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Jane Anderson

How Sensitive To Gluten Are You?

By January 20, 2012

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Gluten sensitivity represents a spectrum: On one side you have those with silent celiac disease, who don't get symptoms even when they eat obvious gluten, and on the other side, you have the most sensitive, who must avoid virtually all processed foods (or suffer).

Those of you who are regular readers know I'm pretty sensitive to gluten -- for example, I very rarely eat grains because the gluten cross-contamination in them (however minute) gets me every time. But I'm far from the most sensitive person I know, either.

To help you figure out where you fall on the sensitivity spectrum, I've analyzed the various studies available and detailed the amounts that affect different people for this article: How Much Gluten Can Make Me Sick? The bottom line is, people react to very different amounts of gluten, ranging from a huge amount to a truly microscopic amount.

How sensitive to gluten cross-contamination are you? Take the poll below.

Keep up with the latest in the celiac/gluten intolerant world -- sign up for my newsletter, connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter - @AboutGlutenFree.

January 23, 2012 at 9:19 pm
(1) Joy at The Liberated Kitchen says:

My 11 year old son is very sensitive to gluten cross contamination. The slightest amount and he gets joint pains and extreme brain fog and dyslexia. His stomach aches and anxiety come back, too. You can hear him talking about it on the radio show he did on our local station’s youth collective.

After a year gluten-free (most of it on the GAPS diet), I decided to do a gluten challenge so that I could get tested for celiac disease. Unfortunately it came to a crashing end after two months instead of the three I’d hoped for. My symptoms didn’t start up right away, but after a few days I was pretty miserable! I chronicled the experience on my blog for all to see.

I’ll be getting my celiac blood work this week – but regardless of how it comes out, it’s back on GAPS (a whole foods, probiotic, grain-free way of eating) for me!!!

January 24, 2012 at 4:12 am
(2) Sierra says:

I know that gluten sensitivity varies, but I also wonder about how much is actually from cross-contamination and how much is from cross-reactivity to other foods? There is a list of about 16 foods that contain proteins with similar enough structures that they can “fool” the body and trigger the same reaction- basically if you eat a food that you cross react to, your body thinks that you’ve eaten gluten.

Also, all grains are very hard on the body and the gut, especially if the gut has had prior injury from gluten, so it may not actually be cross-contamination. Like the first commenter, my family has done the GAPS diet and it has brought SO much more relief than simply being GF. We can now eat some grains, even gluten, with no obvious reaction (one son used to have autism and be EXTREMELY sensitive). We will never go back to eating any grain regularly.

January 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm
(3) celiacdisease says:

@Sierra — There’s no doubt that it’s possible to have a reaction to foods other than gluten — cow’s milk, for example, can cause many different symptoms, and corn (in its current form especially) is particularly allergenic. But I have to tell you that I’ve reviewed the medical literature on “cross-reactive” foods mimicking gluten in your body, and there’s just no good scientific backing for the concept. If you’re getting a reaction that feels like your gluten reaction, the odds are good that you’re reacting to trace gluten in your diet … not to some food that’s “mimicking” gluten. I explain more on this in my post Are Cross-Reactive Foods The Reason You’re Not Healing Gluten-Free?. By the way, I followed the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (similar to the GAPS diet) for a long time, and did very well on it — I think it’s a very healing diet, and I think it’s terrific that you and your family have seen such good results from GAPS. Jane A.

March 1, 2013 at 7:44 pm
(4) Terri says:

I am so sensitive that I only eat food that does not list any gluten ingredients and lists that it is manufactured in a gluten free facility. I stick mainly with whole foods. I avoid eating out and eating at friends homes.
I don’t like the symptoms of celiac and I don’t want to do more damage to my body. Why doesn’t the FDA understand the seriousness of having celiac and getting gluten. Even the people that say they are not that sensitive, are they doing damage even though they are not having symptoms.

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