I’ve heard the term “cross-reactivity” (in relation to gluten) thrown around the internet quite often. I never paid much attention to it until now. As a Celiac Disease advocate, I want to make sure I am passing on the most reliable, truthful information. Find the list of “19 cross-reactive foods,” published by Cyrex labs, on the Amy Myers website.
I fear those promoting the idea of cross-reactivity are playing on our fears. Having Celiac Disease can be stressful. It can damage us physically and wreck us emotionally. It can be scary. When we feel ill it can leave us desperate for answers. Sometimes our fears and anxieties can drive us to look for any kind of answers so we will feel better.
I did a Google search on the subject and found lots of blog posts and websites with which I’m not familiar. Therefore, I went to the website of University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, to inquire on their FAQ tab about cross reactivity. They are one of the the most trusted Celiac Disease resources in the country. Here is what their site says –
“There is not yet reliable data about cross-reactivity. As for the alleged possibility that many gluten-free foods or drinks (such as coffee, milk, orange juice, etc.) would trigger symptoms in celiac individuals due to hidden antigens mimicking gluten or cross-reacting with anti-gluten antibodies, it must be clearly stated that this is ALL false information, devoid of any scientific basis, and must be rejected as UNTRUE.” (emphasis mine)
I shared this in a public forum and immediately told how wrong I was. So, like any good researcher, I inquired of other resources. My good friend Erica Dermer of “Celiac and the Beast” attended the International Celiac Disease Symposium in 2013. This is the biggest conference on our disease in the world, with researchers from almost every continent. I asked her, privately, if this issue was addressed at the conference. She very quickly told me that it was discussed and that there is no science to prove it. You can read more about it in her recap, here.
So, I looked further into the issue of cross-reactivity. I wondered if there were any other voices out there also saying this list of 19 foods is not scientifically valid. I came across this article online, admittedly on a blog. The interesting part of this article is that it shares some of the actual research from Cyrex labs. Surprisingly enough, one of the authors of the paper (and research), Aristo Vojdani, made the following comment on the Paleo Movement blog.
“As you actually point out in your blog, nowhere in my actual article do I ever actually claim that foods other than dairy, yeast, corn, oats, millet and rice were positively found to be cross-reactive with alpha-gliadin 33-mer. And to my knowledge, neither has Cyrex. In fact, I just recently applied the same monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies against alpha-gliadin 33-mer to an additional 150 different food antigens, and I can tell you that we found no additional cross-reactivities.”
I realize that this is a sticky, tricky issue. I realize that all of our bodies react differently. We are all at different stages of health and healing. (It is possible to have allergies and intolerances to other foods, on top of Celiac Disease!) I might even lose a few followers from what I have written. However, I always want to make sure that I am a voice of truth and reason. In addition, I also remain open to learning from others. (In a desire to post opposing view points, I share this thorough and well-researched blog post by Adventures of a Gluten Free Mom. )
One thing doesn’t change though. We are a community. We won’t get the rest of society to take us and our disease seriously if we tear each other down. If we want to be respected we need to make sure we educate ourselves with valid and thorough research. Don’t believe everything you see on a blog, even this one.
What other things have you heard about Celiac Disease that you’re curious about? Are there items you’d like me to research further? Leave me a note in the comments, and I’ll do my best to get you some answers.