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High Levels of Arsenic Found in Rice Threatens Those Following a Traditional Gluten Free Diet

Arsenic exposure and subsequent toxicity is a health problem affecting millions of people worldwide. Exposure to arsenic comes from several sources to include – well water (arsenic occurs naturally in some geological formations), contamination from mining and ore smelting, and from seafood (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).

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

No Grain No Pain Rice Causes DamageThose going gluten free initially tend to gravitate toward high levels of rice based substitute breads, pastas, cereals, etc.  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 greatest risk?

  1. Infants – often times infants are fed excessive riced based cereals, formulas, and cracker products.  Especially infants who tend to suffer with 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 page 183 and 184. . 
  2. Gluten Free Newbies – These individuals are typically already very sick with autoimmune diseases and suffer with 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.

Why Is Arsenic Dangerous?

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 (arsenobentaine and arsenocholine) – these forms are relatively non toxic and prominently found in seafood.  They are excreted from the body via the kidneys.
  2. Inorganic arsenic (Trivalent or As III) – This form or arsenic is the real danger, and it is the form commonly found in rice based products.  It exerts 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.

rice and gluten free diet leads to arsenci exposure Symptoms of Arsenic Poisoning – 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 on heavy 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)

How Is Arsenic Eliminated From The Body?

No universally agreed upon medical treatment exists for arsenic poisoning.  It is important to understand that 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.  It can also be deposited in hair, skin, and nail tissues. In my experience, it is important to support liver and kidney function in people with chronic arsenic exposure.   Chelation can be performed, and there are a number of natural chelating agents that help bind toxic metals and remove them from the body.  Let’s start with some excellent food based chelators.  Garlic, cilantro, parsley, broccoli, and onion are all excellent options.

In my experience, there are some very effective natural agents in supplement form that can also be used.  One of my favorite is high dose vitamin C (10 grams/day).   N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC), Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Chlorella are also good supplemental options.  I will be going into more detail about chelation later this month.  Stay tuned for more on this.   In the meantime, I urge you to reconsider using rice as a major staple in your diet.

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

Does rice bother you?  Chime in below and let us know…



Gluten Free Warrior Commentary


28 responses on “The Dangers of Eating Rice on a Gluten Free Diet

  1. raema says:

    thank you again….so many do not understand this

  2. Sara says:

    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.

  3. Lisa says:

    Is organic non gmo rice ok or not !

  4. Karen says:

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

  5. Ann McDonald says:

    What about wild rice? Is it safe to eat?

  6. MR PALEO says:

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

  7. Marion Maynard says:

    What do you know about Red Rice?

  8. Diana says:

    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

  9. Muriel W. says:

    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?

  10. Lisa says:

    Is rice bran or rice bran powder gluten free?

  11. Ada Hofman says:

    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
    Please Help Us
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  12. Gail says:

    What about Black or Purple rice? Do you have ano on those?
    Thanks for your time!

  13. Divya says:

    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?

    • Priya says:

      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.

  14. Mike says:

    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.

    • Kahula says:

      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.

  15. Tina Baker says:

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

  16. Raaj Singha says:

    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.

  17. What about Basmati rice?

  18. Melanie says:

    Wild rice is not rice, it’s the seed of a marsh grass

  19. Zella Maquiso says:

    Pls advice if black rice is good for gluten free diet.tnx much

  20. Primrose walcott says:

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

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Peter Osborne, unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Osborne and his community. Dr. Osborne encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

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