Hidden Sources of Gluten

If you have Celiac Disease, or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), but are still having villi damage or residual symptoms, you may still be getting gluten exposure from hidden sources, including non-dietary sources. This comprehensive list will help you identify potential exposures that you weren’t aware of and then you can make sure to read their labels or avoid entirely. For those with Celiac Disease, complete avoidance of gluten is important. Some non-Celiac patients may also be sensitive enough that even tiny exposures are problematic.​​​​​​

Fillers: Know your sensitivities and their Sources!

Here’s the scoop: many over-the-counter supplements and nearly all medications contain fillers called excipients, that perform several functions: they provide bulk, help with disintegration of the tablet in the digestive tract, or facilitate absorption or solubility of the drug. Some excipients’ only purpose is to increase non-stick properties in production machinery. Many of these fillers are sourced from wheat, corn, barley, rice or potato, but their label names do not reveal their source.Below are some common excipients to look out for, along with their hidden sources (worth noting is that some of these fillers are found in packaged foods as well: read your labels!). 

  • Dextri-maltose (barley malt)
  • Dextrins (primarily corn and potato, but can come from wheat, rice, tapioca)
  • Dextrans (sugar)
  • Dextrose (corn starch)
  • Dextrate (starch – source not listed)
  • Maltodextrin (corn, wheat, potato, rice)
  • Maltodextrin (corn, wheat, potato, rice)
  • Pregelatinized starch (corn, wheat, potato, tapioca)**
  • Sodium starch glycolate (commonly potato, but has other starch sources)**
  • Not fillers, but worth honorable mention: some vitamin E is sourced from wheat germ, and most vitamin C is sourced from corn.
  • Be on the lookout for any starches; they are primarily derived from corn, potato (and tapioca), and they have been known to contain starch from wheat
  • Some thyroid medications have gluten- or corn-based fillers, which cause immune cross-reactions for patients. Click here for a regularly updated page on thyroid medication ingredients.
  • Reportedly, some oral Type 2 diabetes medications contain gluten; check all ingredients.
  • While a diabetic may not be sensitive to gluten in the same way as someone with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, in the case of Type 1 diabetes, gluten has been shown to cross-react with pancreatic islet cells.

*Any product containing pregelatinized starch or sodium starch glycolate is to be avoided if not specifically labeled gluten-free.

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