> Is Wheat Intolerance Really Gluten Intolerance?
Is Wheat Intolerance Really Gluten Intolerance?
Have you noticed that there are many different terms that are used to describe negative reactions to wheat and gluten grains?
It can be confusing.
Likely the confusion will continue for a while.
The reasons why wheat, gluten grains (and also grains in general) can be a serious health concern for some people continues to be debated.
Some researchers feel that the growing number of people who seem to react adversely to wheat is partly due to changes in wheat in the last ~ 30 years.
Much of the wheat consumed today has been bred to be much higher in certain proteins.
Also, genetic modifications can do a lot of things to alter food in ways that we don’t fully understand yet. The wheat of today can be very different than the wheat of 30 years ago, and different from the wheat of a century ago, etc.
Ingredients that are wheat-based are also found in more processed foods now. Thus, exposure to gluten/wheat has increased for many people over the last few decades.
Combine this with anything that may damage health, including consuming unhealthy fats (See Is Butter Healthy? , Where to Buy Coconut Oil and Macadamia Nut Oil: Better than Olive Oil? ) and it’s easy to imagine why problems with wheat may have increased in recent decades.
Some researchers believe that wheat intolerance (and wheat allergy) are actually gluten intolerance.
Although a person may react more strongly and noticeably to wheat than wheat’s relatives like spelt and kamut, all “gluten grains” including rye and barley, are believed to be the problem.
If/when this is the case, after going ‘wheat-free’ a person may find that they continue to have symptoms that resemble the problems they had formerly associated with wheat only.
The symptoms may not be as strongly felt as they were with wheat, or obvious at first, but eventually such a person will likely run into this issue if it’s truly gluten intolerance. Eliminating all of the ‘gluten grains’ is an important next step if this is the case.
Wheat was the worst for me.
I could have assumed that I just had wheat intolerance. When I realised that wheat was a problem, I had stopped eating processed foods, and I was grinding organic wheat berries to make my own flour to create my own bread (so I couldn’t blame additives or processing for my reactions). After I dropped wheat I soon realised that I reacted to other gluten grains, including spelt and kamut, so I axed them too and finally felt a lot better. See Cure for Fibromyalgia?
What is Wheat Intolerance?
Wheat intolerance often refers to a “non-allergic” negative reaction to wheat. The symptoms of wheat intolerance are said to be less violent and immediate as they are with wheat allergy (see Wheat Allerg,y below), but definitely damaging to health. They won’t show up on the standard finger prick test and blood tests that look for allergic reactions.
Sometimes the symptoms of wheat intolerance manifest many hours or even days after eating foods or supplements that contain wheat. This makes wheat intolerance tricky to diagnose. Also, the symptoms won’t always manifest as digestive distress. Joint pain and skin problems could be what the person experiences, for example.
If you look up “wheat intolerance symptoms” online or “gluten intolerance symptoms” you’ll find lists that are long and varied and you might feel a bit suspicious. How can one food or group of foods do so many awful things?
Wheat may not be the horror for everyone that some people say that it is, but for a growing number of people, it seems to be problematic, and fortunately there are lots of tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare alternatives, which I cover on this site. For example, see Potatoes
Avoidance of wheat continues to be the preferred approach to deal with wheat intolerance.
Wheat allergy is often described as an immunological response to wheat. The allergy can be to any of the different proteins found in wheat and cereal grains related to wheat, such as kamut and spelt and triticale.
Symptoms vary, but they appear very quickly after ingesting wheat. Unlike intolerance, there’s a better chance that a finger prick test or blood test will identify them. Symptoms can be gastrointestinal, or respiratory (asthma), or affect the skin (hives, rashes, contact dermatitis). They can also manifest in something that resembles hay fever: runny nose, itchy eyes. Wheat allergy is sometimes called “baker’s allergy”, and in the worst cases is very dangerous because it can lead to anaphylaxis.
As with wheat intolerance, avoidance of wheat is best, but an allergy is easier to spot because of the immediate symptoms.
Read I wrote about wheat intolerance and apply it to all gluten grains, not just wheat. To learn more about what foods contain gluten, see Foods Containing Gluten
Avoiding all gluten grains is a good thing to test, if you know that you react to wheat. The hard part is that you may be reacting but you don’t know it yet. Perhaps, like I once did, you’re assuming that the problems you’re having aren’t from wheat/gluten. Testing can help you figure this out, and there are ways to do it for free. Please see Gluten Intolerance Testing