Does Gluten Intolerance Cause Other Food Allergies?

on Mar28
by Dr. Vikki Petersen | Print the article |

Does gluten intolerance (inclusive of both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity) cause one to develop more food intolerances? The answer is definitely yes, but perhaps not in the way that you think.

What Happens When You React to Many Foods?

A reader asked me the following question:

“I have been very ill and have dropped down 4 sizes over 4 months and am still unable to manage to even keep much of any gluten free food down at the moment. I am going for a scope [endoscopy] soon to determine what kind of damage has been done to my bowels…My diagnosis went from IBS [irritable bowel syndrome] to a skin test which showed that I am allergic to wheat and barley and …I began consuming a lot of apples as snacks once I learned that I was gluten intolerant and developed an allergy to them as well…I read that when you consume too much of one food that your body can develop an intolerance to it-especially once you react to gluten…can you please explain why this happens…

Thank you so much for the information and help that you provide on a consistent basis!”

This is an excellent question and I wanted to write a unique post to address the important issue she raises as I see it commonly.

Let’s explore this a bit more deeply.

What’s the Difference Between an Allergy & a Sensitivity?

One develops allergic symptoms due to the immune system “labeling” something as a toxin or foreign invader. In a classic allergic response the reaction is often immediate and dramatic -those suffering with peanut allergies are a perfect example. The reaction is so intense as to be life threatening for some.  This reaction is created by a specific immunoglobulin (a protein designed to fight toxic or foreign substances) named immunoglobulin E or IgE for short. This is the type of allergic reactions that a scratch test would identify.

Why “Scratch Tests” Don’t Work for the Gluten Intolerant Individual

Note that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are not moderated by IgE, they are not the same as having a wheat allergy and will not show positive on a scratch test.  This can be a source of confusion when a patient wants to be tested for gluten intolerance but instead asks their doctor for a wheat allergy test.  They are not remotely the same thing. Those suffering with IgE initiated food allergies tend to know it because they react rather dramatically and quickly to the offending food.

Celiac and gluten sensitivity are mediated by the immunoglobulins A and G, and those are measured in lab tests for both conditions. These types of reactions can vary dramatically in their time frame of reaction – from several hours to several days after ingestion of the offending food.

Why & How Other Food Intolerances Develop

How does gluten intolerance result in other intolerances developing? Gluten creates a leaky gut due to the damage and inflammation it causes to the lining of the small intestine. The “leakiness” is due to a reaction of the immune system, which over time, creates a loss of integrity of the small intestinal lining and it becomes more permeable, or leaky, to substances that a normal small intestine would keep within its lining. This not only results in partially digested gluten leaving the small intestine but it also allows a host of other partially digested foods to leave through that overly permeable small intestine.

The permeable small intestine allows a variety of substances to enter the bloodstream that wouldn’t normally be present.  In this person’s example, she states that she began to consume a lot of apples and now believes she’s developed an intolerance to them.

Stepping back and reading her entire comment, it does sound as if she has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  Her testing should give her more information but I am suspicious based on her symptoms. If my suspicion is correct then the likelihood of her having a leaky gut is high and it explains her “intolerance” to apples.

The good news is that the reaction is less a problem with apples themselves than it is with the fact that her bloodstream’s immune system is coming in contact with partially digested food. You see, the apple could actually be any food she was eating frequently.

What Can You Do?

This scenario is a common one that we see a great deal of in our patients. The correct treatment epitomizes our philosophy here at HealthNOW. In fact, the HealthNOW Method focuses on getting to the underlying root cause of a problem  rather than just treating the symptom itself.

In other words when a person starts developing reactions to foods that they never had before, the correct step is to discover why, not simply remove the food thinking that it is the problem.

It would be like having a paper cut and then squeezing a lemon.  The lemon would burn the cut but is the burning the lemon’s “fault” or is the actual problem the cut?  Would the burning that the lemon caused mean that you should never touch another lemon? Of course not.

Similarly the true culprit for this person isn’t the innocent apple, but rather the leaky gut that is preventing the proper digestion of food.  If she stopped eating apples and began to eat more oranges, it is likely that the same thing would happen.

Heal the Leaky Gut!

I have seen many patients who had whittled their diet down to only a few foods because they found themselves intolerant to so many things in their diet. It is rewarding to reveal the true cause, a leaky gut, and when that is healed find that the patient can start to reintroduce foods that were problematic in the past.

But please remember that gluten and dairy are typically the culprits and thus far in my experience, cannot be reintroduced in any quantity.

The takeaway here is that we now have another set of symptoms to add to the long list of those associated with gluten intolerance. If you or someone you know seems to be developing an increasing intolerance to foods, it is likely they are gluten intolerant. If that is the case, in addition to eliminating gluten from the diet, they need to heal the gut completely.

A measure of this occurring will be the ability to reintroduce the problematic foods with a good result.

I hope you find this helpful. Please let me know how I can be of further assistance. We see patients from across the country as well as internationally.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN

Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center

Co-author of “The Gluten Effect

Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.

The Author

17 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Kit



    Thank you for your article, it was very informative. I’m a 40 year old women with many issues with food. I was diagnosised with intorerance to soy protein, milk protien, egg whites, and gluten. (Thats all I was tested for). After eliminating them for a couple of months, I was retested and the results came back normal. About a year ago, I had a terrible allergic reaction to iodine leaving me with infected painful eczema all over my body and (I believe) sending my immune system into chaos. Since then, my health has worsened and I am left feeling fatiuged and dizzy if I eat any sugar, dairy, gluten, corn, eggs or too many carbs, to name a few. My problem is I don’t know what to eat. I have been trying to stick with lean meats and vegies with few grains. Could my iodine incident have caused celiac disease? Should I just try to eat really healthy and hope for the best? I have in the past tried to heal my leaky gut with probiotics, l-glutimine, aleo vera, etc. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you for your time in answering my questions.

    28 Mar
  2. 3

    Dear Kit,

    It is possible that the reaction to iodine ‘turned on’ the genes associated with celiac disease. You would have to have had these genes your entire life, of course, but they could have successful remained ‘turned off’ until the terrible allergic reaction that you describe.

    The concept of celiac lying dormant until a dramatic ‘incident’ occurs is newer research but true nonetheless.

    I know that you are feeling awful and I do think that our program could help. Taking all steps to identify why you are sensitive to so many foods, how irritated or weakened your intestine is, and if any infections or cross-reactive foods are present, would be an excellent place to start.

    Please contact me via the website or call the office at 408-733-0400. I would be happy to help you restore your health!

    To your good health,
    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  3. 4

    Hi Kit.
    Can I say something as a “lay-person”? I’ve never heard of this iodine/food allergy connection before, but I might have some experience with it. Even though I had digestive issues all my life, they really worsened after a couple of specific incidents. First I had an appendectomy. My wounds were cleaned with a high dose of iodine. This is what I believe (in my humble opinion) might have caused my body to go hyperthyroid only 6 or so weeks later (too much thyroid hormone). Because the doctors could not heal the hyperthyroidism, they gave me radioactive iodine, which eventually caused me to go hypothyroid (not enough thyroid hormone). For more than a decade I have had this under control, but I have recently discovered that when my thyroid levels are low, my food sensitivities increase. This has nothing to do with gluten, by the way. No matter how perfect my thyroid is, I will never be able to eat gluten. But soy, dairy, legumes, etc. (eat seems like everything!) cause me problems when I have low thyroid levels. Iodine effects your thyroid levels. So my one little piece of advice – see if you can get your thyroid checked. There is a basic thyroid test, and a more detailed/advanced test. Make sure you get that advanced one. Dr. Petersen would probably know better than I, what the name of those thyroid tests are.

    28 Mar
  4. Sharon


    I have a question, I have been gluten free going on almost 4 years, I’m also a type 1 diabetic with hypothyroidism. I have all these under control until just recently I started experiencing the gas, bloating, diarrhea. The symptoms are simalar to what I experienced with celiac disease. My doctor just tested my anti bodies for celiac and the test came back normal actually the #’s were low. My thyroid test came back normal too. Could I have developed an allergy to dairy? I thought if your intestines were healed you would be fine.

    Please help.

    Thank you!

    28 Mar
  5. 6

    Hello Sharon,

    This is a common problem. Something is preventing your digestive tract from healing completely. It could be another food reaction, as you mentioned or it could be an infectious organism that has taken up residence in your gut. It could also be insufficient enzymes or good probiotics. It’s not difficult to determine which factor(s) is at issue, that’s what we do here.

    Feel free to give us a call and we can set up a free consultation: 408-733-0400. You are obviously doing a good job of avoiding gluten and there is no reason that you shouldn’t be enjoying optimal health. But your symptoms prove that there is a stressor that must be addressed.

    Let me know if you’d like our help!

    All the best,
    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  6. Scott R


    I am Gluten Sensitive. I also had a reaction to Apples. The reason I did was because the wax coating on the Apples had wheat in it. Les Lectin (I believe) was the name of the wax used. I bought them from WalMart and the Apples were shipped from Washington state. Now I only buy local.

    28 Mar
  7. 8

    Dear Scott,

    I tried to find some information on wax on apples but could find none relating to gluten. I did find a reference stating their can be casein (a milk protein) in the wax, but nothing about gluten. Is it possible that you were reacting to casein?

    If you have more specific information regarding gluten in wax please pass it along so that I can inform others.

    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  8. 9

    Okay Scott,

    I did a bit more digging – I hate mysteries! The shellac is called lac resin and it is known to have either soy or casein in it, not gluten by what I can tell. Is it possible that you have a dairy or soy reaction that mimicked a gluten reaction? That certainly is known to happen. Casein in particular is a cross-reactive food for gluten and soy is an extremely common allergen.

    Hope that helps.

    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  9. Ryan M


    About any food being shipped… As I have seen working for a dairy distributor as a delivery person, many items are all delivered on the same truck, and I’ve noticed that the bags of wheat seem to leak slightly, I’m guessing that the farther that something has traveled that the more opportunities that it has had to come into contact with wheat at some point along the way.

    28 Mar
  10. laura



    My husband has been gluten free since February after dealing with extreme stomach conditions his whole life, even resulting in a portion of his intestine being removed. When he first went gluten free, the results were fabulous! All of his problems simply dissapeared. Since then his stomach has been slowly regressing to the condition it was in prior to the gluten free diet (even though he’s still gluten free.) The only time he can seem to get relief now is on a brat diet.

    We had assumed there were other foods causing an issue. Is this possible? I’m having hard time thinking the article above applies to us as his stomach had gotten better before it regressed. Do you have any insight? Do we need to eliminate everything for a period for his stomach to heal again and then reintroduce? (We tried that for a couple weeks recently with no real results.)

    Any insight you could give would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    28 Mar
  11. 12

    Hello Laura,
    Sorry for the delay in responding.
    It is possible that your husband is reacting to other foods. The more likely scenario is that he is suffering from the secondary effects of gluten. It is not at all unusual for symptoms to initially disappear and then return after a period of time. The culprit is these secondary effects. They are not hard to handle and if you search ‘secondary effects’ on my site ( you can easily find them.

    If you would like our assistance, we’d be happy to offer your husband a free health analysis – 408-733-0400. We are here to help!

    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  12. Janee Hobbs


    My one year old had leaky gut and 40 food sensitivities(blood test). So we did food rotation and herbs etc. He seemed to be better for a year or two. Then at three he had his first big belly bloat followed with severe outdoor allergies and upper respiratory infections till now. His gas got much worse and the tummy issues increased last summer. In October our new doctor did the food panel again and did a genetic test. He still had food sensitivities but he also carries he gene for celiac disease. Given that his stools which I though was from drainage were actually the fatty stuff in them multi colored too. Always sick. Severe excema since a baby. The doc said he felt as if my son did have celiac disease and leaky gut. He is seeming to do better since going of gluten and the high foods tummy aches gone. Immune system getting better but not completely. He didn’t recoment getting scoped since my sons digestive symptoms weren’t severe, just increasing and he wanted to try diet first and to heal the gut. And see where that gets us. What is the best way to heal a gut. He takes low dose naltrexone, slippery elm, omega 3′s, glutathione recycler, probiotics. We have a mineral blend he refuses. Its really hard to get a six year old to eat new food when most of his favorites he can’t eat any longer. To name a few. Corn, soy(not a fav)just in eeverything, yeast, potatoes, apples bananas. Garlic, tomatoes. These are all the foods he consumed most. He does pretty good eating fresh but I feel he is starting to developed new sensitivities, so I’m feeling like we haven’t healed his gut yet. He must sound sickly, but his is a fit kid, active, very strong, and very athletic. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at him there is something wrong. But he is that kid that if there is something to catch he does.

    28 Mar
  13. 14

    I recently did a video “After the Celiac Diagnosis, Now What Do I Do?” – it’s located on our home page. In it I delineate the steps we take to handle the secondary effects of gluten. The fact that your son has so many food reactions leads me to believe that we should approach healing his gut in a more scientific and thorough manner. In other words, I agree with your ‘gut’ reaction!
    Please feel free to contact us for a free health analysis by calling the office at 408-733-0400. The good news is that we have excellent success with cases such as your son.

    Dr Vikki

    28 Mar
  14. Neta Atkison


    Most people will have some problem with allergies or allergic reactions at some point in their lives. Allergic reactions can range from mild and annoying to sudden and life-threatening. Most allergic reactions are mild, and home treatment can relieve many of the symptoms. An allergic reaction is more serious when severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) occurs, when allergies cause other problems (such as nosebleeds, ear problems, wheezing, or coughing), or when home treatment doesn’t help.

    28 Mar
  15. 16

    Effective management of allergic diseases relies on the ability to make an accurate diagnosis. Allergy testing can help confirm or rule out allergies.Correct diagnosis, counseling and avoidance advice based on valid allergy test results will help reduce the incidence of symptoms, medications and improve quality of life.^;.*

    28 Mar
  16. 17

    Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will send this post to him. Fairly certain he will have a very good read. Many thanks for sharing!

    28 Mar
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