This post about The Gluten Detective Test review contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosures. This post has been updated on September 14, 2018.
Have you ever wondered if your gluten-free diet is, well, really gluten-free?
I know a lot of people who are “gluten-free” but who still suffer from a variety of maladies that might be linked to gluten consumption.
So what if I told you that you could actually take a peek inside to see if you’re gluten-free diet is really gluten-free?
The Gluten Detective test is an at-home gluten exposure detecting kit. Individuals following a gluten-free diet can test themselves, at-home, to see if their gluten-free diet is really gluten-free, or if gluten is still somehow finding its way inside.
This test offers a new level of transparency (what’s going on inside) and control (do the test at home, no expensive doctor visits) like never before.
In this post, I will share more about how this gluten detecting test works as well as why someone might want to take the test. At the end of this article, I’ll share the my personal test results.
When You Might Use The Gluten Detective Test
First I’d like to talk a bit about why you might need this at-home gluten exposure detecting test.
(1) Find Out If You’re Still Eating Gluten
So many of us wonder if we’re still eating gluten even if we’re being careful. This is especially true for someone who is asymptotic (someone who does not experience symptoms) when they ingest gluten. Maybe something we enjoy eating on a daily basis, or perhaps a medication we take daily, has gluten in it and we don’t realize we’re ingesting gluten each and every day. With the Gluten Detective test, you can know, with a greater level of certainty, if you’ve been consuming gluten.
Let’s first talk science because there are several studies that show people who shouldn’t be eating gluten may be consuming unhealthy amounts of it, even if unknowingly.
Experts say that a person with celiac disease can safely consume 10 mg of gluten per day without triggering their symptoms (zero gluten is ideal, however). Yet, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the average amount of gluten consumed on a gluten-free diet is 224-363 mg per day – FAR GREATER than the 10 mg of gluten a person with celiac disease can safely consume!
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the average amount of gluten consumed on a gluten-free diet was 224-363 mg per day – more than the 10 mg of gluten that a person with celiac disease can safely consume!” display_tweet=”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the average amount of gluten consumed on a gluten-free diet was 224-363 mg per day – more than the 10 mg of gluten that a person with celiac disease can safely consume!”]
Also, researchers in Gut found detectable levels of gluten peptides in 89 percent of celiac patients on a gluten-free diet. It’s no wonder that a “substantial” number of celiac disease patients still show intestinal damage even after implementing a gluten-free diet.
[socialpug_tweet tweet=”A study published in Gut found that detectable levels of gluten peptides could still be found in 89 percent of celiac patients on a gluten-free diet! #celiacdiseaseawareness” display_tweet=”A study published in Gut found that detectable levels of gluten peptides could still be found in 89 percent of celiac patients on a gluten-free diet! #celiacdiseaseawareness”]
On top of it all, Nima Sensor found 35 percent of so-called “gluten-free meals” served at restaurants actually contain gluten! This means one in every three gluten-free meals aren’t really gluten-free at all. Again, it’s no wonder so many people are still consuming gluten even if they are working hard at being gluten-free.
However, today, we have a greater level of transparency into what we’re eating than ever before… and this is where the Gluten Detective comes in handy.
Let’s say you take the test and it comes back positive for gluten in your urine or stool. This might indicate that you’re eating gluten and not being careful enough.
However, if the Gluten Detective test comes back negative, but you don’t feel your normal, best self, you may come to the realization that it’s not [just] gluten that is making you feel a certain way; rather it could be another food sensitivity, candida, or poor gut health. You may need to eliminate other foods or change your diet beyond being gluten-free. (I highly recommend the at-home Everlywell food sensitivity test for uncovering food sensitivities.)
If you take the test and find gluten in your system, I recommend repeating the test each month until you get a negative result so you can know for sure if the changes you’re making to your diet are working.
(2) Get Insights Into Your Child’s Diet
Another use for the Gluten Detective test is to help you keep an eye on your child’s diet.
A lot of children with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity struggle to be gluten-free, especially without an adult around them ALL of the time to monitor their diet and advocate for them. It is very hard for a child to know what is safe to eat and what is not.
On top of it all, it can be difficult for a parent to manage every single bite of food a child puts in his or her mouth.
My friend put her child on a gluten-free diet, but I spotted the boy at an after school activity chowing down on peanut butter crackers he purchased from the vending machine. He was quietly sitting next to the machine, in a corner, eating it suspiciously. (BTW, I know it’s hard being a kid and not be able to eat foods you love – and I know gluten is addictive too. The struggle is real and I have a lot of sympathy and respect for such families dealing with gluten avoidance.)
My friend could not figure out why her child’s symptoms had not resolved – and she was ready to write-off the gluten-free diet – when she found out her child had been sneaking food from the vending machine all along. The gluten-free diet doesn’t work unless you’re 100 percent gluten-free. Low gluten or occasional gluten negates any effort put forth into being gluten-free. (Read Don’t Cheat on Your Gluten-Free Diet.)
If parents suspect their child is eating gluten – maybe on the sly at school or camp – they can test their child for gluten exposure using the Gluten Detective test and know for sure. Sometimes a little visual proof can help a child understand that sneaking gluten is not okay and the parent can now help redirect the child toward making better decisions.
When Not to Use the Gluten Detective Test
The Gluten Detective promotes itself as a test you can use to find out if you were accidentally glutened from last night’s dinner. While some people use the Gluten Detective for this application, I think this is where things get a little more tricky. (Read: 7 Ways to Recover from an Accidental Gluten Exposure)
While you may become ill after eating at a restaurant, I think it’s difficult and unwise to blame that particular restaurant for glutening you based on a positive test taken the next day. Remember, you have to wait at least one day after suspected gluten exposure to get an accurate test.
However, you eat many times throughout the day and you eat every day, so if you have gluten in your system (remember, gluten could be found in 89 percent of people with celiac disease who are on a gluten-free diet), how in the world would you be able to pinpoint it to one specific incident?
Therefore, I do not recommend the Gluten Detective test if the sole goal is to find out if you were recently glutened at a restaurant as it’s just too difficult to pinpoint where an exact gluten exposure might have come from AFTER it has been consumed. Plus, the gluten could have been the mint you ate after dinner or the ice cream you ate with friends that night, or it could have been something you’ve been eating every day (as we discussed, you would not know if that gluten exposure is ongoing or new unless you take multiple Gluten Detective tests and benchmark and track your gluten levels after each test).
That said, if you are worried about continued exposure to gluten based on the results of your test, or suspect a restaurant is serving up gluten-free meals that actually contain gluten, I highly recommend you invest in a Nima Sensor.
While the Gluten Detective test detects gluten AFTER you have consumed it, and the gluten could have come from any number of sources, the Nima Sensor detects gluten in your actual food BEFORE you eat it. This allows you to pinpoint the source of gluten before you even ingest it.
I personally use my Nima Sensor to test dishes at restaurants before I eat the food so I can know with a greater level of certainty if gluten is in it. I also use the sensor to test products I suspect may contain gluten.
Available Gluten Detecting Tests
The Gluten Detective has two tests available – the urine test and stool test. (If you’re the faint of heart, stop reading because we’re going to talk about pee and poop… a lot!)
The urine test is A LOT easier and straightforward, while the stool test has a few additional (and more squeamish) components to it.
The urine test is 96 percent accurate when taken in a 1-24 hour window of possible gluten exposure, although the optimal window for testing is in the 6-16 hour range. It can detect gluten only if you eat 500 mg of gluten, which is equivalent to two bites of bread. This test is ideal if you think you were not served a gluten-free meal after all – gasp! This is for testing for major gluten exposure or for long-term exposure to gluten over time.
The stool test is also 96 percent accurate and can be taken 1-7 days after possible gluten exposure, with the ideal window of testing 2-4 days. The stool test can pick up 50 mg of gluten, the equivalent to a crumb of bread (vs. two bites of bread for the urine test). It is 10 times more sensitive at detecting gluten than the urine test because most gluten clears from the body through your stool. (Told you we would be talking about poop a lot!)
This graphic is from the Gluten Detective website to help you see the specificity of each test.
My Gluten Detective Results
I am meticulous about my gluten-free diet. If a food is in question for any reason, I just don’t eat it. It’s not worth getting sick. I test a lot of my food with my Nima Sensor, and likely over communicate with restaurant servers and chefs about my need for a gluten-free meal (I even wrote an ebook called Eating Out Gluten Free to teach people how to effectively communicate with waitstaff).
Yet, there are still occasions where I come home and feel sick, mostly after eating at a restaurant (and very occasionally after eating at a friend’s house).
And sure enough, within days of the Gluten Detective sending me a urine and stool test, I ate at a restaurant and had that not-so-good feeling afterwards.
Beyond that, I have ALWAYS been curious if my gluten-free diet was actually gluten-free. After learning that 89 percent of people with celiac disease still have detectable levels of gluten in their urine or stool, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was one of the 89 percent.
So the morning after my suspect meal, I decided to take the urine test. The test came back negative, which means I did not have detectable gluten in my system for the past 24 hours.
I waited a few two days and did the stool test, thinking surely I had gluten in my system (maybe a crumb vs. two bites of bread worth), and the stool test, too, came back negative.
With this information in hand, I realized a few things:
(1) I realized that I was a very diligent gluten-free eater. Yay me!!
(2) I now understand that I shouldn’t blame possible gluten exposure for every digestive issue. I might have eaten something that didn’t agree with me, and which caused me to experience excessive toilet time that night. (I warned you to stop reading this article if you didn’t want to talk about poop.)
Should You Try the Gluten Detective?
The long and short answer is, YES, you should definitely try the Gluten Detective. In fact, I recommend you purchase a few to keep on hand. You never know when you might fall ill and want to test yourself for gluten.
I HIGHLY recommend you first do a urine test to get a benchmark. This will tell you if you have a detectable amount of gluten in your system and, if so, will force you to examine your diet more closely and make changes.
I also recommend you take the test again as regular checkups on yourself and/or your child, especially at times when you’re not feeling your best self. Maybe there detectable levels of gluten in your body? Maybe something else is wrong? The Gluten Detective test can give you such insights so you can adjust your diet accordingly.
The Gluten Detective Test
While I love the application of the test, I must admit in my Gluten Detective review that the urine and stools tests take a little getting used to.
I had to read the instructions over and over again to make sure I didn’t miss a step. I struggled a bit to collect a stool sample and then mix it properly with the liquids in the kit. Make sure you dedicate plenty of “toilet time” to do the tests properly and slowly so you don’t miss any steps.
I hope the testing technology will improve over time and become easier and quicker to use. In the meantime, being able to do the tests by myself in the comfort of my own home can’t be beat – and for that, it’s worth dealing with the complexities of conducting this test.
Where to Buy
The Gluten Detective urine and stool tests are available online only at GlutenDetective.com. First time orders enjoy 25 percent off too with the code WELCOME when you check out here. Each test is $22.50, and bulk purchase discounts are available.
I hope you enjoyed my Gluten Detective test review. If you try the test, please come back and leave a comment to let us know your results (and thoughts on the process)? Thank you!