How new laboratory testing can reveal an array of foods that may be as damaging as gluten! Nutritionist Christine Bailey explains.
Are you suffering with Coeliac Disease (CD) or Gluten Sensitivity yet despite cutting gluten from your diet and religiously reading labels you still don’t feel great? If that sounds familiar then you may be suffering with a gluten-like cross-reaction from other foods.
Research has revealed that many other foods including gluten free grains can ‘cross react’ with gluten (found in wheat, barley and rye). What this means is that your body not only produces antibodies against gluten but these antibodies can attach to other foods too. Essentially your immune system thinks those non-gluten foods are the same as gluten meaning your body still produces an inflammatory reaction damaging tissues throughout the body. If you eat any of these foods your immune system triggers the very same gluten related health problems you are trying to avoid.
To complicate matters when many people first adopt a gluten free diet they tend to over consume an array of gluten free goodies made from copious amounts of rice, amaranth, sorghum, corn, soy and other substitutes.
Some of these gluten free foods can also cause a separate adverse reaction through the development of a new food sensitivity.
Is your body affected?
People with CD (an auto immune condition) or gluten sensitivity often have enzyme dysfunction (enzymes are needed to break down foods), villi damage (little projections in the small intestines essential for absorbing nutrients), intestinal permeability and systemic inflammation. It is now widely recognised in research that that the peptides of gluten found in wheat, rye and barley may detrimentally affect any tissue in the body and are not restricted to the intestines The range of conditions where gluten sensitivity has been implicated is wide and diverse. From the skin (Dermatitis Herpetiformis, Psoriatic arthritis, Alopecia areata etc.), to muscles (inflammatory myopathies), the brain (Gluten Ataxia, Schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, ADHD etc.), nerves and so on. Pathology to gluten exposure can occur in multiple systems without evidence of intestinal damage (1,2). So even if you have cut out all gluten but are eating these cross-reactive foods you may not experience good health. The problem may affect many people. A recent study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2010, showed that even despite following a gluten free diet 57% of those with CD did not fully heal their gut and recover (3).
It is crucial that you identify food sensitivities and/or foods that are cross-reacting. But as we all know we are individuals – what affects one person may not be a problem for another. So how to find out?
Enter a new generation of lab testing from Cyrex Laboratories. For those of you who not familiar with Cyrex they are a clinical immunology laboratory (based in Phoenix) specializing in autoimmunity. Cyrex offers multi-tissue antibody testing and specialize in gluten sensitivity, cross reactivity and related testing. Until now Cyrex panels were not available in the UK much to the frustration of practitioners like myself. However thanks to discussions with Regenerus Labs these long awaited tests are now finally available. Regenerus Laboratories (www.regeneruslabs.com) has exclusive rights to provide these tests throughout the UK and Ireland and will be launching them in November. Justin Price CEO of Regenerus Laboratories explains “These new arrays will allow doctors and practitioners to assess the treatment effectiveness, monitor disease pathogenesis and predict flares in certain autoimmune disorders, Regenerus Laboratories are extremely pleased to empower our practitioners with these new clinical practice tools. “ In fact these tests could finally improve the long-term health for thousands of people in the UK.
There are 9 different test panels. Array 4 is the Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity panel. The other panels are also incredibly beneficial for those suffering with gluten sensitivity and autoimmune conditions or have a family history of autoimmune disease. The other panels include Gluten intolerance saliva testing, intestinal permeability, Wheat/Gluten Proteome Reactivity Autoimmunity, Multiple Autoimmune Reactivity Screen and specialised autoimmunity panels. For further information on all these panels you can contact my clinic at www.advancenutrition.co.uk email email@example.com or contact Regenerus Labs (www.regeneruslabs.com).
Why we need these new tests
Without accurate lab testing there is a risk you will continue to suffer a range of health problems including in the long-term additional autoimmune conditions. Ensuring your gut heals and lowering inflammation and levels of antibodies is essential for your long-term health.
Autoimmune diseases are now the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world (4). They are also ten times more common in someone with gluten sensitivity than in the general population (5). Duration of gluten exposure is a key factor in developing other autoimmune diseases (6). The longer sensitive individuals eat gluten, the more likely they are to develop other autoimmune diseases.
Top foods that could be damaging your health
What is surprising is the range of top foods that appears to invoke this cross reactivity. If you like your morning Starbucks then be warned – It has been found that coffee contains a protein that cross-reacts with gluten antibodies and this includes decaffeinated coffee.
So what are the top cross-reactive foods? Obviously you need to avoid all wheat, rye, barley, spelt, polish wheat (kamut) but Cyrex Laboratories have also found the following foods/proteins to be a problem
- Cow’s Milk
- Milk, Butyrophilin
- Whey protein
- Milk Chocolate
In addition their panel shows that there are a range of gluten free foods that commonly result in a food sensitivity reaction.
So what does this mean?
If you are gluten sensitive or have CD and have cut out gluten foods yet still not feel 100% then taking this test could highlight other foods you need to avoid. Cross-reactive foods would need to be totally eliminated from the diet. Those foods showing up as a sensitivity need to be removed from the diet until the gut is healed. Then you could start to reintroduce these foods on a rotation basis. You do need to work with a qualified practitioner to ensure your gut heals effectively and your diet is providing optimal nutrition.
So to enjoy even better health and healing going gluten free may not be enough.
If you would like more information about anything discussed here you visit Christine’s website www.advancenutrition.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Hadjivassiliou et. Al. (2010) Gluten sensitivity: from gut to brain. Lancet Neurol. 2010 Mar;9(3):318-30
2. Hadjivassiliou et. Al. (2003) Gluten ataxia in perspective: epidemiology, genetic susceptibility and clinical characteristics, Brain. 2003 Mar;126(Pt 3):685-91.
3. Rubio-Tapia et. Al. (2010) Mucosal Recovery and Mortality in Adults With Celiac Disease After Treatment With a Gluten-Free Diet Am J Gastroenterol advance online publication 9 February 2010; doi: 10.1038/ajg.2010.10
4. Arnson Y, Amital H, and Shoenfeld Y, Vitamin D and autoimmunity: new aetiological ?and therapeutic considerations, J of Immunology, 2005, 175: 4119–4126
5. Alaedini A, Okamoto H, Briani, C, Wollenberg K, Shill H, Bushara K, Sander H, Green ?P, Hallett M, Latov N, Immune Cross-Reactivity in Celiac Disease: Anti-Gliadin Antibodies Bind to Neuronal Synapsin I, The Journal of Immunology, 2007, 178: 6590– 6595.
6. Ventura A, Magazzú G, Greco L; SIGEP Study Group for Autoimmune Disorders in Celiac Disease. Duration of exposure to gluten and risk for autoimmune disorders in patients with celiac disease. Gastroenterology. 1999;117:297–303.
Halle-flippin-lujah! At last: Cyrex announced these about 18 months ago and have made us wait! I didn’t though and have been testing these cross-reactive foods with IgA, IgM and IgG antibodies for about a year – you might recall I wrote about the cross-reactive foods for FM back then. It makes it much easier to show people why they have to give up the cross-reactive foods they are showing antibodies to if they want to heal. Seeing it on paper helps. The Barrier Plan has knocked almost all of those potential problem foods out anyway: I left egg and yeast in to make life that bit easier but remove them if they come up with antibodies. Tis a minefield!
It will be much easier I hope though now as we’ll be able to get it done in the UK 🙂 The really great new test will be the zonulin/occludin one to signify the true hyper-permeability caused by gluten. V exciting!
And, yes, I thought you’d been a bit quiet 😉
Hi Micki, it does make a lot of sense doesn’t it. I’m finally have all the coeliac tests but suspect I may have a wheat allergy. I’m hoping it’s just that which will be simpler to manage. My problem is that I’m fine at home but really struggle nearly every time I eat out. Only a few places I can trust which is very frustrating. I usually love cooking but just occasionally it would be nice to indulge. Not like me to be this quiet but hopefully I’m back again now. Phew… what a manic few weeks.
Tell me about it. I was almost tempted last weekend to just go and eat out for a break from cooking and suffer the consequences of it for the next 3-4 days. Then I remembered an ingestion of gluten to someone with gluten sensitivity/coeliac disease = an estimated 2 months’ inflammation and a major set back. Enough to stop me! Sigh.
Alex Gazzola says
Hi Christine, hi Micki,
I have many questions, but will restrict myself to one, concerning this line: “It has been found that coffee contains a protein that cross-reacts with gluten antibodies and this includes decaffeinated coffee.”
Do you know of any evidence / reference for this claim?