Some people with celiac disease don’t seem to heal on a gluten-free diet. In the past, a good percentage of these individuals may have been diagnosed as having refractory celiac disease.
We now know why many of these people weren’t healing. Recent research found that many gluten-free grains were still cross-contaminated with gluten. For these people the best path to a better life involves 3 to 6 months of the strict and effective Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet.
Please note: This is not a commercial diet or a fad diet. This diet was developed by doctors and medical researchers specifically to address Non-Responsive Celiac Disease (NRCD). It is more like a medical prescription for a specific condition.
Table of contents:
- Origins of the Diet
- Table Detailing Exclusions and Inclusions
- Tips and Suggestions
- Conclusion and Review
- Take The Quiz
Origins of the Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet
In June, 2010, the Journal of the American Dietetics Association published a study revealing gluten cross-contamination in a surprisingly high percentage of gluten-free grains and gluten-free flours.
The study covered inherently gluten-free grains like rice, millet, sorghum and buckwheat. They found that 41% of the tested grains contained traces of gluten, with 32% containing more than the FDA-mandated limit of gluten allowed in products labeled gluten-free (20 ppm). The only tested grain to remain consistently gluten-free was rice.
In February, 2013, the medical journal BMC Gastroenterology published a study illuminating the positive effects of a specific diet they designed to help celiac disease patients avoid this cross-contamination.
Their hypothesis was that many people with Non-Responsive Celiac Disease weren’t healing because gluten was still slipping into their lives through the cross-contamination of gluten-free grains. Their results appeared to have proven their hypothesis.
Eighty-two percent of the patients in their study experienced significant healing on this strict contamination elimination diet. In addition, the patients seemed to tolerate the cross-contamination after they stopped the diet. This suggests that the cross-contamination was so minimal that once their immune systems had healed, the cross-contamination was no longer an issue.
So let’s see what you need to do to implement this restrictive but highly effective diet.
Table Detailing Exclusions and Inclusions
In my table, I’ve used the text from the study and additional interviews with the researcher to help clarify some details of the allowed and prohibited ingredients. This is why my chart is slightly more detailed than the official one.
Because it is so important for you to be strict and vigilant on this diet, I also have a quiz at the end of this lesson. Please keep reviewing this lesson until you can easily ace that quiz.
|Grains||Plain, whole white or brown rice; no processed rice (no rice drinks and no rice flours)||Everything else, including inherently gluten-free grains like buckwheat, millet, quinoa or sorghum; this includes any flours; this also includes seeds or flours made from seeds.
|Proteins||Unseasoned nuts still in their shells, fresh meats, fresh fish, eggs, dried beans (washed, then soaked in warm water before cooked)||Deli slices and lunch meats, ham, bacon, any otherwise cured or processed meats; shelled nuts, butters made from nuts, flours made from nuts (almond flour)|
|Fruits and Vegetables||Any fresh and washed fruits and vegetables||Canned, dried or frozen fruits and vegetables; jars of fruits.|
|Beverages||Unflavored milk (only after 4 weeks), water, certified gluten-free fruit or vegetable juices made with *only* 100% vegetable or fruit (no added ingredients, including any "natural" sweeteners); certified gluten-free supplement formulas (like GF Ensure or GF Boost)||Beer, coffee, wine, soda-pop, any fruit or vegetable juices with any non-fruit or non-vegetable ingredients and not certfied gluten-free|
|Condiments||Pure bottled oils, GF vinegar, pure honey, salt, fresh (not packaged) herbs||Packaged herbs, flavored or malted vinegars, flavored honey, spray oils|
|Dairy||Only allowed after one month and with close monitoring: Unflavored butter, unflavored yogurt or unflavored milk||Not allowed for whole duration of diet: seasoned butter, any flavored dairy products, aged cheese, processed cheese|
Tips and Suggestions
Please work with your doctor and a dietitian. This is a serious medical matter requiring serious medical oversight.
This diet isn’t meant to be maintained for a lifetime: so when in doubt, leave it out. The point is to take every possible measure to avoid gluten cross-contamination for a limited period.
Think of it this way: If it has an ingredient list, don’t eat it.
Remember you can eat rice, but not rice milk or any packaged products made with rice (like gluten-free baked goods).
Do not eat bulk rice. I worked in a natural foods market: trust me, cross contamination happens in even the most pristine-looking bulk sections.
I know it’s expensive and a little controversial, but I personally recommend eating strictly organic food during this three to six month trial. At least try to select and buy organic as often as you can manage.
They don’t explicitly forbid coffee on this diet, but I recommend avoiding it. There have been some reports (though no peer-reviewed published evidence yet) that some people with celiac disease experience cross-reactivity with proteins in coffee. I say don’t take any chances. It’s just three to six months.
I encourage you to only eat brown rice. White rice is a refined grain that will spike your blood sugar, which won’t help while you try to eliminate inflammation and improve your immune system.
I personally recommend keeping dairy products out for up to six weeks, instead of the suggested four weeks. When you re-introduce it (if you choose to re-introduce it), I recommend you do so slowly and with great care. Depending on how well your villi have healed at this early stage, you may still be lactose intolerant. The villi produces the lactase necessary for digesting lactose; when they’re damaged, your body won’t produce the lactase to comfortably digest dairy products.
I recommend soaking beans in warm water to minimize the phytic acid in them. This is especially the case with soybeans. The phytic acids in these beans may inhibit your ability to absorb critical nutrients like calcium.
Conclusion and Review
This is a very promising development in celiac disease treatment and diagnosis. I imagine many people reading this may be in the category of non-responsive celiac disease.
But this is not a trendy diet. This is a real medical necessity for a serious medical condition. The Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet may save lives or greatly improve quality of life.
The treatments for refractory celiac disease are harsh and they come with significant side-effects. The evidence presented alongside this diet suggests a majority of people previously diagnosed with non-responsive or refractory celiac disease can instead find healing through this temporary diet.
Take The Quiz!
How Well Do You Understand The Gluten Contamination Elimination Diet?
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