Gluten Free Diet Ineffective? Learn about Cross-Reactivity.

May 7, 2010

Invenzioni [Inventions]

People who suffer from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease have one simple solution: a gluten free diet.

However, the human body is complex. For some, simply avoiding gluten is not enough. Cross-reactivity is a condition where your body’s autoimmune antibodies mistake other food proteins for ones you can’t tolerate. Cross-reaction to other foods creates the same effect as though you consumed gluten.

If a gluten free diet is not yielding the results you’d hoped, then try eliminating the following foods.  You may be experiencing cross-reactivity.

Dairy Produce:

Research has found that patients with gluten sensitivity can have a high frequency of cross-reactivity to milk.  The cross-reactivity stems from the milk protein casein and whey. Immunoreactivity to milk is not to be confused with lactose intolerance. The two are completely separate. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest milk sugar (lactose).

Nightshade Vegetables:

Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and potatoes are a group of foods that contain a protein called lectin, which is similar to gluten. Ingesting lectin can cause the antibodies you’ve formed against gluten to react to the lectin, thus resulting in a similar immune reaction you’d have with gluten.

Eliminate nightshade vegetables from your diet if you continue to have symptoms on a strict gluten-free diet.


Carrageenan is a food additive and thickener, derived from red algae. Food manufacturers use it because it adds softness and smoothness to products.

Some products containing carrageenan:

Soya milk,  chewable vitamins & minerals, processed meats, cottage cheese,  chocolate puddings and other soya products.

Carrageenan is extensively used, which means you may actually be eating significant quantities of it.

Suspect foods

Trust your ‘gut feeling’ (pardon the pun). Be mindful of anything you eat that you believe makes you feel sick. If you suspicious of a certain food, remove it from your diet and see if you’re better off without it.


If you follow a strict gluten free diet, yet are still suffering gluten like symptoms, then there’s a good chance you are suffering from cross-reactivity.

Try eliminating the above foods from your diet, one at a time in the order they were given, until you see improvements.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rich May 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Looking for participants for global survey on living with food sensitivities. Help build awareness of the challenges – survey takes about 6 minutes to complete. To participate, go to

2 Patricia May 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Interesting. I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease for about 9 years and follow Gluten free diet but I am still plagued with IBS problems. I have been trying to figure out a pattern but here is none. I have kept diaries and not the same thing upsets me. I will try eleminating different foods and see if this helps. Thank you for the information. God bless Patricia.

3 Paul Smith May 19, 2010 at 12:22 am

Your welcome Patricia. I wish you all the best and I hope this article does help. regards Paul

4 Denise Don May 19, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Thank you very much for your information. This condition is very complicated and link to other problems. I also would like to mention that in my case I am not able to eat eggs, corn and nuts. Sometimes is difficult to find desserts because the mayority of them include eggs of butter.

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