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Living With Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease

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18 Gluten Cross Reactive Foods

gluten cross reactivity

In our continued discussion about Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease one must discuss the large percentage of individuals that do not improve on a strict gluten-free diet. Existing amongst many of those with gluten sensitivity is a cross reactivity issue with other dietary proteins. This means the immune system will react with other proteins as if they were gluten.

Studies show that about 50% of gluten sensitive patients also have a problem with a protein called casein found in bovine (cow) dairy. This may be part of the reason that so many gluten sensitive patients do not improve by just eliminating gluten. But the problem does not stop there.

A new laboratory dedicated to gluten sensitivity, autoimmune disorders and immunology in general called Cyrex Labs sites many studies supporting this issue of cross reactivity. They offer extensive testing to pinpoint what foods may be causing further problems for those with gluten sensitivity or other immunological disorders. The testing performed at this laboratory reveals that there are many proteins and foods that are considered safe for the gluten sensitive but may actually be exacerbating the immune response. This means there may not be gluten antibodies present in the body, but there may be other antibodies for other foods that are causing the same reaction.

18 Gluten Cross Reactive Foods

Cow's Milk



alpha and beta-Casein 




Polish Wheat            


Milk Butyrophilin



American Cheese












This list can be discouraging, especially when many of these foods are used in gluten-free packaged products. But for those who are tired of not feeling well this list can be the answer to your suffering.

The mechanism behind cross reactivity is a bit complicated. But I will try and simplify for you. The immune system recognizes shapes of things it encounters in the body. For someone who is gluten sensitive, the immune system has become sensitive to the "shape" of the gluten molecule. For reasons we may not fully understand, the immune system may mistaken other molecules that have a similar shape and react to that molecule in the same way that it would to another. In the case of gluten sensitivity, molecules with similar shapes to gluten may cause the body to launch the same immune reaction that it does when it encounters gluten.

gluten cross reactivity

This explanation of gluten cross reactivity is not intended to be exhaustive, nor should it be conclusive to your own issues. This is a complicated immunological issue. My intention is to spark awareness of this problem so that those individuals like myself who have Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity but do not fully improve on the common gluten free diet may discover they need to investigate their own body's responses further. 

As of yet I have not taken the cross-reactivity test panel with Cyrex Labs. I plan to do so and will post my results. But just from my own awareness of my body's responses, I suspect I have issues with other grains (especially corn), coffee and dairy. In the meantime I've ascribed to a grain and cow dairy free diet and have found marked improvement. 

If you are a gluten sensitive individual who hasn't improved much on the gluten free diet, or are having continued flare ups of symptoms, you can request your practitioner to order a cross reactivity panel from Cyrex Labs. Or you could do an elimination diet that removes all gluten foods and all common cross reactive foods from the list above. After a few months you could test these foods one at a time with several days in between and look for a reaction. Or you can remain on this diet indefinitely, especially if you have seen acceptable improvement in your symptoms and flare ups.

Keep in mind that Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition. Once the immune system has been triggered and an autoimmune response is evident, other things non-food related can trigger the immune system as well. Some of these include stress, inflammation, acute and chronic infections, environmental toxins and traumas.

To download more information and research about cross reactivity click here.


If you would like more information about gluten cross reactivity, gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease, sign up for a FREE 15 minute consultation.

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Would the cross reactivity panel work on someone like me, who has (sever) reactions to gluten but whose test results for celiac disease come back negative? 
Also, once the body has healed from being glutened, will one be able to ingest those similar shaped molecules again at some point?
Posted @ Tuesday, July 12, 2011 10:21 AM by Heather Jacobsen
Yes, Heather, the cross reactivity panel will help you determine if you are reacting to other foods other than gluten. Cyrex also has a panel that tests you for reactions to all of the constituents in wheat that you could be reacting to. Most lab tests done for gluten sensitivity only test for reactions to alpha-gliadin or the presence of transglutanimase. We now know there are many other parts of the grain that can cause the same problem. 
After healing the gut, some people are able to return to some of these foods. But you really need to heal the gut with a good gut repair protocol.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 12, 2011 12:32 PM by Daniel Sanelli
I have been diagnosed with type 1 refractory coeliac disease
Posted @ Saturday, July 16, 2011 5:37 PM by Dona Sutton
This did happen to me Heather. I had to heal before reintroducing many foods but eventually I was able to. This point that you bring up Daniel is very important and I find it with my clients as well. Keeping a detailed food journal is one of the best ways to put pieces together! Thanks for sharing.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 20, 2011 8:22 AM by Amy Wallace
Daniel, thank you for the helpful information! 
As a vegetarian, I have always incorporated grains into my diet and went gluten free for three months a year ago to rid myself of a rare form of candida. In the process, I was receiving acupuncture, taking many supplements and I not only lost weight but, felt so much better and realized I was gluten intolerant. Since then, I tried reintroducing grains like brown rice and qunioa, millet and corn, to only find that I gained the weight back and, feel tired and bloated most of the time - just like I did when I ate gluten. I'm so appreciative of this additional information as I speculated that I might be having a reaction to the above mentioned grains. I will start the grain elimination process once more with high hopes of improving my health.
Posted @ Thursday, July 21, 2011 7:39 PM by Loretta Vella
The link isn't working. I was thinking rye, barley, and spelt had gluten. Milk (casien) is a given in it's molecular structure. Coffee gives me flare ups as well. What is the structure of the others?
Posted @ Sunday, November 27, 2011 10:48 PM by Heather
what is a good gut repair protocol?
Posted @ Friday, April 13, 2012 12:39 PM by joyce
Joyce, a good gut repair protocol involves a strict elimination diet and the 4 R's of Digestive Health (see BLOG TAG 4R's). 
My Primo Gut Repair Program is based on this functional medicine approach and is clinically proven to heal the gut. Click on COACHING to see the details of the program.
Posted @ Friday, April 13, 2012 12:58 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Hi Daniel, thank you for this fantastic topic. I have a shop where I make everything gluten free, I make my own mix of flour and now maybe I have to change all mi mix! Anyway, when I make my bread I use my sourdough and not yeast. Can I say my bread is yeast free? 
Thank you for your helping. 
Posted @ Monday, May 28, 2012 1:15 AM by Sabine De Vuono
I'm confused why Its taken so long for me to react to these foods. I've been gf for 11 years. Sometimes I react & sometimes I don't but when I do, it's as though I ate a wheat bagel. Awful. I guess it's time for complete elimination of these foods. Thanks for the info and help!
Posted @ Monday, June 04, 2012 8:28 AM by Michele
This list is a bit incomplete The Cyrex lab test is for 24 foods, not 18, and that is after considering that Rye,Barley,Spelt,Polish Wheat are grouped as one food. I have had the test recently. 10 foods showed up as 'Equivocal', which is a grey area between normal and out of range. The other 14 showed up as normal, meaning I can eat them. I would definitely have the test done before eliminating all these foods. I am not eating the 10 that were 'questionable'.
Posted @ Wednesday, June 13, 2012 6:35 PM by Stephen
I had 2 tests run by Cyrex and the majority of the results were inaccurate, as per my own experience. An elimination diet is a lot less costly and more accurate. I would not recommend Cyrex Labs. They also will not provide anyone to talk to after testing, but will keep referring you to your doctor.
Posted @ Sunday, June 17, 2012 6:34 PM by Sandra
Thank you for your comment on my blog. I'm not sure if you understand the Cyrex test. It tests for an IMMUNOLOGICAL response to these foods. You will not necessarily FEEL a response to these foods, but your immune system is reacting. Your immune system should NOT react in this way to these foods. When you say "by my experience these tests are inaccurate" I can see you don't get what they are telling you. It's not necessarily that these foods make you feel bad. But they may be causing your immune system to attack the tissue in your body. You may not feel anything until a significant amount of tissue damage has occurred. I'm sure you don't want to this to happen. This is why it's imperative to avoid those foods for at least some time and then get retested to see if it was just a temporary concern or if you have a permanent issue with those foods. This is why it's important to work with a practitioner that understands these tests so that they can explain this to you. Take care!
Posted @ Monday, June 18, 2012 1:56 PM by Daniel Sanelli
I was diagnosed with Celiac 10 years ago. I have been eating GF and have had improved health ever since. I started seeing a Naturopathic Doctor and she recommended I do the Cyrex array 4 test. It just came back and I am in shock! I supposedly can't eat eggs, rice, whey and potatoes because the results were out of range. Also milk and casein were equivocal. Ugh. I recently ate at an Indian restaurant and got violently ill because the Samosaa they said were GF were not. Could my body heal if I avoid the above foods and then would I be able to eat rice etc.. again? I don't feel bad when I eat rice and potatoes.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 25, 2012 12:03 PM by Cynthia B. Smith
Cynthia, thanks for your question. The Cyrex cross reactivity panel is checking to see what your body is reacting to immunologically. You won't necessarily feel anything when you eat those foods. But they are causing your immune system to react in a way it should not towards those foods right now. I believe if you eliminate those foods for some time and allow your body to fully heal, you may be able to bring some of those foods back. It depends. The best way to tell is to retest at a future time. I hope this helps.
Posted @ Wednesday, July 25, 2012 6:12 PM by Primo Health Coach
Does sprouting the other GF grains (millet, buckwheat, etc...) change the shape so that the body would would not react in this way?
Posted @ Sunday, August 05, 2012 1:22 PM by Lisa
Lisa, no sprouting does not solve the problem. Sprouting is great for releasing nutrients from the grain, but it does not resolve the immune response to the molecule.
Posted @ Sunday, August 05, 2012 2:48 PM by Primo Health Coach
Hello, I have had some gluten reactions and I have broken out in hives. I have eaten gluten before and I have had one other time that I have broken out in hives. I have taken antihistemines and prescriptions. I have eaten a lot of gluten and I have had this reaction only once. Can you please give me some advice?
Posted @ Wednesday, September 05, 2012 10:01 PM by John Vann
I have had the cyrex test and the results show that I can only eat a handful of the foods listed. A few questions on the types of foods tested... I haven't been able to find answers from either Cyrex or my dr. Are the eggs only chicken eggs? Are quail or duck ok? What type of yeast is tested? Is kombucha out, since it the culture has yeast? I am okay with all of the dairy listed except milk butyrophilin. Is that just in cow's milk? Can I have goat milk and cheese? Also, I'm ok with whey - but does that contain milk butyrophilin? What about raw cow's milk that is fermented (yogurt or kefir)? (I tested ok for cow's milk and casein, just not the milk butyrophilin. Thank you so much for your help! This is definitely a challenge!
Posted @ Sunday, January 06, 2013 3:03 PM by Shannon
@shannon, thank you for your question. However, answering your questions is more than I can do on a blog comment. This requires consulting time. If you'd like me to go over your results with you, please schedule a consultation. I would be happy to assist you in deciphering your results. As you can see, this is not easy to do.
Posted @ Monday, January 07, 2013 1:06 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Does anyone know how Cyrex 4 test could show cross reaction to milk butyrophilin but not to cow's milk? I thought cow's milk contained milk butyrophilin so this result doesn't make sense to me.
Posted @ Saturday, June 15, 2013 3:24 PM by DJ
DJ I'm not sure I understand your question. The Cyrex panel 4 tests for reactions to specific molecules. One of those is milk butyrophilin. Should someone react to this molecule then they should avoid cow's milk.
Posted @ Monday, June 17, 2013 10:45 AM by Daniel Sanelli
I've been gluten free for some time, and I'm wanting to take the Cyrex array 4 test, but I've been told I need to eat at least a couple of slices of bread two weeks before getting the test and put some gluten in my system. I'm nervous about that. Once I start eating bread, it's hard to stop until I get depressed, weepy and almost narcoleptically sleepy, which historically takes a couple of weeks. I'm mulling over the pros and cons of introducing gluten into my system and taking the test and would welcome any opinions on that.
Posted @ Sunday, August 11, 2013 8:49 PM by Bridget
Hello Bridget, this is a great question. If you are very sensitive to gluten, I don't recommend going this route. Remember that Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition. It is possible to trigger an autoimmune flare-up that is believed can last up to 6 months after exposure. So my question to you is, if you know you feel much better when off of gluten, why do you need further evidence? The best test for gluten sensitivity is to remove it from the diet. Sounds like you've done that with positive results.
Posted @ Tuesday, August 13, 2013 4:58 PM by Daniel Sanelli
I just purchased some kasha from a bulk food store. It wasn't marked gluten free, but I know kasha is supposed to be gluten free. I'm wondering if washing it really well (for about 3-5 minutes under running water) would remove any possible cross contamination that might have occurred. 
Thank you very much for your reply.
Posted @ Thursday, August 29, 2013 2:18 PM by Linda
Hello Linda, 
I could never answer that question with certainty. It all depends on how sensitive you are. And I've never heard it recommended to wash anything to remove possible gluten cross contamination. I would guess your cereal would be ruined after running under water for that long. Stick to products you are certain are gluten free or make your own from scratch. Good luck!
Posted @ Thursday, August 29, 2013 3:07 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Does anyone know how the Cyrex 4 test could show cross reaction to milk butyrophilin but not to cow's milk? I thought cow's milk contained milk butyrophilin so why wouldn't cow's milk also show up as causing a reaction in the Cyrex 4 test? Milk butyrophilin was the only thing I had a cross reaction to.
Posted @ Tuesday, October 01, 2013 7:39 AM by dj
I just had Cyrex array 4. Milk butyrophilin was positive. I am going to hate giving up the raw goat kefir I have been consuming daily. I wonder if I can still use the kefir grains to ferment coconut milk if I rinse them really well after their recharge time in the goat milk?
Posted @ Wednesday, February 19, 2014 9:43 PM by Anne
my Milk butyrophilin came back highly reactive, but nothing else dairy related. I know it has to do with the fat in milk. Does this mean I can have fat free dairy if I want? 
Also, TEFF came back as well. Still ok to eat quinoa?
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 10:36 AM by KM
you responded to me back last August. I went ahead and did the tests. I re-introduced wheat into my diet for a couple of weeks, and felt awful, mostly because I wanted to do the array 4 cross reactivity test, and my chiropractor said I couldn't do array 4 without array 3. The array 4 tests came back fine, except for a bit of grey area around oatmeal. The confusing part was that my chiropractor told me not to eat rye, though it was fine in the array 4 test, because of gluten sensitivity confirmed by the array 3 test. And even though the array 4 test said dairy was fine for me, I'm not 100% convinced, because I don't always feel good after eating /drinking dairy products. In short, I spent large on the tests to help alleviate confusion, but still feel confused. Thoughts? 
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 2:26 PM by Bridget
Hello Bridget, I would need to see your test results to answer your questions with certainty but this is my first inclination. If you're showing sensitivity you have to avoid wheat, barley and rye because they all contain gliadin. The separate test for rye is looking at other parts of rye that you may be reacting to. Also, please understand that this test is looking at immunoglobulins. It is looking for an immune response to these foods. Just because you feel "bad" after eating a food doesn't mean you're having an IMMUNE response to the food. You may just be lactose intolerant, which this test is NOT looking at. That is a food intolerance which is different from an immune sensitivity. If you don't feel good when you eat dairy, then don't consume dairy. I hope this helps.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 2:34 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Thanks for your swift response, Daniel. Yes, that makes sense. would seem that the usefulness of the tests would be pointing out possible problems with foods a person might feel ok after eating, and for the rest, an elimination diet, as Sandra noted above, provides the guidance on what to avoid, without the cost.
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 2:43 PM by Bridget
Bridget, yes you are correct. It is possible to have a negative immune response to a food that you may not FEEL symptoms towards. But your body is still having a response that could end up in tissue damage that doesn't show up for years. Elimination diets by contrast are good for identifying foods that are causing an obvious reaction that disappears with avoiding that food. Thanks for the helpful remarks!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 2:51 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Thank YOU for the clarification!
Posted @ Wednesday, March 05, 2014 4:13 PM by Bridget
I also had a positive reaction to butyrophilin. Is this protein present in pure milk fat - i.e. ghee? 
Posted @ Monday, March 24, 2014 4:57 PM by Ward
Yes, me too! My Array 4 shows I am sensitive to milk butyrophilin, but not to any of the other dairy-related items. We would simply LOVE to know if we can eat goat cheese? Please say, "Yes!" Thank you.
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 4:29 PM by Jean
Sorry Jean but unfortunately goats milk does also contain butyrophilin.
Posted @ Monday, August 11, 2014 4:44 PM by Daniel Sanelli
I took the Cyrex 4 array and I have been gluten and dairy free for the past few months.. I ate 1 item with gf oats, and accidentally ate some gluten 1 time, but I was avoiding most of these grains. I had been consuming coffee, tapioca, sesame, egg and hemp and all of those came up negative. HOWEVER, amaranth came up as a strong reaction, which is funny because I haven't had any amaranth for probably two years. Is it true that you need to have exposure to tehse things to really test for it? OR does it take a long time for IgA and IgG antibodies to go out of the system?
Posted @ Sunday, September 28, 2014 5:07 PM by Slade
Slade, it's difficult for me to answer that question without knowing your full health history. If you are autoimmune you have to remember that foods are not the only triggers. Stress, infections or environmental contaminants can also foster a reaction. As far as the IgA and IgG testing goes, I believe the test is challenging your blood to look for a reaction. It's not necessarily measuring what is currently flowing through your bloodstream. IgA in general does stay longer in the system.
Posted @ Tuesday, September 30, 2014 12:24 PM by Daniel Sanelli
I just received my Cyrex results and found equivocal sensitivity to butyrophilin (almost positive result 1.78). I'm not clear about what dairy I should avoid. Can I have sheep and buffalo milk/yogurt? 
Is fermented dairy better than non fermemented. SInce the butyrophilin is in the fat molecule, does that mean I could make my own yogurt/kefir with unhomogonised milk and skim off the cream layer. Is it in the cream that the butyrophilin is found? 
Are there any dairy foods out there that are safe for someone with milk butyrophilin sensitivity?  
Many thanks. I'm struggeling with this one.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 15, 2014 8:34 AM by Claire
Claire, that is not an easy question to answer without knowing your full case and health history. Are you working with a professional that ordered these tests? This is really a question for your health practitioner. I would suggest you at least avoid all dairy for some time, maybe 6 months. Then you could try reintroducing different types of dairy to see what your body can manage. However, if you are Celiac or have an autoimmune condition, you may want to avoid at least all bovine (cow) dairy indefinitely. If you would like to further consult with me, please contact us to set up a consultation. Take care of your body!
Posted @ Wednesday, October 15, 2014 1:46 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Thanks for your advice Daniel. 
I don't have any autoimmune diseases (that I know of). No diagnosis. I have an equivocal sensitivity to 3 markers of gluten (cyrex). 2 of the markers are the ones linked to celiac. I was eating limited gluten at time of testing anyway.  
I do like to eat dairy for the fat soluble vitamins and probiotics. I tend to only eat home made fermented raw cow and goat's milk products (kefir, yogurt and sour cream) and I also do eat some cheeses, raw cream, butter and ghee. Perhaps it's good idea to give them up for a while. But if I reintroduce them how would I know if I'm tolerating them without testing again. I never had noticable effects after eating them. My milk butyrophilin sensitivity is equivocal but very nearly positive. And I do eat dairy daily.  
I'm just not clear on which foods have the highest milk butyrophilin in them. e.g. is it the milk or the cream. That's my main question at the moment. As perhaps I could continue eating the dairy with less milk butyrophilin?  
The only other food I tested positive for was eggs! I am hoping that the allergy is towards the white though. Yolks are so nutritious. Do you think it would be safe to still eat yolks? I heard yolk allergy is very rare.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:14 PM by Claire
It sounds to me like you may have a leaky gut. Doing a strict gut repair program for at least 6 weeks may resolve some of the concerns you have with these foods. Eggs are typically an excellent source of bioavailable protein, unless you have a leaky gut. Also, if you have been eating dairy daily for a long time it is common that you would not have any noticeable reactions. By removing the foods from the diet for at least 6 weeks you give your immune system time to "recharge" and it is very possible that your reactions upon reintroduction would be quite noticeable. I recommend a gut repair program like the one I use with my clients - PHC GUT REPAIR PROGRAM. 
I hope this helps!
Posted @ Wednesday, October 15, 2014 2:31 PM by Daniel Sanelli
Thanks for your suggestion Daniel. 
Seems like my 9 months of GAPS a year or 2 ago didn't fully work then. It definately helped (my digestion does seem better, no more indegestion and better bowel movements) but I did a short intro diet and reintroduced eggs and fermented raw dairy after a couple of weeks. I don't want to be doing starch free diet again. I think it can be a bit risky- useful for neurological problems but not everyone. Currently I like to eat the PHD way of Paul Jaminet. 
What is PHC gut repair program. It doesn't come up on google. Would love to know more. Thanks. 
By the way I did have a comprehensive digestive stool analysis which apparently showed good digestion, good amount of digestive enzymes etc.. Just poor amounts (none) of lactobacillus beneficial bacteria- which is why I'm not that keen on giving up yogurt and kefir...... I do have sauerkraut though.
Posted @ Wednesday, October 15, 2014 4:44 PM by Claire
I've had both the array 3 and array 4 Cyrex tests. My question is if in the array 3 testing there are known cross reactive foods, but the array 4 test shows some of these foods within the "normal" range, should these foods still be eliminated from the diet. Specifically: Native & deamidated gliadin 33IgG shows that corn rice and oats are cross reactive, but the array 4 test shows these in the normal range.
Posted @ Sunday, October 26, 2014 3:34 PM by Bart
Hello Bart, I would really need to see the results to clearly answer your question. Are you working with a practitioner? Whomever ordered these tests for you should be able to answer your question. If you want my opinion you can set up an appointment and forward me your tests. Thank you!
Posted @ Sunday, October 26, 2014 10:47 PM by Daniel Sanelli
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