The Gluten Free Diet: Why it Might Not be Helping You

I have lost count of the number of clients at Ottawa Holistic Wellness that I have advised to go on a gluten free diet because I determined it would help their symptoms.

For the vast majority, it was a positive experience. Their long-term chronic symptoms disappeared. For the minority, the effort was not rewarded even though they had been 100 per cent gluten free.

Gluten free diet Why it might not be working Image 3For a number of years this had been a puzzle to me, until I was listening to a podcast in my car on the way to work. The podcast was an interview with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, an internationally renowned expert on coeliac disease and gluten sensitivity. He talked about a brand new set of blood tests now available which look at gluten sensitivity. The test that interested me the most was for Gluten Cross Reactivity (GCR).

To understand what GCR is, you have to understand how the body normally reacts to gluten

When your body gets sensitive to gluten, it produces antibodies, which are like little Arnold Terminators zapping invading gluten proteins in your blood. Unfortunately sometimes Arnold gets confused between the gluten proteins and similar proteins in your body and starts zapping all of them.

GCR occurs when Arnold starts thinking the proteins from other foods are gluten proteins. The body produces more gluten antibodies to zap those other proteins, but which will also continue to attack your body. So you may as well be eating gluten and it is no wonder your symptoms don’t change.

Gluten free diet Why it might not be working Image 2The GCR test, available through Cyrex Labs in the U.S., tests the most common foods that cross-react to wheat gluten.

This include: cows milk, casein, whey protein, soya, milk chocolate, instant coffee, yeast, oats, sesame, buckwheat, hemp seed, millet, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca, teff, corn and rice.

As I mentioned, these are only the most common and many foods have not been researched as yet. However, if you have had no change in your symptoms on a traditional gluten free diet and you eat some of the above, it would be worth getting tested or to try avoiding them all and seeing if there is any benefit.


I hope you found this information useful. More importantly, I hope you do something with it.

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.