How Much Gluten is Too Much?

The amount of gluten that can be tolerated varies among people with celiac disease. In general, research suggests that less than 10 milligrams (mg) of gluten daily is unlikely to cause significant damage to the intestines in most celiac people. However, these small amounts could still be enough to make a person feel unwell.

So how small is 10 mg? A dime weighs about 2,200 mg (2.2 g). Tricia Thompson, RD, a celiac disease authority, explains that a one-ounce slice of regular white bread has approximately 3,515 mg of gluten, or 351 times the maximum daily amount that’s safe for celiac patients. That means even a crumb is too much!

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can cut a slice of bread into 350 little crumbs and eat one of them–even if you’re maintaining a diet that is otherwise gluten-free, chances are good that you’re still getting some gluten daily. Regulations in most parts of the world allow a product to be labeled gluten-free if it contains up to 20 parts per million of gluten (equivalent to about 20 mg per kilo).

Even a slice of gluten-free bread contains a little over 1/2 mg of gluten, so sticking to an entirely gluten-free diet is not only the best way, but the only way, to ensure your gluten intake is at a safe level!

Tina Turbin

From our home to yours, Tina Turbin
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I'm a cookbook-collecting, recipe-developing paleo junkie, and I live in the kitchen. I'm hooked on farmers' markets, traveling, eating healthy, and hiking until my legs scream at me. There's nothing better than hanging out with family and good friends. I have fun and sleeping is just plain boring. Read more About Tina Turbin.

8 thoughts on “How Much Gluten is Too Much?

  1. This is good to know! Even just a bite of something with gluten will make me ill. Basically you just can’t afford to not be incredibly vigilant about your diet. It’s nothing you want to play around with even if you don’t feel sick when you have a little bit. It can cause damage whether you notice it or not!

  2. Yeah pretty much ANY gluten is too much. That’s a shame! But I’ve actually heard about there being an enzyme eventually that may possibly be able to break down gluten so you can still have a little bit. I don’t know if I could ever really see that happening, but it does give us a little hope. In the end though if you really put some time and effort into it you can make a gluten-free diet VERY satisfying and then you won’t need to eat things with gluten. So many great food companies exist out there, many of which you’ve reviewed actually, which make gluten free alternatives to foods that taste just like the real thing! With gluten free food being the fastest growing sector of the food industry, we can rest assured that we can have a very satisfying diet even if it doesn’t have gluten in it.

  3. I’ve always wondered about this. I’m glad you used Tricia Thompson as your reference. She does great work and I read her blog often.

  4. Yikes! That comparison to a slice of bread is outrageous but it really puts it into perspective that you should pretty much not ANYTHING with gluten. When I was first diagnosed celiac, I would have a little bite here and there on gluten containing food and at first I didn’t notice anything but soon it would actually make me feel really sick. I didn’t understand why but my nutritionist asked if ever even have a crumb of regular bread or cake and he said that I should cut that out. It totally handled the illness I was having! Can you imagine? Just from a crumb a couple times a week!

  5. I had hope when I saw this blog title that maybe I could have just a little bit of gluten-containing bread, but dang oh well! The truth is I’ve never felt better since going gluten-free so I wouldn’t even want to have gluten and I have great alternatives that I’ve mastered in the kitchen, so who wants gluten anyway?

  6. Man, that’s too bad! I guess that’s why you have to call up companies and make sure their products are totally gluten free!

  7. Thanks Tina for answering this question of mine I’ve had! I like that you give helpful information not just for veteran celiac people, of whom you seem to have many among your readership, but for newbies such as myself.

  8. Although I pretty much knew the answer, that ANY gluten is too much, still thanks for the information behind this and the actual amount. I guess I did have a mystery there about that and I feel much more gung-ho about staying totally gluten-free.

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