Dr. Dawna Ara, DACM

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Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Part IV): Cross Reactivity and Testing for Gluten Sensitivity

The best and cheapest way to test for gluten sensitivity is to simply take it out of your diet for 30 days, then reintroduce it back into your diet. If you feel better during those 30 days, or feel worse when you add it back in, then it is likely you have gluten sensitivity.

Gluten can continue to confuse the immune system for up to 9 months so don’t be surprised if you are still feeling symptoms from something you ate in the past. But, we have another problem that makes the issue even more confusing…

Cross Reactivity

Not to dampen the situation, but another not so fun thing about gluten is that it can cross react to other foods. Cross Reactivity happens when your immune system confuses gluten proteins with lets say proteins from dairy, or rice, or oats, or corn, or even chocolate and causes the same gluten inflammatory response to those foods.

So even though you’ve been on a gluten free diet for months, your body could still be stuck in a gluten inflammatory state because your immune system is sending out antibodies to attack the foods like non glutenous grains, dairy, chocolate, and coffee that you are currently consuming.

What this means is even though you originally didn’t have a problem with these foods, your immune system is treating them like they contain gluten. This is why I put all my autoimmune patients on a gluten and dairy free diet, because many people with gluten intolerances also have intolerances to dairy.

Foods that Cross React with Gluten
 amaranth buckwheat coffee
chocolate corn dairy
eggs hemp millet
oats potato rice
sesame sorghum soy
tapioca teff yeast
Lab Testing

If after taking gluten and foods that commonly cross react with gluten out of your diet you still have symptoms, then there are lab tests that you can order to determine if your body is still producing antibodies. The most commonly ordered lab tests check for the antibodies IgA and IgG.

Keep in mind if you are going to go through the trouble of testing then you really need to do a full array test from a reputable lab. In my practice I use Cyrex Labs for testing because they can test for antibodies to tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTG) IgA. IgG, and IgM, as well as antibodies to the foods that gluten commonly cross reacts with in your body. For the complete lists of antibodies they test for click here.

Next up, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (Part V): The Elimination Diet.



About Dr. Dawna Ara, DACM
Dr. Dawna Ara is an acupuncturist, herbalist, functional medicine practitioner, a mom, wife, writer, foodie and nature lover. She teaches her patients how to live a healthy lifestyle.