Gluten and cross reactive foods

After a year of being gluten-free, I found that I was still having some gluten-like reactions to food, and I assumed I was having hidden gluten issues. I was ultra careful about what I was eating; reading labels, researching known hidden sources, etc, and so I assumed I was having an issue while eating out.

Since celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue (such as intestinal tissue) in response to eating gluten, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food, which cause nutritional deficiencies and may result in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis.  Those of us with a wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually do not have severe intestinal damage, and are typically considered to not be at risk for such nutritional deficiencies, or for an increased risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.

However, I haven’t found that to be the case for me. As many of you might already know, or will soon learn, having a gluten intolerance often goes hand in hand with various auto-immune conditions (Hashimoto’s for me), and thus, having an auto-immune disorder makes you more susceptible to other auto-immune diseases. So its important to remember that you will feel best when you quiet your immune system as much as possible (by eliminating those foods which cause an allergic/immune response).

To that point, even if you do eliminate all gluten from your diet, you may still find that your level of improvement is not nearly as much as it should be. And as I mentioned earlier, I was gluten-free for over a year, and was still having allergic responses. So I stopped eating out, in case that was the culprit, and to ensure I wasn’t accidentally eating gluten without knowing it. After a few months, I was still having reactions, so I had a test dont that was relatively new to the market.   

Cyrex Labs offers a cross-reactive food panel test which will help you to know if there are other foods which you are having an allergic/immune response too (note that these foods which came up on my panel were not allergens according to my previous IGE and IGG tests).

Cyrex Labs offers detailed gluten related antibody panels, intestinal permeability panels and cross reactive foods panels.  More information and details coming asap.  Note:  If you have no knowledgeable practitioner to prescribe these tests, they can be ordered through  Dr. Thomas O’Bryan offers these these with prescription, local lab services and mailing expenses included.  Look for links to Dr. Tom’s Gluten World and Gluten Sensitivity testing on the home page.

What did I learn?

The fact is that most people who discover one allergy, find out that they have other allergies and sensitivities as well.

What I found out is that I am having cross reactive responses to many of the gluten-free grains that I was using in place of gluten. For example, the many wonderful gluten-free products I was eating contained gluten-free grains which I grew to love, but apparently cannot effectively process. These grains included millet, quinoa, potatoes, rice and corn; effectively leaving me to eat a grain-free diet.

What’s important to consider here is that most of the gluten-free products available to us now contain grains which are commonly causing a cross reactive response for many gluten intolerant people. Be diligent about your health progress; keep journals and make note of what you eat vs which responses you have. And don’t be surprised if you too have a similar cross reactive response to other grains.

Many of today’s health challenges are linked to food sensitivities. 

When foods contributing to food allergy symptoms are continually ingested, the body eventually revolts which results in “allergic” symptoms.  The body recognizes certain foods as strange, hostile invaders and it reacts in an allergic manner. Some food sensitivity symptoms are: migrainesfibromyalgia and chronic painfatigue,insomniagastrointestinal disorderseczemahyperactivityconstant sinus congestion or weakened immune systemADHD/ADDpremature agingasthma and even obesity.

Some of the common problem foods for the gluten sensitive are:

  • Dairy
  • Nightshades
  • Peanuts
  • Soy

My 2 cents…

If you are on a gluten-free diet, and you still don’t feel at your best, try eliminating the foods listed above as a starting point.  I suggest that you remove all of these types of foods, all at once, and with luck, you will feel much better after a few days (although it could take several weeks before you notice any improvement). If you think you might also have some additional foods which are triggering an immune response, I would highly recommend the Cyrex Cross Reactive Food Panel as well.

If you choose to bypass the test, and opt for the elimination and reintroduction method, be sure to reintroduce the foods one at a time, waiting several days before you decide if that food is OK or not. Depending on your reaction, you may get a negative reaction almost right away, or it could take several days before you notice anything.

I also recommend you keep a food journal as you reintroduce foods so you will be able to keep track of the foods you can tolerate, and those you can’t.  To be honest, a food journal throughout your journey is a great idea in general! You will most likely discover you have varying responses, and it will become almost impossible to keep track of all the reactions you have.

In short, don’t be surprised if you have other foods which will join your allergen list, even if you aren’t directly allergic to them. Yes, I know, it sucks, but I’m afraid it’s often the case. Wellness Dish will cover topics to help you live grain free in the event that you find yourself among the many of us who have to avoid all grains in response to cross reactive allergies. I promise you, once you discover these foods which are also causing allergic responses, and eliminate them from your diet, you will quickly feel better and living without will become a part of your life that you embrace, much like you did when you discovered you were among the many millions of us suffering from a gluten intolerance.

To knowledge, discipline, dedication and good health!

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