Keep Getting Glutened? Gluten Might Not be to Blame

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keep getting glutenedDo you feel like you keep getting glutened all the time? Perhaps the symptoms of getting glutened come on suddenly and without warning because you didn’t eat anything that was a serious red flag. Or maybe you had a product that was certified gluten-free and yet you still feel sick.

“The product must be contaminated,” you think even though it’s got a gluten-free label.

“The restaurant must of been sloppy with food prep or lied to me that their food was safe,” you reason.

Now, I don’t say any of this to make anyone feel bad because this exact thing used to happen to me all the time in my early years of eating gluten-free.  I couldn’t pinpoint what was making me sick and naturally assumed that something I ate must have been contaminated.  I’d get mad and depressed, but nothing made me feel better until the symptoms passed and I eventually decided to give food products or restaurants a try again.

Why You Feel Like You Keep Getting Glutened

There are a few reasons why people continue to feel like they keep getting glutened.

First, you could actually be getting glutened by eating products not marked gluten-free.  Just because you don’t see gluten in the ingredients or you heard on the internet (or through a friend) that a product was safe, no label means no eating, period.  Learn what gluten-free certification labels to look for here.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t contact the company and let them know that you may have become sick because you should.  If the company is certified gluten-free, they will be able to review their records and see if there was a potential issue.  I will strongly urge you to avoid being rude and confrontational accusing the company of intentionally making you ill.  No company wants it’s customers sick.  Work with them and avoid placing accusatory comments online before you’ve fully determined what happened.

Second, you could have a parasite.  I struggled with unexplainable digestive problems despite being very strict on my gluten-free diet during my first year and eventually had to seek help.  No amount of food journaling could explain what was going on.  Turns out I’d picked up a parasite while traveling in Central America. Whether you’ve traveled internationally or not, it’s pretty easy to pick up a parasite in your own home.  Here’s more info on what you need to know about parasites.

Lastly, but not nearly as obvious, you may have become sensitive to other food proteins and are being fooled by the symptoms into thinking you’ve consumed gluten.  It’s quite a common mistake for people sensitive to gluten or diagnosed with celiac disease to assume that gluten must be the lone problem.  Or that they can’t develop any more food issues beyond gluten even after going gluten-free.  Those two notions unfortunately leave people sick scratching their heads and completely puzzled.

But it’s not Gluten?!?!

Amy Myers, MD, a functional medicine doctor based in Austin, TX, frequently hears the complaint that those sensitive to gluten keep getting glutened.  The reason is that gluten isn’t the only culprit anymore because their gut has become leaky.

Dr. Myers and I sat down to talk about this issue called “Leaky Gut Syndrome” last year and sadly so few realize that gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are red flags for this condition.

“Gluten likely causes Leaky Gut Syndrome and then allows other proteins to slip into your body,” states Dr. Myers. “Unless you’ve clean up your gut after kicking gluten, it’s highly likely that untreated Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to more sensitivities.  These other sensitivities may also go away once the gut is healed.”

Proteins from foods like eggs, dairy, beef, chicken, and nuts could end up becoming new sensitivities if the gut issue isn’t addressed.  I’ve even had clients who were sensitive to something as benign as asparagus!  If you’re one of the many out there who feels like you’re reacting to an increasing number of foods, then this information should be a wake up call to start addressing the gut.

Dr. Myers also points out another issue called cross reactivity where the proteins of other foods like casein or corn look a heck of a lot like gluten.  Your body gets confused and believes mistakenly that it’s come across gluten. This also underscores why healing up the gut is so important.

Bottom Line…

1) If you’re sensitive to gluten, you could definitely be sensitive to other foods.

2) You can develop more food sensitivities even though you eat gluten-free.

3) You’ve got to heal your gut.

Remember, it’s simply not enough to just eat gluten-free.  Underlying issues won’t resolve until you make a point to address them.  But know that healing up your gut will truly make a big difference in how you feel overall and could potentially reduce how reactive you are to food.

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Comments

  1. Dianne says

    I’m wondering about pet food that has gluten. My dog food is gluten free, but the cat food isn’t. And what about the hay I feed my horse?

  2. Hilda Attungana says

    Thank you so much for this information! I seriously thinking i was going crazy! I started my gluten free life end of May, first part of June. My whole life I always been allergic to something; so that was nothing new to me. Since being gluten free; I have notice that I am more allergic to other food; which makes me have limited amount of food to eat. I developed allergy to beef and chicken! Which was news to me when i seen the allergist.

    Thanks again for your article; makes sense to me. I was in pain for 4 years before and I know it will take time for my gut to heal.

  3. Marge says

    Good article except one very important thing that this doctor left out that can cause multiple problems resembling gluten poisoning – that is CORN! I had so many health issues and thought I was getting “glutened” when I was so careful to stay clear of anything that had glutens in it. It turned out that corn was the culprit. And, unfortunately, most GF packaged and restaurant foods have some corn products in them.

    I know that MANY GF patients have this same problem so I don’t know why or how this was overlooked in this article but it does need to be addressed.

    • says

      Actually Marge, it’s not. It is lumped in within the area where I talk all about developing other sensitivities to proteins outside of gluten (which could be anything including corn).

  4. says

    Great information. It’s important to be your own warrior and know what’s in the food you’re eating. Contacting a food company if you feel ill after eating a product is a great idea. The more informed you are, the more powerful you become. It’s really important to keep your good gut bacteria balanced as well, replenishing it with whole and fermented foods.

    • says

      Hi Red, there are several links within this post that talk about how to “clean up your gut”. Generally a protocol of diet, supplements and lifestyle changes is involved. It’s best to seek help from a practitioner who is knowledgable on leaky gut.

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