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Gluten Mimicking Foods

Foods That Mimic Gluten

What are gluten mimicking foods? A lot of research has been done showing that some foods contain proteins that mimic or look like the gluten proteins that can damage the body of those with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

For a full in-depth breakdown, you can watch the following video. A short overview is also listed below.

Grains That Are Classically Considered to Be Gluten-Free

The following is a list of grains that are commonly used as gluten-free substitutes. Although these grains are considered gluten-free by food labeling law standards, they all contain different forms of gluten and have been shown to contribute to persistent health issues for those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.foods that mimic gluten

  • Corn – Contains a type of gluten protein called zein. Numerous studies have shown that people with gluten sensitivity have trouble healing combined with a persistent disease as long as they continue to consume corn-based products.
  • Rice – Contains a type of gluten protein called orzenin. Rice contains proteins that have been linked to FPIES (Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis) – AKA inflammation of the colon. Rice has also been shown to be high in several heavy metals, also detrimental to health.
  • Oats – Have a type of gluten called avenin. A number of studies have shown that oats are often times cross-contaminated with wheat gluten during harvest and processing. Additionally, studies have also shown that the actual gluten in oats can create an inflammatory reaction in people with gluten sensitivity.
  • Millet – Contains a type of gluten protein called panicin.
  • Sorghum – Contains a type of gluten protein called kafirin.

Pseudo Grains

Pseudo grains are commonly confused for grains, but they are technically not grains at all. There are three types of pseudo-grain: quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth. These are foods that can mimic gluten!

  • Quinoa – Studies show that quinoa proteins can actually mimic gluten and create inflammation for those with gluten issues.
  • Buckwheat – a number of studies show that buckwheat production has issues with gluten cross-contamination
  • Amaranth – like buckwheat, amaranth cross-contamination of gluten can be a major health risk for those with gluten sensitivity.

Can Dairy Mimic Gluten?

Some research shows that the protein, casein, in dairy can actually mimic gluten, and create an inflammatory response because of the similarities. One recent study found that as many as 50% of those with celiac disease reacted to dairy casein proteins. Another issue with dairy has to do with the way that it is processed. Many dairy products are exposed to an enzyme called microbial transglutaminase (I know, that is a mouthful!) Let’s just call it meat glue. When dairy is treated with meat glue, studies show that those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease have inflammatory reactions against it. You can go here for a more in-depth review of the problems with dairy, including casein, while trying to follow a gluten-free diet.

Does Coffee Mimic Gluten?

The short answer is no. Coffee does not mimic gluten. The biggest problem with coffee is that many instant brands have added gluten in them. So the real issue with coffee has to do with added gluten. If you are using fresh whole coffee beans, you do not have to worry about actual gluten exposure. That being said, many people struggle with coffee for other reasons. Because coffee can create symptoms that may mimic gluten exposure, I have attached a more in-depth review of coffee here.

What About Foods That Contain Meat Glue?

Meat glue, AKA microbial transglutaminase (AKA mTg) is an industrial enzyme used in food processing. It is oftentimes used to improve shelf life and food palatability. Unfortunately, this compound does not have to be listed on food labels, because it is considered a processing aid, therefore escaping the definition of a food additive. Researchers have identified that this substance can alter gut permeability contributing to leaky gut. Additionally, researchers have identified that foods processed with mTg can create inflammatory reactions in those with gluten sensitivity. For a more in-depth look at meat glue, please read this article.

In Summary

Going gluten-free for many is a challenge, especially when the traditional gluten-free diet fails to lead to improvements or the molecular mimicry of “non-gluten” foods leads to issues. Consider eliminating the above foods known to either contain non-traditional forms of gluten or foods that mimic gluten.

And if you have felt better avoiding the foods above, let us know by sharing your comments below.

Always looking out for you,

Dr. Osborne – The Gluten Free Warrior

97 Responses

  1. Reactions to Rice, Buckwheat, Sorghum, & Quinoa over 10 years ago. Became grain free before I ever knew. Thank you for getting this info out!

  2. Oh NO! Quinoa has been my ‘go to’ meal! What can I eat that will give me a ‘solid’ feel? Veggies and protein don’t do it…

    1. Quinoa is very common for guts to mistake as gluten! If you have inflammation after going gluten free and dairy free, try removing quinoa for 6-8 weeks. It may be the trigger for you.

        1. Try the Ketogenic Diet. Go to Maria Emmerich’s blog and read about it. Her book is awesome, “Keto” by Maria and Craig Emmerich. I’m Celiac, allergic to cow’s milk, soy, corn, spinach, pine nuts, and peanuts…been doing Keto 18 years, Carnivore 2 years. It also controls the inflammation from autoimmune, I have Lupus. You can convert from a glucose burner to a fat burner, and your dietary fat will give you energy — you do not need carbs for energy, in fact, your liver has a process called gluconeogenesis, meaning it can make all the glucose your cells need, the ones that cannot burn ketones/fat. I’ve also controlled hemiplegic migraines for 20 years on this whole food ketogenic diet. Yes we eat low glycemic veggies, we do not suck on bacon or butter sticks!

          1. I was on Keto diet for awhile. It’s very good for a short time to lose weight, but my gosh all that fatty meat, fatty dairy products really causes cholesterol to shoot up and clogs arteries. I learned you can certainly lose weight from low carbs while clogging your arteries on high fats.

      1. I have been sick for 7 year and can’t find out what I have I ask the dr if gluten was hurting me he said no I ask for a test it came out negative. So I non celiac disease sensitive. If you could help me and let me know what kind of food I would try it to get my life back Thanks

        1. Please check for environmental toxins in your home. I’ve learned these can make ppl very sick, round the clock, not just when you’re inside of it. Many ppl have what’s called environmental illness. Examples….popcorn ceilings have asbestos which cause horrible symptoms. Many apartments contain formaldehyde building materials, as do many mobile homes and gas stove emit it alot or possible mold in the home. Toxins could be your culprit.

      1. Do you talk about night shades much because these make me feel weird aswell , all of these food intolerances change the structure of how I think and feel completely , and now when I’m off these and sticking to MY now usual eating I feel so much better

    2. Eat Quinoa if you have no issues with it and enjoy it. This article only applies to very few people who may have a sensitivity. If you don’t then just ignore and enjoy your meal.

    3. my daughter in law gave me a good cookbook called Against All Grain by Danielle Walker and she uses nuts in grain free and dairy free recipes. If you tolerate nuts, check her out.

  3. Reading The Plant Paradox, and surprised how lectins, similar to glutens, cause health problems. Dairy in U.S. is casein 1 and loaded with lectins. I did remove all grains from my diet, but was shocked what I though I was eating a clean diet, was a diet high in lectins.

    1. Hi Dr Osborne, I was wondering if you would care to comment on lectins in an autoimmune effected person’s diet/ in a “healthy person’s diet
      Thank you A

  4. As I read these info pieces I get concerned about what to eat, then I ask myself…why can’t I eat the things others can…..WHAT am I missing in my physiological make up? Is there something I can ADD to give me less reactivity? Are we looking at this from only one angle?

    1. I would agree. We can’t always look from “I don’t have ” perspective. Try healing gut and digestive tract, then bouts with food shouldn’t be as severe.

  5. Ive been only eating brown rice and have been suffering alit the past 3 months. Not sure if it is the briwn rice. But what else is left to eat. Thankyou fir the information.

    1. Brown rice makes my tummy bloated and unhappy. Grain free has made all the difference for me. There are plenty of starchy fruit/veggies to fill the void. Plantains, potatoes ,sweet potatoes, yam, cassava, bananas.

      1. Sumer have you tried eating Germinated Rice or Sprouted Rice ?? Supposedly germinating or sprouting kills the Lectins that cause the disruption in the digestive tract….I have nearly eliminated Consuming Lectins as well as taking Lectin Blockers by Dr. Adamo

      2. I agree with Sumer. There are lots of healthy choices to replace grains. The winter squashes are excellent as well as rutabagas, which I roast in the oven like fries! So yummy! Also,Green Giant now has a frozen combo of cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Add a protein and you have a lunch or dinner! Awesome!

        1. green giant is full of preservatives that will inflame the stomach ..better to eat organic free of pesticides and GMO ….It saved me to start eating only organic

      3. Yes, green bananas! Boiled…works as potato sub. Sliced green and dehydrated…then made into a flour…resistent starches so healing for the gut!!

    2. We need to think outside the box. I sometimes have homemade soup and meatloaf for breakfast – people over react to this. Why when it is healthy food.

  6. I still don’t know if wild rice is safe to eat on a gluten free diet. So, does anyone know for sure, there is conflicting advice on the web.

      1. Yes, Linda and Cin. There are ways to heal the gut (GAPS diet is one), and there can be a lot less gut damage or even no more food sensitivities. But the truth is, our modern diet is not true healthy eating. I have improved considerably since abiding for the most part to the WAPF protocols, which are traditional foods, prepared the traditional way. But I am not Celiac, so, although eating traditionally and GAPS would def be the way to go, I’m not sure if there is a complete healing of the gut for that.

  7. Dr, could you please tell what basically my celiac daughter can eat? is sweet patatoe ok? is rice ok? Should she stay away from corn?


  8. Dr. Osborne, it seems to me that the only way to know if a gluten free diet is working is to have a follow up endoscope test done after being on a gluten free diet for a year. I’m going to ask my doctor.
    Tom Belisle

  9. Dear Dr. Osborne,

    My functional doctor put me on a supplement that is rice-based with antioxidants called “UltaClear” by Metagenics (I am highly intolerance to pea based protein so couldn’t go that route). The container states “gluten-free” but I know we are talking about “mimicry” here. Are you familiar with this product and do you think that the rice protein in it (the products just lists “rice protein…15 g) would be problematic for me pertaining to gluten mimicry?

    Thank you very kindly,

    1. Patty,
      With rice, we are not talking mimicry, we are talking about an actual form of gluten called orzenin. You can look at a chart on glutens in grain on the bottom of this page.
      I would highly discourage anyone with a gluten sensitivity issue to consume rice. Ask you doctor for an alternate product. Rice is a very big problem in the supplement industry, but I have met with several major manufacturers personally, and hope to have this potential problem remedied soon!
      All the best,
      Dr. O

      1. Dear Dr. Osborne,

        I so appreciate the time you have taken to respond Dr. Osborne. Any chance you know of a protein power with vitamins and minerals (not pea based as highly intolerant) in place of the rice based protein my functional doc has me on as I had had the argument with her on the rice previously (since the naturopath has had me the AIP diet) but she did not know an alternative so told me to stick with the rice. ☹️ Wondering if there is anything I might inform her of as an alternative…our time always appears limited during appointments and I want her to think I am working with her (versus going against her). If not, perhaps just a good multivitamin in place of?

        Thank you again!

        Pattt Nixon

  10. BS’D
    Wow thanks for this Dr Osborne. Happy to know it’s not my imagination & not only me; corn, millet, quinoa & amaranth & sometimes rice, hit my gut like wheat. Buckwheat I can eat limited amount before it hits me as well.

    BTW because of the microbial transglutaminase in many dairy productsit’s good to get only those with the more stringent kosher supervision, because then even a small amount of a meat by-product is forbidden to be in it.

  11. I do eat rice but all the other grains and grain substitutes (and milk products) Dr. Osborne mentions cause me grief, also legumes and oats. I am also allergic to peanuts, coconut, hazelnuts, and nutmeg. I research every packaged product I buy to identify whether they also sell nut or grain based items, to limit risk of cross contamination.

    I have a solid healthy diet and for the first time in years am having to take measures to lose weight.

    Fresh/frozen meats and vegetables, flax and psyllium for fiber (carefully sourced, I grind the flax myself), a simple gluten free bread mix and (occasionally) rice.

    It’s difficult to wrap your head around, especially if you are as stubborn and unaccepting as I am, but eliminating foods that cause your body grief is an iterative but worthwhile process!

  12. Thanks for this valuable information. I am trying to go glutenfree because of Hashimoto sikness. I believe that cheese should be caseinfree, is it right? Where could I read more about lectines?

  13. Really helpful article, Dr. O. It makes more sense now why grain-free diets are advised. I happened to catch one typo in the story that you might want to fix…”Rice has also bee shown to be high in several heavy metals, also detrimental to health.”

  14. I have celiacs and MTHFR (HOMO) I was advised to go on a diet of meat n veg nothing in a packet can nothing processed and absolutely no grain about 2 mth s ago im 64 and finally feel *good

  15. Hello Dr. Osborne
    I cannot digest coconut milk or coconut oil but have no problem with avocado or olive oil. What is it in coconut that my body cannot break down? I have had in the past had trouble digesting cocoa butter as well. Am I lacking certain enzymes to break dowm fats?
    Also I cannot eat eggs. Is this because of the grains that are fed to the chickens?

    1. Pam,
      You may be allergic to coconut and eggs. It is hard to know without accurate testing. I can answer this question in a lot more detail, if you ask it on Monday night during the Pick Dr. Osborne’s Brain Show on my Youtube Channel. Make sure you subscribe to get notified when we are on the air and live for QnA.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  16. What about guar gum? I’ve been reacting strongly to that.
    I has some coconut ice cream which uses plant gums [used to thicken and stop separation] and was constipated and sick.
    Do plant gums mimic gluten? Gum is like glue?

  17. Hi! Thank you for your work about gluten sensitivity. It has been very enlightening for me!

    I was on a standard gluten-free diet for years and still experiencing increasing gut damage until I figured out I was reacting to rice and even rice cross-contamination. I believe I react very strongly to any gluten-like protein.

    By that point, my digestive system was so damaged I had to eliminate all kinds of seeds because I couldn’t digest them anymore.

    Now I’m recovered and I’ve been able to add some nuts and seeds to my diet.

    I would like buckwheat to be part of my diet because there are many organic snacks containing buckwheat.

    From what I understood, if buckwheat is free from cross-contamination it should be safe, right?

    It does not contain any gluten-like protein?

    1. Sara,
      I would advise that you approach buckwheat very cautiously. In my experience, those with gluten issues don’t do well with it.
      All the best,
      Dr. O

  18. If you look into Paleo recipes or AIP autoimmune protocol- they avoid all grains- so TONS of recipes out there! I love Against All Grain by Daniel Walker. She has like 4 books- even a Celebrations one with good classics. Meals made simple one is super easy and flavorful. Websites/ facebook groups like Unskilled Cave Woman and many others. I use just dont buy packaged stuff a lot. There are cassava chips and tortillas out there- that is how I stay feeling normal and not deprived. Also Plantain chips in coconut oil- not bad oil are a good crunch/ dip alternative too. Sweet potatoes can be filling if you need starch.

  19. I am eating gluten free everything… my blood test showed an increase in cholesterol and sugar. I am a heart patient and I told my doc what am I to eat if I can’t eat fruit, etc. HELP!!

    Thank you!

  20. Apparently, if one is sensitive to any of the gliadins (glutins in general) staying completely away from all grains may be best. This Includes rice, oats, and pseudo grains, along with all other grains, and grain fed meats and poultry which often still can pass on the damaging gliadin proteins. Free range grass fed meats, poultry and eggs etc generally are OK for many celiac or IBD folk. For folk still struggling with digestive issues, have you considered testing for MTHR gene variants, and/or sulphur sensitivities? All foods contain sulphur, and that is a good thing since all body processes need sulphur, but too much sulphur from the foods highest in sulphur compounds, or sulphur compound food additives, can result in gut damage, because any excess not taken up by absorption to be used by the cells, may produce hydrogen sulphide gas, which is corrosive to the gut lining. For some MTHR gene variants, sulphur shows up as a problem, and often that is why eggs, red meats, and other foods particularly high in sulphur like dairy, spinach, cruciferous veggies etc can prove problematic. Think back to basic high school chemistry, or even volcanic activity. Hydrogen sulphide combined with water produces sulphuric acid. Very corrosive to all body tissues! Just a thought.

  21. I believe in most of that just , but actually farmed fish from Alaska where the fish live wild with no additives they fed and free of pcps heavy metals etc. same with omega 3 I only use plant based because of heavy metals …

    1. Sorry you have developed the ataxia….no fun! I’ll get it if I drink too much alcohol or cheat. Scares me so I’ve been alcohol and grain/dairy free for the most part, for 6 years. If I cheat or have been exposed, I’ll be walking sideways again for sure 🙁

  22. Thanks for the information. Luckily, I don’t react to buckwheat flour. The only oats I don’t have trouble with are the whole oats from Aldi.

  23. Great article, thank you. I wish I’d have known about cross reactivity sooner, it’s been a long hard, downward road so far for many years. Rice in nearly all supplements too which I noted you were working on changes, also an appreciated effort.

    Curious if you or anyone else has seen someone extremely reactive, to the point of also having to cut all nuts, seeds & beans be able to tolerate white jasmine rice?

  24. Going completely grain free has made me feel tremendously better!! Thank you so much Dr. Osborne for caring about the health and lives of other people. Since being grain free, my overall health has improved greatly! I’m so thankful to know the truth about foods that truly contain gluten and foods that mimic gluten. Being completely grain free does take time and effort and the time invested is greatly beneficial! Thank you Dr. Osborne and the Gluten Free Society Team!

  25. I’m not getting how some of you are either gluten sensitive or celiac and still eating grains, and thinking that they aren’t harming the gut! After reading No Grain No Pain, I finally got it. Just because you are not getting symptoms right away, does not mean the gut lining is still not being destroyed. STOP before the villi flatten completely! That’s when nutrients can’t be absorbed and the sicknesses really start showing up!

    1. Yea definitely my mum died before she realised, liver & kidneys failed while she thought she was eating healthy, weetabix every day 😔and the doctors didn’t say a word about food intolerance!

  26. Thank you so so much for ALL your scientific knowledge. I have three questions:
    Is arrowroot a gluten-mimic?
    Does it cause inflammation because of cross contamination?
    I have the same questions about tapioca.
    Thank you so much in advance for your response.

  27. Hi Folks, another reason to avoid rice is it is high in Arsenic which is very bad for your health. You can do an internet search and read the Consumers report on this. Best of health to you all, Danny

  28. Thanks Dr. Osborne. You have included almost all the grains that are not gluten free. Surprisingly other med websites and doctors who list rice, oats, buckwheat, millet etc as gluten free, you have rendered them gluten carriers. The question is what is left to eat and who to trust?

  29. no thyroid last 20 years and I was suggested to start bio ident. hormones. I been having low b12 which was never closely identified. I am wondering about my l6 hr. IF and keto diet right now.I also developed high BP l45over 82. Am I stressing my adrenals. Thank you dr.Osborne. Waiting for you book..

  30. I thought I was doing well eliminating gluten from my life, but my stomach still feels a bit bloated and uncomfortable. Ive noticed Ive been eating a lot of rice, Lucky Charms and corn tortillas because I thought all these were gluten-free.

    Now I just feel discouraged that ANYTHING I eat will make me feel this way 🙁

  31. I have been grain-free (no pseudo-grains either) – I have gluten sensitivity according to a geneteic test – as well as dairy free for a long time, but I don’t do well on white/sweet potatoes either. White potatoes cause bloating and I find sweet potatoes way too sweet. What is left to eat on a vegan diet? I have been vegan for a long time, I wouldn’t be able to eat animal products. Thank you!

  32. I am watching Dr Osborn’s video for few weeks now and I am amazed by it. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto last year, developed vitiligo in addition to.
    Looking for any kind of solution to kick it out of my body.

  33. Thank you for your work Doctor. I took the survey and it showed I have sensitivity. Typically I have little to no reaction to Gluten products, except if I consume too much within a small time frame. So now following your survey I am consuming little to none and feel so much better. I also noticed my bloating in my gut had also reduced. I’m writing a book on inflammation that should be out soon. You will be mentioned in it. Thank you for your work!

  34. My earlier reaction to gluten have been a skin rashes like atopic dermatitis which have cleared up since going gluten free, but recently started having bloating and cramps from contamination. I’m from Nigeria in Africa and this makes my situation very challenging because gluten sensitivity is not common here as I react to most drugs because they contain corn or grain base making it difficult to supplement. I pray there’s a way out of this for me.

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