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I’ve accidentally eaten gluten … what can I do??

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Alison Read 15 Comments - Add Your Own »

It happens. You accidentally eat gluten, and you become sick. Is there anything you can do?

The following is an email I received from a concerned mother, whose daughter suffered recently from an accidental gluten ingestion:

sickMy daughter has just made a transatlantic flight during which the attendants gave her a meal designated specifically for her as gluten free (she had called ahead). She was vomiting for hours on the flight and on route home from the airport.

In the past she has experienced strong “brain fog”, depression, anxiety, fatigue, multiple canker sores, etc when she has gotten a little bit of gluten (she is a college student and her roommates and their guests have occasionally used her stuff or spilled beer, etc).

We know the appropriate treatment for celiac is a gluten free diet, but what can a person do to treat accidental gluten contamination? Are there foods, medications, or therapies that can help eliminate the toxin from the system and shorten the reaction time?

To answer this question I turned to Sheila Wagner, certified nutritionist specializing in food intolerance. She is also gluten-free and has suffered herself from the ill effects of gluten-by-accident. Here is what Sheila recommends for gluten exposure:

Despite being extra careful about eating gluten free, unfortunately, it’s always possible to encounter gluten in settings where we don’t prepare our own food, such as airplanes, restaurants or parties for example. Particularly for these times, I recommend having DPP-IV enzymes available to assist with lessening the gluten response. DPP stands for dipeptidyl peptidase and it is one of many enzymes that we make in our small intestine. Among its many functions is its ability to digest gluten and casein. Lab studies have shown a decrease in blood levels of gluten antibodies following ingestion of manufactured DPP-IV enzymes.

Compounds like metals, pesticides and certain antibiotics can interfere with DPP-IV function and may account for the differences in functional integrity of this enzyme from person to person. So as much I recommend gluten intolerant individuals carry these enzymes with them just in case they are needed, not everyone will get the same degree of benefit by taking them. There is no one protocol for taking the enzymes but I often suggest taking 1-2 capsules as soon as possible after ingesting gluten (or dairy) and then again later in the evening on an empty stomach in order to mop up any gluten that remains in the system. Some people continue to take 1-2 capsules on an empty stomach the next day and even two days following gluten ingestion to continue their attempts at diminishing the slow acting gluten antibody responses.

You can find DPP-IV enzyme containing products on health food store shelves.  Make sure to read the ingredient labels carefully that the product in fact contains DPP-IV. Both Kirkman Labs and Klaire Labs make products specifically for gluten and casein digestion that contain DPP-IV.

Does anyone else have strategies or product suggestions to help relieve accidental gluten ingestion.

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  1. If you have just eaten and know in time, than throwing the food up is an option. Not pretty and not fun, but effective. There are obviously times where this would be inappropriate.

  2. my son and i both have celiac’s, and there’s always accidental slip-ups with the GF diet. we’ve found that as soon as we realized we’ve been gluten-ed if we take ‘spring valley’ papaya enzyme [breaks down gluten]available at wal-mart –it helps tremendously!! we normally treat the gas/cramps/diarrhea with pepto bismol, and headache/brain fog with tylenol brand acetaminophen or excedrin brand extra strength[aspirin caffeine acetaminophen] which is especially helpful if you get a migraine. getting some extra b vitamins helps tremendously with the brain fog, and i’ve sometimes found drinking sugar free red bull helps big time for the brain fog [stir out most of the carbonation first to avoid becoming more gassy] – hope these tips are helpful to someone out there!

  3. I just spent 2 wonderful weeks in France and had no issues with either gluten or dairy allergies. I always carry DPP-IV and took two before each meal. Of course, I did not knowingly order any BAD foods and the French wait staff was always very knowledgeable about food prep, much more so than in the US. I highly recommend carrying DPP-IV as opposed to using all of over-the-counter preparations listed in the post above, especially the RedBull.

  4. Tracey,
    Sounds like a great vacation! I would think France could be quite challenging for both gluten and dairy.

  5. My family of 6 are all gluten free. 5 of us gluten intolerant and one along for the ride. I always keep a bottle of Enzymedica GlutenEase in my purse. It has been a life saver. It is a bit pricey but helps with the symptoms of gluten exposure so much it’s worth it.

  6. Having been VERY allergic always, I have had to have emergency help many times. I found early on that a liquid clay product was my salvation. It would stop food poisoning in five minutes! It has stopped violent symptoms immediately in my two allergic sons as well. I never travel without it. Also, My daughter took 30 anti-spasmodic pills one day,, I poured 8 oz of clay down her on the way to the hospital. The dr. did not even have to pump her stomach, and her life was saved.
    I appreciate the other advice. I will get the Enzymedica stuff right away. Their other products have really helped me.

  7. Thanks for this article it was very helpful.

  8. In our house, we always have AlkaSelzer Gold on hand which helps to keep the body in an alkaline state when the gluten ingestion throws the body into an acidic state. For some reason, we found it to minimize the digestive and central nervous system reaction (depression/anxiety.)

  9. My chiropractor and my allergist carry a powdered form of Vitamin C you drink in water or juice. one or two talespoons and within a short time you will get rid of everything you ate and on the road to feeling better again.

  10. this Vit C is buffered and is gluten free

  11. I think I accidentally ate gluten because I added peach shnapps to a marinade. I just got the worst foot cramp of my life, likely the inflammation :(. And I have papaya enzyme but its at my house..

  12. I have been gluten-free for 5 years and I can no longer believer I was able to function at all before I stopped eating it! When I accidentally ingest wheat – or when I stupidly eat oats or chocolate that aren’t gf – I ha

  13. OOPS, accidentally hit the enter button….

    anyway, I have symptoms within a few hours, sometimes minutes, of brain fog, irritability, talking and thinking nonsense, as if I were temporarily crazy. I actually once (in the early days of gf, when I wasn’t as good at realizing what was going on) broke up with my boyfriend while we were on vacation! and within a few hours was begging him to take me back, as I came out of the fog. And most of the time I get physical symptoms of sluggish digestion, depression, physical weakness, and fatigue to the point of paralysis. I sometimes feel a layer of numbness through my subcutaneous skin layer, and sometime itching related to that feeling.

  14. What works for me, quick relief, is a red delicious apple. Pain and swelling subsides within the first half hour. I prefer the really huge dark ones, cold. So, keep yourself a few apples handy; and thank God

  15. I’ve had undiagnosed celiac disease for over ten yrs. We all know the symptoms. .. Well just recently I was at the health food store and saw a bottle of tablets for celiac disease and the price was astronomical. I looked at the ingredients and found a similar product for over half the price called American Health. Chewable Papaya With Chlorophll. Now i don’t havr all the symptoms anymore but one and that’s a little bloating. No migranes, pain in joints, no brain fog, no diarrhea, no vomiting or irritability and the one no one ever wants to speak of is flatulence. This product is gteat! I suggest to those who haven’t had any luck with their enzyme supplement please try a different company likr spring valley. Thr company is easy on your wallet and has great pharmaceutical pills, taklets and or capsuples. This is a personal endorsement and i am not affiliated with spring valley in any shape or form.

    Good Luck and Happy Eating to All!