Allergic to pectin or citric acid, or are they contaminated with gluten?

by (16858) Updated February 17, 2014 at 9:06 AM Created December 03, 2013 at 12:05 PM

When I ingest wheat (and sometimes when I ingest cow dairy) I get a delayed allergic reaction at night in the form of acid reflux. The casein in cow dairy (even happens with hard cheeses, but never happens with sheep, goat, or buffalo dairy) usually has a very mild form of reflux, anything grain related (especially wheat or barley) has a bunch of symptoms including feeling cold, digestive upset, and very bad acid reflux in the middle of the night.

About a month ago I had a reflux reaction to Kirkland Organic Strawberry preserves - the ingredients seemed quite clean.

Last night I had some mustard with ham (no bread obviously), and had a really bad reflux reaction, the same kind I got from the strawberry preserves. The only ingredient in common these two had was the pectin and citric acid. Strangely enough both are labeled "fruit pectin." AFAIK, I've no reaction to citric acid.

Googling around I see references that pectin can be made from corn, but it's kind of weird that I would have the same reaction as I do to grains, when it's labeled "fruit pectin."

Then again, a quick google on citric acid likely points to it being the culprit over pectin (I've no problem with citrus fruit of course):

In the food industry, citric acid is used to add a tart note to foods or as a preservative. Most citric acid is manufactured by culturing a particular strain of the fungus Aspergillus niger. This fungus naturally occurs in soil and is the cause of black mold on certain fruits and vegetables. To produce citric acid, the Aspergillus culture is fed (and kept alive by) corn-derived sugar. Some individuals are allergic to citric acid due to the mold or the corn-derivative used to feed the culture.Symptoms of citric acid intolerance or allergy are gastrointestinal upset, abdominal pain and bloating, and ulcers in the mouth.

I'm wondering if other people have reactions to pectin or citric acid the same way they do to grains?

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0 · February 17, 2014 at 9:06 AM

@raydawg I'm a Coeliac. Mustards are quite hard to get gluten free and must state gluten free on the label as they don't have to state everything they use in the factory they made it - contamination can occur at a manufacture level where they use product lines for a multiple of food ranges. Here in the UK its really hard to get one outside a healthfood shop.

Also living with a messy teenagers means that he often contaminates my kitchen worktops, microwave plate and chopping boards. I have to always use a fresh plate from the drawer to use as a chopping board, my own butter and condiments that they are not allowed to use and I use the grill for toasting as the toaster is a nogo zone.

As you get more and more experiences with being zapped by gluten (even the smallest traces) you will get a bigger and bigger reaction. I know when i've had gluten as mouth alcers are the first sign, followed by vomitting, hormal irregularieis, stomach pains and loose stools - its not pretty.

It sounds as if you need at least a blood test for the antibodies suggesting Coeliac - don't mess around with this, it means a much higher chance of bowel cancers and other associated health issues such as diabetes, thryorid problems and joint issues. If you already have an autoimmue condition then your chances are quite high of being a Coeliac.

Your average doctor will not know about the other grains that can cause gluten-style reactions but some do mimic the gluten protien and the best place to learn about this is thepaleomom site and her book The Autoimmune Approach.

Best of luck!

237 · December 04, 2013 at 9:06 PM

If you are allergic to something, it sure isn't citric acid, if this was the case, you would be dead. Citric acid is an intermediate in the Krebs cycle (also known as the citric acid cycle) which is part of the metabolism of every single aerobic (oxygen-breathing) organism on earth. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid_cycle and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citric_acid

Fruit pectin is simply a soluble dietary fiber derived from apples or banana peels, so unless you are sensitive to apples and bananas, you should be fine.

Allergies are most commonly caused by proteins, both plant and animal proteins can be responsible. Maybe its something in the bread or dairy you are eating. The preserves naturally cause reflux because they are 45% sugar by weight (8g of sugar for every 18g serving) and are quite acidic.

2297 · December 04, 2013 at 1:31 AM

Well corn intolerance is way past the advanced course - it is Phd level! It isn't labeled because it isn't one of the top 8 allergens, which makes it tricky. Hopefully, the Paleo diet and improvements in intestinal permeability will clear this intolerance up. In the meantime, here's a start. http://cornallergygirl.com/2013/08/15/dont-panic-a-beginners-guide-to-corn-allergy/

Of course, you're so eating so little processed food, that's a big help too. Here's to your health!

---edited to fix typo

2297 · December 03, 2013 at 3:05 PM

Is anyone else using those condiments? If their knife touches their bread and then touches the mustard.... Even a squeeze bottle can be contaminated if it touches the bread.

In general, if you need specific "is it GF" info, you need to be talking to the celiac support forums. Paleohacks is a great resource, but strict GF living is the advanced course, so to speak.

Also, if you're reacting at that level, some official diagnosis may be helpful in the future if should ever be in an accident and require GF food or meds in a hospital. Also, your relatives should be tested periodically.

Some celiacs do report having trouble with citric acid, but also consider the corn angle and/or sulfites. Here is some info on citric acid intolerance:


Good luck with your research; update us.

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