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Is Gluten-Free for Me?

November 1, 2018

“Gluten-free” seems to be all the rage these days,  but it is more than just a fad. Gluten sensitivity – not to be confused with celiac disease – is a real concern for many. Gluten is the protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. For some people digesting this protein is no problem at all. For others it can be a challenge. Did you know that unless your oats are designated as Gluten Free that they also harbor a small amount of gluten?

It’s interesting that gluten intolerance appears to be on the rise. Whether it be from modern farming practices, wheat changes, pesticides, or environmental changes, the reality is that gluten sensitivity affects more people now than it has in years past.

Some people are very sensitive to gluten but may not even realize it. Could you be one of them? Here is a five minute video to educate you on the effects of gluten and its corresponding sensitivities.


Here are 10 warning signs that you need to dig a little further into the gluten mystery:

  • Digestive sluggishness
  • Eczema and keratosis pilaris
  • Difficulty concentrating (especially after eating)
  • Autoimmune Diseases such as: Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Asthma, Hashimoto’s, Lupus
  • Migraines
  • Infertility
  • Chronic fatigue or Fibromyalgia
  • Joint Pain
  • Mood Swings
  • Bloating after eating breads/grains

How Do You Know If You Have a Gluten Sensitivity?

If you experience any of the above, keep a food journal for 30 days and experiment with an elimination diet. Remove gluten for at least two weeks (longer if possible), then slowly re-introduce it. If you find that your symptoms decreased when you were off gluten but re-appear when gluten is added back, you know you have a sensitivity.

According to Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, an ND on staff at Institute of Functional Medicine, “if you have Celiac Disease, or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), but are still having villi damage or residual symptoms, you may still be getting gluten exposure from hidden sources, including non-dietary sources.”

This comprehensive list will help you identify potential triggers that you might not have considered.

Common foods you probably already know contain gluten:

Oats (if not specifically gluten free)Rye
Wheat Germ

Common foods that may contain hidden gluten:

Artificial ColorBaking PowderBarley Extract or LipidsBrown Rice Syrup
Caramel Color/Flavoring (frequently made from barley)Citric Acid (can be fermented from wheat, corn, molasses, or beets)ColoringDextrins (primarily corn and potato, but can come from wheat, rice, tapioca)
DiglyceridesEmulsifiersEnzymesFermented Grain Extract
Fat ReplacersFlavoringsFood StarchGelatinized Starch
Glucose SyrupGlyceridesHydrolysateHydrolyzed Malt Extract
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour or ProteinHydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP)Hydrolyzed Soy ProteinHydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
Malt ExtractMaltodextrin (corn, wheat, potato, rice)Mustard Powder (some contain gluten)Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
Modified Food Starch (source is either corn or wheat)Natural JuicesNatural Flavoring/FillersPeptide Bonded Glutamine (hydrolyzed wheat gluten)
Rice Malt (contains barley or Koji)Rice SyrupSulfonateStabilizers
StarchTriticum Aestivum (common in wheat bread)Wheat StarchWhey Protein Concentrate
Whey Sodium CaseinateWhite Vinegar or White Grain VinegarYeast Extract

Some people may be sensitive enough that even non-food gluten containing substances can cause an issue. Below is a list of common ingredients that may contain gluten.

Non-food items that may contain gluten:

Dental SealantsDental PlasticsGlue On Stamps and EnvelopesHairspray
Laundry DetergentLip BalmsLotionsMakeup
SoapSunscreensToothpasteLow-Quality Vitamins and Supplements

Non-food item ingredients that may contain gluten:

Amino Peptide Complex (from barley)Avena sativa (oat starch, extract, flour, or oil)Barley (extract, lipids)Beta glucan (from oats)
Cocodimonium Hydroxypropyl HydrolyzedDextrinFermented Grain ExtractHordeum Distichon (barley extract)
Hordeum Vulgare (barley extract)Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein (HWP) also seen as wheat hydrolysate, enzyme-modified gluten or wheat peptidesPhytosphingosine extract (fermented yeast)Pregelatinized Starch (corn, wheat, potato, tapioca)
Secale Cereale (Rye)Sodium Lauroyl Oat Amino AcidSodium Starch Glycolate (commonly potato, but has other starch sources)Stearidimoium (hydrolyzed wheat protein)
Trticum Vulgare (wheat germ oil)Tocopherol/Vitamin EWheat Germ (extracts, glycerides, oil, protein)Xanthan Gum (may be derived from wheat)
Yeast Extract


What if you’ve tried that already?

When you are gluten sensitive your body is creating antibodies against gluten.  Those same antibodies can also recognize proteins in other foods that have similar structures and mimic the reaction they have to gluten.  Which non-gluten foods you may react to will depend on the antibodies your body has formed against gluten.  Here is a list that can mimic gluten reactions:

HempTeffSoyMilk (Alpha-Casein, Beta Casein, Casomorphin, Butyrophilin, Whey Protein, and Whole Milk)
ChocolateYeastCoffee (instant, latte, espresso, imported)Sesame
Tapioca (a.k.a. cassava or yuca)Eggs

Due to the cross-reactivity gluten has with many other foods, it can be difficult to pinpoint the underlying cause of some of the issues that ail you.  The team at Well Life Family Medical highly recommends a structured elimination diet overseen by our onsite nutritionists to tease out trigger foods. Food can either be your best medicine or your slowest poison.

A person can have a true allergy to a food, an intolerance, or sensitivity. There are people with sulfite, histamine, salicylate, nightshade sensitivity, and the list goes on!  All of these can cause a reaction in your body, and sometimes the combination of trigger foods can cause a reaction. If you would like to spend some more time researching gluten and cross reactivity here is a reliable site loaded with sources!


What Can Well Life Family Medicine do to Help Me?

At Well Life we employ several modalities to help patients uncover food reactivities.

  • True allergy testing
  • Food sensitivity testing
  • Structured elimination diet protocols
  • GI Effects Stool testing to check digestion

If you would like help teasing through the madness to find out if you are gluten sensitive (or sensitive to dairy, soy, corn, etc) then set up an appointment with Well Life Family Medicine today!

Contributed by:

Jessica Sutterfield


Real Results! is considered a “fitness rehab” program! Jessica’s goal is to teach each client how to tackle nutrition and fitness on their own. That way after they’ve met their goals they can continue sufficiently on their own without going back to those previous bad habits. Of course some clients stay with Jessica indefinitely because they like the motivation and accountability.

Jessica has a B.S., MEd, and is a certified Metabolic Efficiency Specialist. She is certified by the International Association of Health Coaches, and has completed a fellowship program with the renowned Institute of Integrative Nutrition.


Through her own health journey, the countless clients she has worked with, and the intensive hours of education she has in this field Jessica has come to understand that Bio-Individuality should be the primary focus for each client relationship. What does that mean? It means that you are genetically and emotionally unique so why would a cookie cutter workout or diet work for you just because it worked for someone else?

Jessica takes pride and care in developing personal, positive relationships with each client on her schedule. You are more than just a face with Jessica!

“It is my honor as a fitness and wellness coach to support the Whole Person.  When we acknowledge the role of  nutrition, implement stress reducers, and deconstruct cravings we provide the support the physical body requires so that positive health changes can occur.”    
–Jessica Sutterfield

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