Monday, January 26, 2015

When Gluten Free Isn't Enough (Part 1)

Perhaps you've been running this race for your own personal healthy journey for a while. Like many you've discovered that if you have any food intolerances, immune disorders, or have had chronic gut health disturbances then chances are if you haven't gone gluten free already, that either someone has told you to do so, or you are in the process of thinking about it or slowly getting yourself there. First things first, that's awesome, great job, and please know that I am proud of you! It is a wonderful first step towards wellness. Gluten must absolutely be removed from your lifestyle.

Removing gluten is not the be all end all to getting well though. Often times in many cases it is simply not enough. There is not a standard one size fits all elimination diet. There are many factors that enter into our bodies rejecting certain foods. It takes time, often quite a few tests, and trial and error to really be sure what each individual needs.

Keep in mind there is hope. This is not the end of the world. Once your gut begins to heal, there's a huge opportunity to put healthy, real versions of those foods you removed that were junky back in. A lot of food intolerances go away after the body returns to a healthy state. The key here is thankfulness. Be thankful that God allowed your body to get to a place that you probably never thought it could again, and keep up the lifestyle. Don't return only to become sick again. This is not a band-aid, this is what a cure feels like.

There are other foods that can cause gut and immune health disturbances. Certain foods fit into certain categories. Today I will cover cross reactive foods. These are foods, that while don't contain gluten, can make the body feel as though it has been attacked by a glutinous based food.

Cross Reactive Foods:


A staple in many countries, corn is an inexpensive, easily accessibly, and good tasting grain. Due to its lack of gluten it is used in many gluten free mixes, crackers, cakes, and dishes. 

Corn, however, is one of the three top genetically modified organisms or foods (GMOS) in the world. Purchasing corn as USDA organic fortunately significantly lessens the possibility of it being a GMO as well as eliminating pesticides. Eating GMO corn can be detrimental to your gut health. GMO corn or otherwise known as Bt corn is developed with a bacterial organism called Bacillus thuringiensis. This was done to resist insects. When we eat this corn the bacteria mutates inside of our gut, goes into our blood stream, and starts to break down our immune systems. To learn more, read here.

You can avoid GMO corn by purchasing USDA organic. Yet, even as organic it is also extremely difficult for the body to break down and digest. The body has to work extremely hard to rid itself of the hard fiber. Eating corn on a regular basis, especially consuming a lot if you are consuming a gluten-free diet, can wear down the digestive system. 

While many consider corn to be a vegetable, it is not. It is a starchy grain that when body does break down what it can it is processed as high amounts of sugar. Too much sugar is a danger zone to the body. Sugar causes inflammation and feeds disease.

Corn is hidden in many products, especially natural supplements. If you find corn makes you breakout, lethargic, or cause stomach pain, be diligent to do a search as to what other products are produced with corn.

The best way to eat corn if possible is sprouted. When the corn is sprouted it makes it much easier to be processed in the body as well as to access any nutrients present. If you are experiencing gut health distress, it is best avoided sprouted or not.


There are so many different varieties of rice. This grain populates Asian and Latin cultures. Rice is the main staple of many homes in the US as well. 

The skinny on rice is if you purchase white rice, it is basically pure starch without a whole lot of nutrition. That means a lot of sugar is going into the body, and if there is a bacterial imbalance like candida overgrowth present, the condition is just being fed. 

Brown rice has significantly more nutrition, however it's extremely difficult to access due to the bran. It's ironic, the nutrients are in the bran, but our bodies don't possess enough phytase to break the bran down to access the vitamins and minerals. This are chemicals in the bran called phytates that cause our bodies to stop absorbing minerals. Once our bodies stop absorbing minerals we become malnourished. Other foods with high amounts of phytates are nuts and beans.

If you'd like to keep rice in your diet, one way to make it more nutritious to break down a lot of the phytates is to soak it. The Weston A. Price Foundation suggests milling and soaking with a starter culture. For those of us on restricted time, read below (similar to how I prepare gluten free oats).

How to Soak Rice:

Get a 1/2 gallon mason jar. Put 2 cups of rice inside.  Pour hot filtered water over the rice, just to cover it. Add one tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. Soak for 7-8 hours. Rinse off the rice after soaking. Cook in homemade bone broth for extra nutrients and add a little bit of good fat like grass fed butter.

I would also suggest consuming a high quality digestive enzyme with phytase with your meal.


Oats for me are such a comfort food. I adore both traditional rolled and steel cut. Oats have a ton of fiber, which helps the body stay regular and clean out the colon. Never eat quick oats. They are a processed food and serve no nutritional purpose. Besides it doesn't take any longer to cook traditional oats in comparison to quick oats. So kick out the quick oats!

Unfortunately, they can also wreak havoc in my body. I've noticed that when I eat oats more than once a week I become overly lethargic. More research is being done on whether it is wise to include oats as part of a gluten free diet if they can affect certain people the same way that gluten does or in other ways that seem to wear down the body. Specifically adults and children with confirmed Celiac Disease are cautioned to consider leaving oats out of their dietary regimen according to a government study here. If you notice the continuation of chronic foul gas, bleeding gums, teeth enamel problems, blood or mucus in the stool, or indigestion, then it is advised to eliminate them from your plate.

When I removed the oats I did notice that I didn't experience that overwhelming lethargic state. I really enjoy the taste and texture of them though. Oats are in the same camp as rice with high amounts of phytic acid. Due to the lack of minerals being absorbed this can absolutely tear down the immune system and cause lethargy in the body. It was when I learned how to prepare oats properly that all the difference was made. Preparing oats in a traditional fashion of soaking, much like rice, allows for much better digestion, and use of minerals in the oats.

How to Soak Oats (1 person serving):

Get a 32oz mason jar. Put 1 cup of traditional rolled oats inside.  Pour 1 cup of filtered water over the oats in the jar. Add one tablespoon of Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar. Soak for 7-8 hours on the counter. Rinse off the oats after soaking. Cook in fresh water as usual. In the serving bowl add a little bit of good fat like grass fed butter or my favorite organic unrefined coconut oil to encourage even better digestion.

It is always a good idea to take an enzyme supplement as mentioned early with your meal. 

At the End of the Day

If all of your gut health or immune system troubles don't seem to have fully dissipated after removing gluten, and you are still consuming grains, consider keeping a food journal. After eating these foods at meal and snack times, write down the time of day when you ate it, what you ate in it or what it was with, and how much of it you ate. 

Try removing these foods for 2-4 weeks. Make a section in the journal record for your cross-reactive free food meal trial period. Make a note of each of your meals and snacks as well as how they made you feel. 

Introduce one of these foods back each week after the trial period. Pay special attention to how you feel when you eat, and write it down. Take this journal to a doctor, nutritionist, or health coach for help if any is needed in designing a safe meal plan for you.

(There are some affiliate links in the article. You never have to purchase from these links. If you choose to do so though, you are blessing my business by contributing a small percentage.)

Be healthy and blessed! Helping you to be a good steward of your health!~Marie A. Ligorria, HHC

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