Are You Accidentally Eating Foods That Cross React with Gluten? The Top 10 Triggers

Written By


Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

Gluten - Surprised,European,Fashionable,Woman,Has,Slice,Of,Pizza,Looks,At

So, you went “gluten free” to fix your gut issues, get rid of inflammation or support your celiac disease diagnosis, BUT you still don’t feel better…What’s the deal?!

Answer: You may be eating foods that cross react with gluten. 

Here’s the scoop on all-you-need-to-know about gluten, gluten-free diets and the top 10 trigger foods that cross react with gluten ( not making you feel so hot).

Gluten 101

Gluten - Woman Looking At The Cakes With Gluten On The Table

 To Gluten or Not to Gluten?

Gluten is one of those “controversial” topics up there with vegan vs. carnivore age old debates.

It seems like every health conscious person is gluten-free nowadays, however did you know that gluten in and of itself is NOT as unnatural as you may think?

Gluten and grains were staples for many humans, even long before modern day agriculture, food processing and celiac disease diagnoses.

For instance, people who lived near the Sea of Galilee, ate wheat and barley during the peak of the last Ice Age—more than 10,000 years before wheat and barley were packaged and sold on shelves as crackers, breads, pastas and beyond. Similarly, people with Mediterranean, Israeli and Middle Eastern descent included grains as a staple in their diet.  These grains were pure, had a high protein content, low anti-nutrient content, zero pesticides and were properly prepared (soaked and sprouted).

The bottom line: gluten—real gluten—may not be as bad as people think, and human bodies (at one time) knew how to digest and break down gluten…until modern day gluten happened (closely followed by leaky gut, celiac disease and other autoimmunities).

Modern Day Gluten

The gluten we eat today in the U.S. is not real gluten. Its 100% different.

Part of the reason gluten is so reactive now is because it’s been “hybridized”, meaning it’s a completely new man-made gluten protein altogether. In immunology research, they actually use the term “modern wheat” versus native wheat. Modern wheat is a completely different protein than “native (natural) wheat” gluten. This is why your parents or grandparents ate Wonder Bread and Cheerios and didn’t have any reactions, but now people are way more gluten sensitive. Entirely new wheat.

Most forms of gluten, and many gluten-free products on shelves, are also processed foods—they’ve been sprayed with round up and contain high levels of glyphosate or “Round Up” a toxin that kills weeds and gut bugs.

Some countries still use native wheat like France and Italy. This is why some people don’t have reactions in those countries. They only react to the new proteins in the U.S.. This is called “non-celiac gluten sensitivity;” whereas gluten allergy or autoimmunity—celiac disease, makes a person reactive to both gluten in foreign countries and the U.S. However, don’t be misled.

Regardless of if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, either reaction are equally serious.

Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is a full blown autoimmune disorder that attacks the small intestine and shortens the intestinal villi that helps you digest all sorts of foods (gluten and beyond).

In order to slow down intestinal damage, the individual must strictly avoid gluten (and gluten cross contaminated foods) in order to heal their gut. Common celiac disease symptoms upon exposure to gluten may include: diarrhea or IBS and constipation, joint pain, migraines, brain fog, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, blurred vision, stomach pain, fatigue, osteoporosis and osteopenia, all sorts of nutrient deficiencies and leaky gut.

In fact, if an individual with celiac disease is exposed to even just a little bit of gluten (such as at a restaurant or in a gluten cross-contaminated food), it can invoke damage to their gut lining and set them into a flare for up to 6 to 8 weeks. Studies show celiac disease is slow and progressive—even on a gluten free diet, over 30% of celiac disease patients will still not improve or recover their gut lining.

Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is basically defined as any immune response to gluten. However, unlike celiac disease, the immune response is not necessarily an autoimmune attack on the small intestine. Instead, gluten sensitivity may involve a wide range of inflammatory and oxidative stress reactions in the body, including gut and brain tissue attacks, fatigue, brain fog, bloating, IBS, thyroid problems, skin problems, headaches, constipation…you name it.

Gluten-Free” Gone Wrong

It is important to note that it’s not just gluten that causes problems—it’s the different forms of gluten and gluten-like proteins that can cause issues, both found in gluten foods and gluten-free products.

Unfortunately, many practitioners, doctors and lab tests out there don’t recognize this.

You may do a food intolerance test for gluten, but most food intolerance tests only assesses for ONE form of gluten—alpha gliadin, not the 20 OTHER types of gluten (“modern wheat”), or the countless foods that cross-react with gluten.

As a result, you may adopt a gluten free diet, thinking you are “doing all the things,” but you are continually being exposed to gluten. Over 60% of people on a gluten-free diet think they are eating gluten free, but they are actually exposed to gluten in sneaky forms (from restaurants to some foods labeled “gluten-free”).

This is why many people go gluten free and still don’t feel better! They are still eating foods they are sensitive to and the body sees as gluten—has a cross-reaction to the proteins that remind it of gluten itself.

Without further ado, here are the top 10 trigger foods that cross react with gluten (in no particular order). 

The Top 10 Trigger Foods That Cross-React with Gluten 

  1. Dairy (casein)
  2. Corn
  3. Soy
  4. Rice
  5. Oats
  6. Coffee
  7. Yeast
  8. Eggs
  9. Potato (regular)
  10. Quinoa
  11. Plus, other ingredients found in gluten free foods: millet, sorghum, tapioca, hemp, buckwheat, rye, barley

No, you will NOT react to all these foods, nor do you need to avoid all gluten cross-contaminating foods. However, as a general rule of thumb, it’s a pretty safe bet to avoid modern day gluten and most processed, packaged and brown foods in the U.S. The gluten we see in our grocery stores today is simply not the real thing, and just because a product says “gluten free” does not mean it’s “gluten cross reactive free.” Insider hack: Eat more foods that don’t have labels at all, along with lots of color (veggies) and 1-ingredient foods (like chicken, greens, beef, apples, carrots, etc.).

Not sure what cross-reactive foods, if any, you are sensitive to? Or need help putting together a sustainable gluten free diet? Contact me today at my virtual clinic to book an appointment.



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