Dr. David Clark, DC - Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Functional Neurologist- explains exactly what coffee has to do with gluten sensitivity.
I want to share and update some new information about the danger of gluten sensitivity and coffee.
In October 2012 I attended a conference at which Dr. Aristo Vojdani (PhD immunologist) delivered a presentation that clarified the situation about coffee and gluten sensitivity--as well as clearing up the issue of cross-reaction between gluten antibodies and other foods and body tissues.
If you remember, about a year and a half ago I posted some information about the reaction between coffee and gluten. At the time back then, basically what we knew was that there was a protein in coffee that would cross-react with gluten.
What is "Cross-Reaction?"
Cross-reaction means that the antibodies for gluten--which normally stick to gluten and help your immune system find gluten and kill it--those antibodies can stick to other foods that are NOT gluten...because some foods look close enough to gluten that gluten antibodies will stick to them.
If you eat those foods that the gluten antibodies can cross-react with, then you can cause a gluten-type of immune system reaction. You could be eating a gluten-free diet--but to your immune system you’re really not eating gluten-free because these other foods are cross-reacting with the gluten antibodies.
At the time when I first posted the information on coffee cross-reacting with gluten, there was a huge uproar. Hundres of people emailed me and thousands of people watched the video and made comments like this:
‘I eliminated coffee based on this video and it made a huge difference in my life.’
And I’m glad that it helped---but eliminating coffee probably didn’t help because of anything to do with gluten cross-reaction.
Dr. Vojdani's updated information from the conference in October 2012 was published in January 2013. (Journal article here). Here's what we know NOW in 2013:
Regular coffee is not the problem. Instant coffee is the problem.
I know that will make a LOT of people happy.
There are some legitimate reasons why eliminating coffee could make you feel better--and I'll get to those in just a mintue---but next, I’m going to explain to you how they did this mind-blowing, super criitical study "Cross-Reaction between Gliadin and Different Food and Tissue Antigens."
I’ll just break it down like this:
(Gliadin is only ONE protein in wheat--but we’ll use gliadin for simplicity's sake)...
Gliadin binding with the gliadin antibody is equal to 100%. Makes sense, right?
Here's the "binding reaction rate" (my term) for some other foods with gliadin antibodies..
- Gluten - 100%
- Instant Café Latte - 83% (That's HUGE!)
They found that only about 20% of that 83%reaction was due to the milk in the Instant Cafe Latte. (That’s a whole other video about milk.)
About 62% of that 83% reaction was due to gluten contamination of the instant coffee product.
They wrote that when they looked closely and read the label, they saw
“May contain gluten.”
And this is the problem with the original information that I shared about coffee....instant coffee was the problem, not regular coffee.
It gets worse. Not only was the instant café latte powder the problem....
They also checked two additional kinds of instant coffee and those two showed up to a 23% binding reaction with gliadin antibodies.
The good news is there was no reaction... no cross-reaction....for pure, fresh coffee made from coffee beans from Israel, Turkey, Armenia, Greece. No reaction.
Plus, there was no reaction from fresh espresso coffee made from four different coffee houses, one of which was --and I know you’re all going to be very happy---Starbucks.
There was no reaction between their espresso and gluten antibodies.
FYI -- there was also no reaction for pure cocoa and milk-free dark chocolate. As you’re going to find out if you don’t already know, milk is the single biggest cross-reactor. Milk is very problematic.
So, if regular coffee doesn't appear to cross react with gluten antibodies, but you stopped drinking coffee...and felt much better...then WHY did that happen?
I’m going to end it with this:
- Almost all persons with autoimmune diseases (whether diagnosed or undiagnosed) have an un-regulated and un-balanced TH1/TH2 cytokine system.
- Coffee is a TH2 immune system booster---because it contains caffeine as well as flavonoids.
- Drinking coffee can skew the immune system of an autoimmune patient in a way that worsens their imbalance and make them feel worse. (Conversely, it could also make an autoimmune patient feel much better. Just depends on the person.)
- Stopping coffee could help restore some kind of balance to the immune system of an autoimmune patient.
So, if you got rid of coffee and you felt better, this autoimmune scenario may be why. But the reason proabably wasn’t gluten antibody cross-reaction, unless of course you were drinking instant coffee products.
The moral of this LONG story is this:
If you felt good after eliminatingcoffee but you weren’t drinking instant coffee, then there’s a pretty good chance that you have some kind of autoimmune condition. You need to be working with someone that understands the TH1 and TH2 issues and how to help you deal with it effectively.
This new information is shocking to me and also exciting. I have a ton more information to share with you, so keep an eye out.
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© 2013 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)