Is Coffee Safe on a Gluten Free Diet

Just read an interesting article by Dr. Osborne on the Gluten Free Society website that is definitely worth a read!  Below is a summary, but for the full article, please visit their wonderful website.

If you’ve been eating gluten-free and are still experiencing gluten-related symptoms, the problem may be your coffee intake…maybe.

There are several foods that cause what’s called a gluten cross-reactivity in those who are sensitive to or intolerant of gluten. This is because the proteins in these foods are perceived by the body as invaders in the same way gluten is.

Dairy is the most common cross-reactive food to those with gluten issues, because of its casein proteins. But coffee also contains problematic proteins and the cross reaction to coffee has actually been found to be one of the most severe.

In 2013, Aristo Vojdani and Igal Tarash published a study in Food and Nutritional Sciences that examined the cross-reactivity of coffee. What the researchers found was that highly-processed coffees, such as instant coffee and popular ground coffees, produced the most cross-reactivity in test subjects.

What researchers believe is that the processing itself contributes to the problem, since organic, whole-bean coffees did not produce cross-reactivity issues. While more research is needed, it’s thought that the proteins in coffee are changed in such a way during processing that the body perceives them as a threat, which causes the same inflammatory responses and symptoms as gluten in those that are sensitive or allergic to it.  We see this same type of problem with dairy.  The processing of the dairy changes the dairy protein and creates a gluten like reaction.

How to Know if Coffee is a Problem and What to Do About It

If you know your diet is gluten-free and you’ve eliminated any hidden gluten such as vitamins whose coatings contain gluten, try going without coffee for a full week. Yes, this can be hard to do if you’re dependent on caffeine to get you through your day, but you can still have your caffeine, but for this trial week, you’ll need to get it from black or green tea. Try subbing hot tea in the morning and iced tea in the afternoons if you usually have an afternoon coffee.

Once the antigen load in your body has been significantly reduced (after a week without coffee), try having just one cup in the morning, but make it an organic, whole-bean coffee. If your symptoms diminished or went away entirely after a few days without coffee and your one cup of whole-bean coffee doesn’t produce any symptoms, then it may be safe to say that you can go back to your normal coffee intake.

For the full article, please visit the Gluten Free Society website.