Foods that React Like Gluten - Cross Reactivity | Gluten Free Recipe Box

Dr. Vikki Petersen of HealthNOW Medical CenterThe ‘Gluten’ Found in Coffee and Chocolate

By Dr. Vikki Petersen

Research tells us that only eight percent of those adult patients suffering with celiac disease experience complete healing of their gut despite maintaining a strict gluten-free diet. Sixty-five percent feel better, but only a fraction (8%) enjoy complete healing.

This is significant because too many patients suffering from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity do not enjoy the good health they deserve. Instead they suffer a variety of symptoms and many develop serious autoimmune diseases.

Such autoimmune diseases could potentially be prevented if the individuals’ gut lesions and leaky gut had been remedied.

I want to discuss a tool that we use here at the clinic to help isolate any dietary components that could be ‘confusing’ the immune system of a gluten intolerant patient to react as if gluten was being consumed. I often have patients tell me that they feel ‘glutened’ despite the lack of gluten consumption.

How can this occur? Cross reactivity is a process whereby the body consumes a protein (e.g. milk) that has similarities to the protein gluten. Due to this similarity (known as molecular mimicry) the body’s immune system reacts to this food as if it were gluten, creating symptoms that the patient attributes to gluten consumption.

Is milk gluten? No. But if cross-reactivity is occurring, if may as well be as far as the patient’s immune system is concerned. In other words, ingestion of these cross-reactive foods can irritate and inflame the immune system in much the same way as if gluten was being ingested.

Therefore in patients who are not feeling optimal despite maintaining a gluten-free diet, or continue to have a leaky gut or autoimmune disease, testing for cross-reactive foods can be a great diagnostic tool.

The test is a blood test offered by Cyrex Labs and includes the following foods:

Cow’s milk


American cheese
















Once the test returns it will reveal what, if any, foods are causing a reaction. The protocol is to remove these foods from the diet for three months and then reintroduce them slowly, one at a time, to determine any negative reactions.

The idea is that during the three months ‘off’ from these foods, the body’s immune system will get a chance to repair and, along with other measures taken by a savvy clinician, will go far towards repairing any leaky gut.

Some patients find that they are able to reintroduce several foods successfully, but there is often something they find that just isn’t their ‘friend’ and permanent avoidance is required. Dairy is extremely common, but there are others too.

I’m not trying to depress anyone regarding further dietary restrictions. Being gluten intolerant myself, I very much understand the discipline that is required. But if a cross-reactive food(s) is the culprit underlying a lack of healing and putting one at risk for other diseases, it certainly is important to find out.

I hope this was helpful and please do let me know any questions that you have or if you would like assistance to improve your health. That’s why I’m here!

Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. If you don’t live locally it’s not a problem. You can call for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Book: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”


  1. Reply Drusilla

    What blood test is it just one and what is the name of the test? I live in Kansas I will have to tell my doctor what test to do by name to have it done.

  2. Reply Gluten Free Recipes

    An email from a reader:

    What else can be eaten as a carbohydrate if all gluten and non-gluten grains or grain types should be avoided in a celiac diet? How can this hole in nutrients be made up?
    Thank you.”

    My response,

    “I’m not sure if your read both articles on my blog regarding cross-reactivity, but here is the other:

    “Not everyone is intolerant to all the grains listed in the cross-reactivity list above. The best thing to do is get tested if you suspect sensitivities to these grains. There are many other gluten free flours not listed above that may be used including teff flour (actually a seed, not a grain). Find many more at”

    I hope this helps.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>