Levels of Gluten Free? Part 1 “The How”

** Disclaimer – I’m not a doctor. See more here**


Ever wonder what’s safe to eat or not, and after some time on a gluten free forum or group ended up more confused than you started…?

Or are new to the whole thing…?

And no one seems to agree!

I’m going to attempt to explain in simple terms the differences in both the body’s reactions and then how that plays into those “levels” of gluten free and what make a difference. Because in this case, sometimes everyone’s right!

It depends on you

Today I’ll cover what reactions gluten can cause, and tomorrow I’ll explain why it makes a difference so you can figure out what’s right for you!


Auto-immune means your body mistakes a part of itself as enemy, and attacks itself.

Celiac disease specifically is an auto-immune disease where the body attacks the lining of the small intestine whenever gluten is present. This is a huge problem (understatement) because your small intestine is where most of your nutrients are absorbed. So over time, left undiagnosed or ignored, someone with celiac will end up malnourished and usually sick with something else because after too much damage the small intestines no longer can do their job. And their bodies will no longer have the vitamins and minerals it needs to fend off actual attackers. 

Other auto-immune diseases include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, endometriosis, fibromyalgia, and Hashimoto’s to name just a few.

Technical stuff: involves the IgA antibodies or possibly IgG (1) 

Gluten Intolerance

Intolerance to a food occurs when your body sees a particular food as an enemy and attacks it. 

If numerous food intolerances are found, this often is caused by leaky gut, where the small intestine lining has become too permeable and is allowing food particles that are too large thru. This means your body needs to deal with these little tiny escapees and it issues an attack. This can be a circular problem; this reaction causes inflammation which can cause leaky gut to worsen, allowing more food particles thru… And you see where this is going…

It is possible to be intolerant to multiple foods. And in fact one of the most common combinations is lactose intolerance with gluten intolerance, approximately 35% of the time they occur together. 

Related to gluten, it’s technical term is “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” or NCGS. Tests for celiac (auto-immune) and wheat allergy (histamine response) are negative BUT relief from multiple symptoms occurs when gluten is removed. 

Some things that also fall under this category are autism, schizophrenia, migraines, and IBS.

Technical stuff: involves the IgA antibodies (2)

Wheat Allergy

This is when the body mounts an attack on an outside substance it is exposed to. The immune system can become over-reactive in some cases and react to many things that aren’t really threats.

It is possible to be allergic to wheat, not gluten. And some who are allergic to wheat can eat other gluten grains, such as rye or barley. 

The most common food allergy is to peanuts, and some people have to carry an epi-pen because it’s a very severe reaction. 

The “luckiest” of all the groups, the symptoms in this category can usually be treated with a histamine blocker such as Benedryl for temporary relief. However, with each exposure there is the risk of greater reaction, and anaphylaxis is quite serious and sometimes deadly. 

Technical stuff: involves the IgE antibodies (3)

Gluten Free Diet

This is the group most hated by all who have to maintain a gluten free lifestyle for health reasons. And you will rarely read anything nice about it on serious gluten free sites. 

These are generally people who have heard that going gluten free causes weight loss. And like all diets, it can be cheated on and upheld only when convenient. Obviously, that’s annoying for anyone who can’t cheat because it poses serious health risks for them to do so. 

Join me tomorrow, and I’ll explain WHY all that makes a difference! 
See Part 2 here!!