Cross-Reactivity and NMS
Looking for the root cause of patient problems often goes beyond only biomechanical factors. Food and digestion are the big ones. And gluten has become a leading cause of most digestive issues. In summary, gluten disrupts the gut lining and initiates leaky gut which leads to increased systemic inflammation.
How often have your patients mentioned that they follow a gluten-free diet? The gluten epidemic has hit the world, and every second patient follows a gluten-free diet.
But what if they still have the same symptoms as before such as brain fog, headaches, digestive issues, rashes, weakness, joint pain, swelling, or fatigue?
If so, it could be that they are eating foods that do not contain gluten but their body is reacting to them as if they do. This process called cross-reactivity.
Let’s talk more in-depth about what cross-reactivity is, how to tell if it’s causing their symptoms, and what you can do about it.
Your adaptive immune system makes antibodies designed to target particular bad guys (antigens) that your immune system has decided are likely to do you harm. Once gluten gets tagged as an antigen, your adaptive immune system makes antibodies to seek it out and sound the alarm every time you ingest it.
Unfortunately, your immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure is similar enough, your immune system registers it as an invader and attacks.
So while on the hunt for gluten, those antibodies can wrongly tag other proteins like gluten, if they recognize specific short amino acid sequences also found in gluten. Your immune system then puts up its defenses, flooding your body with inflammatory chemicals and ratcheting up your level of chronic inflammation and making any existing NMS symptom flare-up or plateau.
This happens most commonly with dairy products, because casein, the protein found in dairy, is so similar to the gliadin protein found in gluten. In fact, it’s estimated that at least half of those who are gluten intolerant are also sensitive to dairy.
Also be aware of these five foods that Cross-React with Gluten
Functional medicine is not surface level diagnosis. Getting to the root cause of symptoms, as in uncovering cross-reactivity, is what it’s all about.