Foods that Cross-React with Gluten Induced Autoantibodies

If you have an autoimmune condition, you are intolerant or sensitive to gluten … hands down, there is no way around it.

A gluten-free diet can go a long way to alleviate your autoimmune symptoms, but often times people will notice that some gluten free foods cause their autoimmune conditions to flare up.  This is because your immune system can respond to some gluten free foods as if they are gluten containing foods.  Researchers refer to this as molecular mimicry and the irritating foods are known as cross reactive foods.

The most common cross-reactive food is dairy. In fact it is now estimated that 50% of people with gluten intolerance are also sensitive to dairy…and each year that estimate seems to rise.

If you have an autoimmune condition and have been on a gluten free diet, but still do not seem to be experiencing relief of your symptoms or are unable to modulate the autoimmune response, it is time to consider an elimination/provocation diet that takes cross-reactive foods off your menu.  

Elimination/provocation diets are still considered the gold standard for identifiying food allergies and sensitivities.  This is because once an autoimmune condition exists, there is an imbalance in the immune response system.  The body often does not create anitbodies against the food irritant, instead the body creates autoantibodies against its own tissue that resembles the food irritant molecularly.

This is a list of the most common cross-reactive foods:




casein: a protein found in mammal milk (we most commonly consume cow, goat & sheep)






lactose: a sugar found in mammal milk (we most commonly consume cow, goat & sheep)


oats from conventional granaries (oats from oat only facilities typically are not cross reactive)

polish wheat










Autoimmune responses can occur against any gland, tissue, hormone or neurotransmitter.  A gluten-free diet will have profound positive impacts on your autoimmune condition, but it does not cure the condition.  Once the autoimmune condition develops, you must manage it for life by modulating the immune attack.  Suppressing the immune system with cortisone, other immune suppressing drugs, or thymectomy is not clinically effective and it leads to many other adverse effects.  Nutritional therapy that includes lifestyle changes, dietary changes and nutritoinal supplementation that balances the immune response is the most successful.  Be wary of treatments that isolate one variable or center in on one aspect of the autoimmune condition.  For optimal success, your treatment needs to be centered on specific immune evaluation of YOU, and you alone.

Jul 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

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