When I first began to avoid gluten I thought I only needed to watch out for the obvious sources of gluten containing foods like bread, pasta, pizza, baked goods, etc.
I quickly learned that exposure to something as tiny as a crumb could be spotted by my immune system, and hold me back from healing leaky gut, and reversing autoimmunity.
Ingesting even small amounts of gluten, like crumbs from a cutting board or toaster, can trigger small intestine damage. (1)
I always recommend that my clients with Autoimmune Disease avoid all obvious and hidden sources of gluten even if they don’t have Celiac Disease. This is because our immune system is looking for things as small as microscopic bacteria and viruses to defend against, so even crumbs of gluten can be spotted by the immune system.
If you'd like to learn more about the connection between gluten and autoimmunity, and why it's so important to avoid gluten, go here to learn more.
How to Avoid Hidden Sources of Gluten
Read labels. Begin to get familiar with what’s in your home that might contain gluten. It is critical to read the ingredient label of any product you put in or on your body to make sure it’s free of gluten. Refer to the list of hidden sources of gluten below.
Only buy packaged foods labeled “Gluten-free” or “Certified Gluten-free”. The food industry is required to make sure there is less than 20 parts per million of gluten in foods labeled "Gluten-free". Stricter requirements are required for foods labeled "Certified Gluten-free". These foods cannot contain more than 5 parts per million of gluten. However, for some people, this still may be too much.
Beware of Cross-Contamination. When preparing gluten-free foods, it is important to avoid cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when foods or ingredients come into contact with gluten, generally through shared utensils or a shared cooking/storage environment. In order for food to be safe for someone with a gluten-related disorder, it must not come into contact with food containing gluten. Refer to the lists below to learn the common places where gluten cross-contamination can occur.
Common Hidden Sources of Gluten
Gluten helps make things “stick” together. It gives bread that “spongy” texture, and is commonly used in products that need something to bind other ingredients together. Here is a list of common hidden sources of gluten:
Alcohol (made from wheat, barley, rye, etc.)
Beer & lagers
Bread (white & whole grain)
Brown rice syrup
Fried Foods (foods fried in same fryer as gluten containing foods)
Lip gloss & balms
Herbal or nutritional supplements
Lipstick, Lip gloss, Lip balm
Medications (prescription drugs and over-the-counter)
Oats (due to cross contamination)
Vinegar (malt only)
Vital wheat gluten
Vitamins and supplements
* Please note this is only a partial list of the most common hidden sources of gluten.
Places Where Cross-Contamination Can Occur:
Toasters used for both gluten-free and regular bread
Deep fried foods cooked in oil shared with breaded products
Shared containers including improperly washed containers
Condiments such as butter, peanut butter, jam, mustard, and mayonnaise may become contaminated when utensils used on gluten-containing food are double-dipped
Wheat flour can stay airborne for many hours in a bakery (or at home) and contaminate exposed preparation surfaces and utensils or uncovered gluten-free products
Oats – cross-contamination can occur in the field when oats are grown side-by-side with wheat, or in transportation bins. Be sure to select only oats specifically labeled gluten-free
Pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs. Gluten-free and regular pizzas may be made and baked on the same surfaces.
Non-certified baked goods e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
Bulk bins at grocery stores or co-ops
Easily Cross-Contaminated Foods:
Oats – look for oats that are specifically labeled gluten-free
Pizza – pizzerias that offer gluten-free crusts sometimes do not control for cross-contact with their wheat-based doughs
Non-certified baked goods – e.g., “gluten-free” goods from otherwise gluten-containing bakeries
Jaime Ward, INHC, CGP, CBIN provides Functional & Integrative Nutrition Health Coaching for Women with Autoimmunity.
Jaime is Board Certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, Certified in BioIndividual Nutrition, a Certified Gluten Practitioner, and currently pursuing a Master of Science degree in Nutrition with a focus on Functional Medicine from The University of Bridgeport.
Jaime is also a speaker, a writer, a busy mom, and a Celiac Survivor. Jaime coaches with a Christian heart filled with lots of love, support and compassion.
For more information about how Jaime can help you, click here.