> Is Wheat Intolerance Really Gluten Intolerance?
Is Wheat Intolerance Really Gluten Intolerance?
Different terms are used to describe negative reactions to wheat and gluten grains.
It can be confusing.
Some researchers believe that more people are reacting adversely to wheat now because wheat has changed in the last ~ 30 years. For example, most of the wheat consumed today is much higher in certain proteins thanks to deliberate breeding and genetic modification.
Ingredients that are wheat-based are found in more processed foods now, thus exposure to gluten/wheat has increased for many people over the last few decades.
Combine that 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.
Some people react more noticeably to wheat than wheat’s relatives like spelt and kamut, but all “gluten grains” including rye and barley can be problematic if gluten is the issue. If this is the case, a person who tries a wheat-free diet instead of a gluten-free diet will continue to have symptoms.
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 too, including spelt and kamut, so I axed them and the results were surprising. 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 often said to be less violent and immediate than the symptoms of wheat allergy (see Wheat Allergy below). They won’t show up on the standard finger prick and blood tests designed to diagnose 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 can be symptoms, 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’s problematic. Fortunately there are lots of tasty, inexpensive and easy to prepare alternatives that 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, 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 notably), 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 it’s very dangerous resulting in anaphylaxis.
As with wheat intolerance, avoidance of wheat and often it’s relatives is best if a person has wheat allergy.
Take what I described about wheat intolerance and apply it to all gluten grains, not just wheat, to understand gluten intolerance. To learn more about foods that contain gluten see Foods Containing Gluten
Avoiding all gluten grains is a good thing to experiment with if you know that you react to wheat. Sometimes if you’re reacting it will be subtle, or you won’t realize that your ailments are connected like I didn’t when I had fibromyalgia. Testing can help you figure out if you’re gluten intolerant or not, and fortunately there are ways to do that for free. Please see Gluten Intolerance Testing.