The Top Seven Gluten Impersonators
In the past few decades it has become commonplace to hear that you or someone you know has a gluten allergy. Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten allergy but there is also a more commonly found subset of people who don’t have Celiac disease but are still “gluten sensitive”. These people are also called non-celiac gluten sensitive. This subset has been linked to a variety of chronic degenerative diseases including some autoimmune diseases, most of which have nothing to do with the gastrointestinal area symptomatically. Many of these people faithfully adhere to a gluten free diet (GFD) but still exhibit symptoms and feel frustrated in their lack of recovery to the health challenges that they face.
Dr. Aristo Vojdani Ph.D is the chief scientific advisor for Cyrex Laboratory. He has published over 120 articles in peer reviewed scientific journals and is a multiple US patent holder for laboratory assays. In 2013 he wrote a research article in Food and Nutritional Sciences Journal about the cross reaction between Gliadin (gluten) and different food and tissue antigens. What he discovered was that there are foods that have proteins other than gluten that are so similar structurally to gluten that the immune system reacts to those proteins in the same way it does gluten. Essentially, these foods impersonate gluten and the immune system initiates the same antigen-antibody reaction that would take place from gluten. Here are the top seven.
#1 Milk Products
It turns out there are several proteins in milk that are potential impersonators. Alpha and Beta Casein, Casomorphin, Whey, and Milk Butyrophilin. Milk Butyrophilin is found in the fat of milk and in butter and there has been some evidence of a connection between this and Multiple Sclerosis. It does not matter if you consume raw organic grass-fed milk products. If you have a sensitivity to gluten these milk proteins are often interpreted by your immune system as an allergen.
Both brewer’s yeast and baker’s yeast or more specifically the yeast called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. Obviously, beer, and breads contain this yeast but also nutritional yeast or if you see ingredients such as yeast extract and autolyzed yeast extract you could get a reaction. There is a strong connection between yeast and ulcerative colitis, and crohn’s disease. Yeast and gluten are considered bidirectional antibodies meaning exposure to yeast will increase gluten antibodies. It is possible to test for anti-saccharomyces cerevisiae antibodies or (ASCA) by blood testing.
The general feeling is that lipid transfer protein is the major cause of corn allergies and it is this protein that causes the cross reactive immune response for those with a gluten sensitivity. The amount of lipid transfer protein does vary between corn varieties, and it does seem to be higher in yellow corn.
Much like corn, different varieties of oats can affect the immune response by our immune system from a protein in oats called Avenin. Avenin is a protein that can a cause cross reactivity in the immune system similarly to gluten. Some varieties of oats contain no Avenin and others contain more. When you see oats and it says it is gluten free it is probably referring to the fact that their oats are being processed in a facility without exposure to other gluten containing grains. Cross contamination of real gluten to oats can occur from a facility that doesn’t take at least that precaution, but it doesn’t guarantee that a gluten free facility has tested for Avenin levels.
The problem with millet is believed to be a higher percentage of amylase inhibitors.
#6 Instant Coffee
It appears that regular ground coffee doesn’t cross react immunologically however instant coffee had a significant cross reaction.
Dr. Vojdani’s research proves that there is a more complex picture going on regarding the gluten sensitivity issue. We have all been fooled by comedians who were able to impersonate someone famous. Unfortunately, when it’s the immune systems antibody response becoming activated, it’s no laughing matter and it will still cause the same inflammatory reaction and auto immune cascade common to Celiac, Hashimoto’s thyroid, Rheumatoid arthritis, M.S., Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and Psoriasis patients that gluten does.
The saying, “knowledge is power” applies here. If you are following a gluten free diet and you are still experiencing health issues, it would serve you well to try eliminating these seven items. If you would like to get tested for them, Cyrex labs has a variety of testing panels for this purpose. Their Array #4 costs 225.00 and tests 28 foods including the seven mentioned here for both IgA and IgG reactions. If anyone would be interested in getting this done, you would need to pick up a test kit from my office and have a blood draw at a local lab. The other markers that make up the 28 foods are milk chocolate, sesame, buckwheat, rye, barley, polish wheat, spelt, sorghum, hemp, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca, teff, soybean, egg, and potato. However, it should be noted that in some cases this testing has false negatives because if someone is immunocompromised (low functioning immune system) their immune system may not test positive.
A gluten sensitivity is for life. However, a cross reactive food sensitivity may not be. Once someone avoids these foods for a period and heals their immune system stress, leaky gut syndrome etc., they may in most cases return to eating these foods.