6 Unexpected Sources of Gluten

GlutenAvoiding gluten can be tough and although consuming trace amounts of gluten is rarely a problem for gluten intolerant individuals, even the most miniscule gluten exposure from hidden sources can cause problems for those with celiac disease. We at myWholeLife want to help, so we have compiled a list of 6 products that may be tainted with gluten.

Toothpaste: Although many name brand toothpastes including Crest and Aquafresh are now gluten free, there are still some brands out there that are tainted with gluten, so read the label carefully when purchasing your toothpaste. If you’re a celiac with an extreme sensitivity to gluten, you should also avoid sharing your toothpaste tube with others who are not gluten-free because traces of gluten left in their mouths and on their toothbrushes can transfer to the toothpaste tube and onto your brush.

Wine: Although wine is generally gluten free, if you drink a lot of wine and are experiencing celiac flare-ups despite diligent gluten-avoidance, you may want to investigate the wine you are drinking. While most American made wines are considered safe for Celiacs, some wineries in other countries use flour paste to seal off their oak barrels and some wine makers also use gluten to clarify their wine. While the amount of gluten contamination is too low to cause a problem for most gluten ‘intolerant’ individuals, it may pose an issue for certain Celiac’s. If you’re concerned, ask the wine maker if the wine is aged in oak barrels or barrel alternatives, whether they use a gluten containing paste to seal the wine and if gluten proteins are used to ‘fine the wine.’

Medications: Although the active ingredients in most medications are gluten free, the inactive ingredients are often tainted with gluten. Unfortunately inactive ingredients are rarely listed on prescription medications so you should contact the supplier of your medication directly to find out whether or not the product is gluten free and ensure it’s produced in a gluten-free facility. When buying over-the-counter medications and supplements be weary of anything with starch derivatives, grain flour, pregelatinized sodium, starch glycolate, dextrates, dextrins or caramel colouring.[i]

Hot Drinks: Herbal teas and tea blends can contain gluten-contaminated ingredients such as barley malt, which is added for sweetness. Even if the ingredients list checks out, the tea bags themselves may be contaminated because some tea bags are sealed with gluten containing wheat paste. Your safest bet when it comes to tea is to buy loose leaf, single ingredient teas such as green, oolong or rooibos. You should also be weary of coffee substitutes since many are made with malt or barley. If you want a healthy coffee alternative look for a gluten-free chicory root based blend.

Multi-ingredient products: Most processed foods contain a list of ingredients that are both vague and hard to decipher. If it says seasonings, thickeners, colourings or flavourings you need to identify the source of all the ingredients in those additives. Malt is also a common ingredient that contains gluten and it can be hidden under the disguise of ‘extract,’ or ‘vinegar.’ If you see modified/gelatinized food starch steer clear and also avoid hydrolyzed food starch, which may be listed as HVP, HPP or TVP (safe starches include rice, potato and tapioca). Finally, be aware that while milk is gluten-free, malted or flavored milk may be contaminated with gluten.[ii]

Non-Dietary Sources: If you have celiac disease certain gluten-containing products that you come in close contact too and may inadvertently ingest can agitate your condition. Products such as hand cream, sunscreen, lipstick, chapstick, chewing gum and play dough can all create a problem for Celiac’s. Using non-dietary gluten-containing products is especially a problem with young children, since they’re always putting their hands in their mouths.


[i] http://www.practicalgastro.com/pdf/September08/HlywiakArticle.pdf
[ii] http://www.practicalgastro.com/pdf/September08/HlywiakArticle.pdf