Gluten Allergy & Cross Reactivity
Many people suffer from celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. It's estimated that 20 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity problem. Tragically, the majority of them are undiagnosed so every day they struggle with unnecessary, painful symptoms.
When we are treating celiac patients in our medical clinic we always make sure that they understand additional foods that might be triggering symptoms.
What Triggers Symptoms
Whether you have full-blown celiac disease or a more mild suspected gluten insensitivity, it is critical to understand the concept ofgluten cross-reactivity.
Cross-reactivity means that your body reacts to more than just the common wheat you might think of as containing gluten.
That's right. It's not just about avoiding wheat!
Unfortunately, 98% of all celiac disease sufferers have one of two variants of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) gene, either DQ2 or DQ8. These genetic variants cause people with food allergies, including celiac disease, to produce exaggerated amounts of a protein called zonulin in response to gluten consumption.
What is Zonulin & Leaky Gut?
Zonulin is a protein that controls the formation of the tight junctions between enterocytes. People with food allergies and sensitivities produce more zonulin than other people. When there is too much zonulin produced in your body those junctions between enterocytes open up. That causes a leaky gut. This in turn allows toxins and metabolic waste in your intestines to pass back into your body instead of leaving like they are supposed to.
There’s some evidence that this leaky gut is a consequence of having a genetic dysfunction but can also be caused from an overabundance bacterium in the intestinal tract.
Gluten cross-reactivity is of particular concern for anyone whose body produces antibodies against gluten. Essentially, when your body creates antibodies against gluten, those same antibodies also recognize proteins in other foods. When you eat those foods, even though they don’t contain gluten, your body reacts as though they do.
You can do a fantastic job of remaining completely gluten-free but still suffer all of the symptoms of gluten consumption—because your body still thinks you are eating gluten.
Common foods that people react to when they are sensitive to gluten are:
- Oats (2 different cultivars)
- Milk (Alpha-Casein, Beta-Casein, Casomorphin, Butyrophilin, Whey Protein and whole milk)
These are foods that can make you feel like you are having a gluten reaction. The muscle pain, the bloating, headaches, fatigue and brain fog are among the most common food allergy complaints.
If you have symptoms when you eat these foods, we recommend that you eliminate these foods and add nutritional supplements to repair intestinal damage, heal leaky gut and lower your symptoms.