have Hoshimoto and my husband is safeting with Chrons
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  7. Hello,
    I am from India and we have a natural diet of White Rice (for lunch). We also have a very small portion along with wheat at night. If I am eliminating Wheat, can I continue with rice diet as I am used to it from my birth? Does this affect my gluten free diet?

    1. I have the same question too, being from south India. We are a population who eat rice at almost every meal, and when some of us have to be gluten free , we are left with no other option for carbs but white rice. Do u think the traditional south East Asians have some gene differences that allow them to eat rmore carbs in the form of rice and less protein? In fact there are lot of vegetarian communities in India. I recemntly learnt that vegetarians have an ability to convert omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids. I am always confused because when we eliminate grains, there is nothing else we could eat except veggies.

  8. I eat organic rice almost daily and have so for years. I recently had a provoked urine toxic metals test and my arsenic levels were very low (12ug/g). I did find out that I have high lead and thallium levels though. I am going through a detox protocol as prescribed by my ND. Suprisingly my mercury levels were low even though I have 4 amalgam fillings that I just had removed.

    1. According to this website/article, South Indians should’ve died of arsenic poisoning at around the time arsenic started polluting ground water or when it was used as a pesticide.

      At least, that is what the article is implying. You probably safe when you can source your rice locally.

  9. What about Lundberg rice grown in CA? I have read they do testing to make sure their product is safe from metals.

  10. Rice from India or any other Asian country will naturally be different from rice grown in the US. Any food our ancestors ate for ages shouldn’t be that bad. Rice has been a staple for Indians from time immemorial. Our genes have adapted, developed and evolved around the kind of food we have eaten for a long long time. So if you don’t see any serious health problems after eating rice, there seems no reason to stop eating the food that has been a part of our nutrition for ever.

    1. Bravo, much common sense. At least 1/3 of humanity has been eating rice as a main staple food for millenia. We should have died off by now. 🙏🏼

  11. I get severe pains in my chest whenever I eat rice. Does this means that I am allergic to the gluten in rice.?

  12. Hi Dr Osborne. I’m from the UK, aged 52, vegetarian for 30+ years. Was diagnosed with Hashimotos 3 years ago. Taking levothyroxine (75mg). Generally well and quite fit, but what I took to be weight gain over past 5 years of about half to one stone may be bloating – hard to tell. A friend (with a doctorate in stroke research) has also recently been diagnosed with Hashimotos. She said I have bloating, and to try giving up gluten. Had less bloating after 3 weeks (but eating less junk too!). Done so much reading but can’t get to the bottom of the million dollar question – is there any rice I can eat? I don’t get any discomfort or obvious reactions on eating gluten – it’s just the weight gain/bloating (I’m not fat, just bigger than I’d like to be). Also find cycling to work 50 mins each way a little tiring, but only on the slight uphill, and I usually only sleep 6.5 hours on week days! Do you recommend all Hashimotos give up all rice? I live in 3 different places (Devon and London) every week, and this makes dietary adaptations very tricky! What are your thoughts on ‘certified’ gluten-free pasta? Thanks a lot!

  13. Hi I am assuming my daughter’s and my favourite staple replacement milk is now very bad? I have rice / coconut milk daily. She won’t drink anything else (aged three) and we both are dairy intolerant. This is the best one we’ve found. I have started to have unexplained loose stools again this week but not aware I’m eating gluten which did cause me problems. I also have m.e. / Pots / Adrenal Fatigue. Is drinking rice products just as bad as food? I have one white band on each finger I think.

  14. Thank you for another life-saver article, Dr Osborne! I have been gluten free for 11 years, and almost grain free for 6 months. I have Celiac disease, RA, Type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia…
    A few years ago I had a mineral toxicity test done on my hair with my ND. I was off the charts with Arsenic toxicity. Even though I eat a very good diet, I still feel ill and weak many days. Recently I have had SEVERE, unbearable finger nerve pain. I have neuropathy all over my feet and up the front of my shins. I have been attributing it to my type 1 diabetes.
    I also have recently been eating a brown rice, GF bread that was not in my normal eating plan. This severe nerve pain began about 3 days after I started the bread. In fact, I was awake with the pain so bad I haven’t been able to sleep, so was up reading and stumbled across your email.
    I have been so Perplexed. THANK YOU for the new insight!!
    Back to NO GRAIN for me!!

  15. Thank you so much for this information. I heard of this months ago when my mother instructed me to stay away from all rice because of the arsenic levels. She still does eat rice on occasion but rinses it amd soaks it before she consumes it. My question is with all the new evidence and studies that come out about lectins and proteins that can mimic gluten what do we eat as an alternative??

  16. What???? I’ve been eating rice for every meal since I first started eating(For 21 years to be exact)… everybody eats rice (or stuff made of rice flour) for all the 3 major meals in my country(Sri Lanka) and we’ve been eating rice like this for centuries! Are we Arsenic resistant???

  17. Why do you give a generalized warning about consumption of rice after saying the toxicity depends on the region where it is grown. I prefer you would do the research and find out which ones can be consumed. Otherwise, this is just a scary report, deprives people of a possible healthy food options and impacts the business of rice growers that raise good crops. Do they also have arsenic soils in the Himalayas where lots of rice comes from? I would appreciate a response

  18. A family member of mine who ate brown rice almost every day has tested positive for high level of arsenic,Dr O this article you published is so true,thanks again for educating the public.

  19. I am highly gluten intolerant and suffer methylation issues and as soon as I cut gluten, I immediately began noticing significant reactions to eating rice, rice noodles, rice anything. I am also highly reactive to solanine and other natural chemicals found in healthy foods. With a homozygous A1298C MTHFR mutation I have suffered from multiple instances of acute toxic encephalopathy and ongoing health issues to chronic toxin exposure due to my inabilities to detox natural and man made toxins (mould, pesticides/herbicides, anti-flammable paint, carbon monoxide fumes, many types of spray pain etc.). I look forward to all upcoming information about chelation.

  20. Thank you . I eat rice because I cannot eat wheat . I get so tired after eating rice and feel very depressed as it seems I am less and less able to eat normal food with normal people . I shall remove rice and hopefully the depressed feelings too !

  21. I think that people place far too much emphasis on what goes into your mouth than what comes out of it 🙂
    That being said, it’s sensible to stick to a moderate diet & avoid the obvious no-no’s. New information from doctors is taken as Gospel Truth.
    I’m not saying there isn’t some truth to this article but in my experience with the whole alternative health field, a little truth is often magnified into a profound Ideology.
    Just my humble opinion.

  22. As I understand the rice farming history in many countries, is that land that was formerly used for cotton was later used to grow rice.
    Per that history, the chemical used in cotton farming is the source of the toxic arsenic plan uptake.

  23. What can be s good staple fot those on a gluten free diet? If wheat is obviously out, now after reading this article rice is out what’s left?
    I’ve been eating white potatoes for months now alternating every now and again with sweet potatoes but they’re very sweet so I normally stick to the ordinary potatoes which I’m getting fed up with and think it’s making me bloated.
    I also have problems with bloating and trapped gas so I avoid lentils and all legumes and beans.
    Please, some advice on what to eat on a gluten free diet in my case.
    Thank you!

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