19 Foods That Cross-React With Gluten

These 19 food cross-react with gluten!

Are you following a strict gluten-free lifestyle; yet you still suffer from symptoms related to gluten?

If so, it could be that you are eating foods that do not contain gluten but your body reacts to them as if they do. This process is called cross-reactivity.

There are a number of naturally gluten-free foods such as cheese, chocolate and coffee that contain proteins so similar to gluten that your body confuses them for gluten. When you eat these foods your body and immune system react as if you just ate a bowl of whole-wheat pasta.

It’s estimated that at least half of those who are gluten intolerant are also sensitive to dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk and butter) due to its cross-reactivity with gluten.

crossreact photo

Image credit:


Below is a list of common foods that cross-react with gluten:

• Amaranth
• Buckwheat
• Chocolate
• Coffee
• Corn
• Dairy ie Milk and Cheese (Alpha-Casein, Beta-Casein, Casomorphin, Butyrophilin, Whey Protein)
• Egg
• Hemp
• Millet
• Oats
• Polish wheat
• Potato
• Rice
• Sesame
• Sorghum
• Soy
• Tapioca
• Teff
• Yeast

If you are gluten-intolerant and you are still having health issues even after removing gluten from your diet, try eliminating the above foods for at least two months and see if your symptoms improve. Make sure you have healed your gut as well. Then, after two months you may reintroduce the above foods one at a time to determine which ones you are cross-reacting to, if any at all. Laboratory testing is also available to determine which foods are cross-reactive for you.

If you determine that there are foods that are cross-reactive for you, the treatment is to permanently remove these foods from your diet along with gluten. Remember, that though the cross-reactive foods do not actually contain gluten your body thinks they do and therefore the inflammation and damage to your body is equal to that of gluten.

Photo credit and original article published on MindBodyGreen

  • Sea Maiden

    Interesting article. However, I can’t help but wonder about the “coffee” being listed as containing protein that might cause the body to mistake it for gluten. Perhaps if you are eating coffee beans themselves, you might be ingesting some (small) amount of protein in the roasted bean, but prepared as a filtered beverage i understand that there would be unlikely to enough protein for the body to react to it in that way. Caffeine may be an issue, or other components that would be consumed, that might be difficult to digest for anyone with a sensitive stomach recovering from gluten. But coffee? Although dark, dairy-free chocolate is actually consumed it also would (hopefully) be eaten in such small amounts that it surely would not have a big impact due to protein cross-reactivity. (Chocolate containing dairy or other ingredients that might be cross contaminated would be a separate issue.) I think it far more likely that a grain that would be consumed in large quantity would cause “your body
    and immune system [to] react as if you just ate a bowl of whole-wheat pasta” for individuals sensitive to that particular type of grain. The argument for grain sensitivity seems much more intuitive to me.

    • thanks for the comment. They actually just changed the test at Cyrex to say ‘instant coffee’ – I believe it’s something with the processing!

      • Sea Maiden

        Interesting! I would never drink instant coffee or flavored coffee myself because either could be contaminated with gluten- and also because I think they are both gross!

        As someone with a Seattle hometown I do love my coffee, and am glad that I don’t personally have a negative reaction to it (whatever the reason might be). Don’t ask me about rice, though. *sigh* ;) Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

        • KB Kyst

          If you go back to the original research paper by Dr. Vodjani, it says certain coffees, not all coffees are cross-reactive. It specifically shows that plain, fresh coffee is not cross-reactive. It says that latte, which contains dairy, and instant coffee, which contains gluten is cross-reactive. The only truly cross-reactivity is when a non-gluten food, like dairy causes a reaction. If instant coffee causes a reaction because it is contaminated with hidden gluten, it is reactivity, not cross-reactivity. Either way, diary and gluten should not be consumed. But I find it irresponsible to say that coffee itself is cross-reactive. People may be just plain reactive to coffee because they cannot tolerate it, for separate reasons, not because they react to gluten. There is a difference. Do not pass along clumped together and misinterpreted information, please! This is hard enough to navigate without false information creeping in.

      • Robyn Puglia

        The issue is that instant coffee is cross-contaminated with wheat, not that the coffee protein is a problem.
        Also, the foods on Array 4 are divided into 4 categories, 1 – cross reactive to gluten (eg dairy and sesame), 2- foods over-consumed on a GFD (eg tapioca), 3- newly introduced on a GFD and causing problems as there’s no tolerance (e.g. quinoa) and 4- common allergens (egg and soy). Only cross reactives need to be permanently removed, all the rest may be reintroduced after gut healing has taken place.

  • Carrie

    I react to coffee (not instant, but freshly ground from beans) almost as strongly as I react to gluten. My doctor said it is very common because the proteins are similar. I have read it in multiple places as well. Trust me, it is likely and possible.

    • Sea Maiden

      Not to be gross, but coffee IS a laxative. It is also highly acidic and difficult to digest. Newly diagnosed folks in particular may wish to avoid coffee and there are certainly people who are sensitive to it. I know lots of people who don’t have to avoid gluten and do not drink coffee. However, I still highly doubt that the issue is the protein specifically. *shrug* Our bodies are mysterious things though and I think it is clear that customizing our diets to agree with our particular makeup is important.

    • C-

      This explains why I have had a terrible flareup of all symptoms since I bought a can of organic coffee beans, thinking it was healthier to grind my own coffee. Wow, thanks for mentioning this!!! Come to think of it, my 30-year-plus battle with pain, digestive issues, etc, etc, began when I first started drinking coffee!!! Who cares if it’s protein in it or what is in it, I am telling you that that Carrie is correct that you can cross-react to coffee in a very violent way. I had a similar problem with instant coffee, by the way, several times … both organic and non-organic.

  • Wow, this is really good to know! Some of the cross-reactives we already discovered by experiencing them first-hand. Now we’ll know what else to look for.

    Another cross-reactive that put one of us in the hospital was a plastic used in the drink that prepares people for a colonoscopy – Polyethylene glycol (PEG), brand names: Golytely, Colyte, Nulytely, Trilyte and Halflytely. PEG is also used in many medications, supplements and foods.

  • Nancy Welch

    wow…my diet is mostly the above. I dont’ know what I’d eat if I had to cut all of that out.

  • I react to almost all these foods and I found out by way of the Gluten Cross Reactive Foods test with Cyrex Labs. I really need to get back to eating some of them as it’s been 5 or 6 months off them and I really need to reincorporate somehow. All I eat is sweet potatoes, white meat, fish, veggies and fruits – all organic. Please advise.

  • Jody Hendrix

    This is a very interesting article. I am finding through trial and error that I react to some of these foods. My problem is that blood work continues to show elevated gliadin antibodies even though I eliminated gluten from my diet three years ago; and from my personal care products within the past year. I am going crazy trying to figure out how gluten is sneaking into my body! Would consuming these foods cause this issue with my blood work, even if I don’t have a strong “gluten reaction” to them? My doctor recommended the Cyrex Lab test. Would this show me exactly which foods to avoid, or should I just avoid them all? Do I need to be tested BEFORE I eliminate the foods from my diet, as one should be tested for Celiac before eliminating gluten? Thanks for your input!

  • bbmills

    I started taking Shaklee Vitalizer and Nutriferon to give me more energy about 2 weeks ago, but for some reason it cured my chocolate allergy. I got to enjoy my first chocolate bar in 7 years without migraines, stomach problems and feeling like crap for 3 days afterward. It also fixed my gluten intolerance. I don’t know how but it worked for me. They advertise it just as a vitamin, but I swear, it has changed my life! Find out more at Free membership when u try the Vitalizer + FREE product. Plus money back guarantee. Try it for 1 month. What do u have to lose?

  • tina

    The night shades are big ones! I dont see tomato, eggplant and peppers on there. I cant have potato or tomato without nighttime anxiety attacks.

  • Cynthia Belew

    This information is not in alignment with the study by Vojdani & Tarash (2012). They found cross reactivity with casein, yeast, Caseomorphin, oat, fresh corn, millet , milk chocolate, instant coffee, rixe and whey but NOT with sesame, buckwheat, sorghum, hemp, amaranth, quinoa, tapioca, teff, soy, egg, potato, dark chocolate or pure coffee. That doesn’t mean that some of these foods don’t have OTHER problems, for example even though potato does not cross react with gluten, some people might have nightshade sensitivity.

  • P.O.G.

    The key is not to entirely and permanently avoid these foods. Take it from someone who’s done it (very strictly) without much success.

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