Foods that Reacts Like Gluten – Cross Reactivity

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!”

20 Replies to “Foods that Reacts Like Gluten – Cross Reactivity”

  1. 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. 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.


  3. I have had a similar reaction lately to coffee. Been off of gluten for months, yet I was feeling “glutened” after going to the coffee shop and having coffee with half and half one day, and using soy another time. I don’t ever have dairy besides yogurt outside of that (GAPS diet, which is supposed to heal leaky gut). So I will look into trying this test to find out.

    1. Hi Rachael,

      The Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity Test (see for all foods tested). Because there are so many foods tested, I would presume that avoidance of these foods are not required. I reviewed the FAQs page ( on Cyrex Lab’s website, but that question is not addressed. They state that instructions are included in each test box. You can contact Dr. Vikki Petersen’s office above or visit the HealthNOW Medical website (linked above) to ask your question.

      Let us all know how your tests turned out when you get the results!


  4. What is the rationale for coffee/chocolate sensitivity? I know that I am also lactose intolerant and recently began a gluten free/vegan diet but what is the test for c/c? I am interested in getting this done too. thanks

    1. Hi Felicia,

      Great question. Contact Dr. Vikki Petersen through her website ( or at her phone number above for a free health analysis or with any questions. Let us all know if you get the test and how your results turn out. You can learn more about the test at Look for the “Gluten-Associated Cross-Reactive Foods and Foods Sensitivity” test.


  5. thank you so much for this info we need more info on the web for gluten dairy, wheat free etc products. my daughter has been gluten free for 10 yrs now she cant eat cheese or milk products it has been very hard at times but learning how to adapt thank you for sites like this

  6. My daughter has been gluten-free since she was 8 months (she’s turning 4 next month!). She’s never tested positive choir dairy BUT I have always suspected it. This may be the answer

  7. I stopped drinking coffee & caffinated beverages and chocolate (stareted with an illness & Lent…). I feel so much better!

  8. I stopped drinking coffee, consuming caffeine and chocolate (started with an illness & concidentally Lent…) – I feel so much better!

    1. Well, it sounds like it’s not always a permanent thing, but I understand how you feel! I have several food allergies, ad it’s ever bee easy, but gets easier as time goes by, and yo gain more experience. Let us all know how it goes!

  9. This imformation is very helpful. I am going look into doing this test. Thank You very much. Jim bindon- Have a nice weekend

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