At the beginning of the year, I saw my gastroenterologist and complained to her about some issues with bloating that I’d been having. She suggested I try a probiotic and gave me some samples of Restora. They made me feel awful. Thinking I was just experiencing effects from the good bacteria trying to colonize my gut, I tried to stick with them. Finally, I’d had enough and decided to try something else. I tried a couple of different probiotics from Walgreen’s but could never tell a difference with them. I then tried yet another one. Not too long after this, some articles were published explaining that many brands of probiotics labeled gluten-free actually contained gluten at detectable levels, even more than the 20 PPM level allowed for the gluten-free label. I was having some symptoms, and I wondered if the probiotic I was using at the time might be the cause. When I stopped the probiotic, I felt better. I decided not to use one at all until a few months later, when I noticed some GI issues cropping up. I believe now that those were due to trace gluten from the Synthroid I was taking, but at the time I thought it might be due to needing a probiotic. I decided to go online to see if I could find out what others with gluten issues, mainly celiac disease, were using. A tried a couple of the ones that diagnosed celiacs said they used with no issues and ended up having gluten reactions from both. These were capsules. I decided to try a tablet, thinking something about the form factor might be causing problems, but the tablet I tried also seemed to cause gluten reactions. I then wondered if something about the probiotic strains themselves might be an issue since other supplements I was using in tablet or capsule form labeled gluten-free never caused issues. I found out that some probiotic strains could be derived from gluten sources like barley. I then decided to contact some of the manufacturers of the brands I’d been taking to ask if any of the strains used in their probiotics were derived from gluten grains. The ones who responded just regurgitated the claim that their products were gluten-free. The others never responded at all. I then decided to go through the list of certified gluten-free products on the GFCO site. I found a brand there with a couple of different probiotic products, Country Life. I contacted GFCO to ask if they would certify a probiotic if that probiotic contained strains derived from gluten grains. Here is the response I received.

We are not allowed to divulge any specifics of a certified company’s products or ingredients, but I can tell you that we require a complete list of ingredients and components for every certified product, and that no gluten sources are allowed in those ingredients/components.”

I also contacted Country Life and got back the following from them.

Thank you so much for contacting Country Life. Our Probiotics do not contain bacteria strains grown on gluten sources. Please let us know if we can be of any further assistance.”

Country Life was the only company to give me a straight answer on my question concerning whether or not their probiotics contained strains derived from gluten sources.

I’ve been using Country Life’s probiotics for over two months now and have not had any gluten reactions with them. As for whether or not they’re helping, I do know that I get a lot less bloated now than I did before, but that could be from dealing with some repeated gluten exposures that I had not dealt with previously. I do plan to stick with them at least for the foreseeable future. I use the dairy-free acidophilus.

When searching for a truly gluten-free probiotic, I think those with gluten issues need to contact the manufacturer and ask if the probiotic contains strains derived from gluten grains. It’s not enough for them to say the product is gluten-free. They need to say whether or not any of the strains in their product are derived from gluten grains. If the person who responds says that the product does contain gluten-derived strains, if the person doesn’t give a straight answer, or if no one responds at all, I would keep looking. I do however recommend Country Life and checking out what they have to offer.

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