Coffee and Gluten: Say It Isn’t So

Today I read a very sad sentence. From the Perfect Health Diet post Around the Web; PaleoFX Edition:

Warning: Dr Clark says that coffee is bad for people with gluten sensitivity, due to cross-reactive antibodies.

Say it isn’t so. This is the video of Dr. Clark explaining how people with gluten issues, like myself, could also have issues with the protein in coffee.

(original video removed. Updated video here)

From the video:

Ten percent of coffee is a protein that cross-reacts with gluten antibodies.

I like coffee. I like coffee a lot. Some might say that INeedCoffee. It would really suck if the protein in coffee was negatively impacting my health. There are strong similarities between the headaches I get after gluten exposure and my late night sinus headaches.

The Protein

The important take away I got from the video was that the problem was with the protein, not the caffeine. I would assume this means the problem exists with decaf coffee as well. Why is that important? Two reasons come to mind.

  1. During my 2 week test with no coffee in September 2011, I drank decaf coffee.
  2. To test for a sensitivity to a protein requires a 30 day elimination. Like I did for casein and gluten independently.

This means I need to redo my coffee detox test. Only this time it needs to go a full 30 days and I can’t drink any decaf. The goods news is that I can drink all the tea I want. Dr. Clark responded to a question regarding tea in the comments of the video.

Green Teas is not? a cross reactor…caffeine is not the cross reacting compound. It’s the protein in Coffee…

Espresso vs Brewed Coffee

Did you know that the nutritional outcome of coffee varies based upon how it is brewed? That is what I learned back in 2009. I shared what I found the article Black Coffee and Espresso – Not Calorie Free.

Digging further into the data I noticed that brewed coffee has 0.3g of protein. Protein has 4 calories per gram. This would give the brewed coffee 1.2 calories. That is some conservative rounding. Espresso is listed with no protein.

I went back to the CalorieKing website and it now reads that espresso has less than 0.1 gram of protein. Brewed coffee has 0.3 grams per 8 oz. Why is this relevant? Over the past few years I have become almost exclusively an espresso drinker. When I do have brewed coffee, I feel worse. I always assumed it was because brewed coffee has more caffeine. However, when I think back to when I had brewed coffee it was always just tastes at Coffee Cuppings or samples from brewing demos. I almost never would sit down with a full mug of regular coffee. If I did, I often would get headaches. Interesting.

Time For Another Test

Only a test will tell me the answer. I’m going to start scaling back on my coffee again in preparation for a full 30 Days Without Coffee experiment. This is going to be my toughest experiment yet.


Add yours

  1. Interesting – I did not know that there were proteins in coffee in the first place….

  2. Just yesterday I was wondering why coffee upsets my digestion immediately, whereas cacao doesn’t (couldn’t be the roasting process).
    Or are coffee and cacao similar in their protein profile ?

  3. @Michael – It appears dry cacao has more protein, but my guess is it is different than the protein found in coffee.

  4. I used to drink coffee everyday as part of my routine. Then i relegated myself to only drinking coffee on weekend, then Sundays, and now some weekends I don’t drink coffee at all. So try a staggered weaning off.

  5. @MAS:
    Right; different genuses, different continents – and one is a laxative (for me), one the opposite.

  6. @thomas – I did a slow stagger last summer when the focus was on the caffeine in coffee.

    This detox will be much faster paced, as the focus is on the coffee protein, so I will ramp up my tea intake. My plan is to drop coffee levels down to zero as early as the start of April.

  7. This article isn’t directly related to this post, but it is about coffee so I thought it was somewhat relevant.

    Have you ever tried mixing butter into your coffee? Do you think the increased fat intake would have any effect on how your body processes it?

  8. @Becca – I follow the BPE site and have tried his recipe. I’ll hold my opinion for a future blog post. 🙂

  9. +1 on the cacao.

    Just remember a coffee addiction seems far bigger than it actually is. In other words, there are plenty of things in the world that are much harder to do (e.g., learning a foreign language, raising a child, being in love).

  10. @Txomin – I’ve broken 3 hard habits in the past year, which is giving me more confidence to tackle the coffee detox than I’ve ever had before.

  11. There are no references on his blog and I’ve done a pubmed search and can’t find any documentation to support this. I am not a patient of Dr. Clarks, nor am I a blogger that can provide publicity for him, but perhaps you could contact the doctor and find out which research he used for this conclusion.
    I understand that you are trying self experimentation to find out if this correct, and I am all in favor of that. I would just like my own self experimentation to be based on a little more than one doctor’s claim without supporting documentation.

  12. @Jill – You may be right. Two other people have since told me that there are no legit references to his claim.

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