Symptoms, diagnosis and diet with wheat allergy
Should the consumption of foods containing wheat cause symptoms in your gastrointestinal area, or if your skin reacts with excruciating itching and rash, you could suffer from a wheat allergy!
What is a wheat allergy?
We must differentiate a hypersensitivity against wheat as such from gluten intolerance or pollen allergy.
After eating, individual protein components of the wheat, namely albumin and globulin, trigger a reaction of the immune system.
We can find these two elements in the outer grain shell while gluten, and its gluten protein, occurs in the flour body.
This recognizes the wheat protein in the intestine as a supposed enemy that needs to be fought. So the intestines form antibodies, which leads to inflammatory processes.
The immune system begins to work against itself to a certain extent due to a misdirection.
Allergic reactions usually occur quite immediately after eating wheat, but can also take a few hours or only, as a late reaction, occur 24 to 48 hours after contact with the allergen.
The symptoms of the immune reaction can vary in severity
Wheat is considered to be very allergenic, so it triggers an allergy relatively. For example, we all have heard of the so-called “baker’s allergy”. Here, the inhalation of flour dust can cause asthma or chronic colds.
Wheat allergy is more common in children than in adults
This is also due to the fact that such an allergy can also wear out in children (e.g. by maturing the immune system).
If the allergy only occurs in adulthood (often due to hormonal changes or the like), the probability increases that it will persist.
How does a hypersensitivity to wheat manifest itself?
The symptoms can vary, and they also depend on the age of the person affected.
While babies and children, for example, show increased reactions to the skin, signs in the digestive area come first in adults. The time span of the appearance of symptoms can also differ.
The most common signs include:
Lack of (micro)nutrients (especially with persistent diarrhea)
Skin reactions such as rashes, hives and itching
As mentioned at the beginning, protein components in wheat trigger an immune reaction (allergy).
The exact causes of allergies are still not fully understood scientifically.
What is certain is that a genetic component has an influence. Children of allergy sufferers are significantly more likely to develop allergies themselves.
How do you diagnose a wheat hypersensitivity?
In children, one can usually quickly diagnose an allergy to wheat, since the symptoms usually show up quite strongly in the form of skin changes. Rashes, for example, make an allergy test seem obvious.
If a reaction to wheat occurs in adults, symptoms in the area of the gastrointestinal tract are more important. These can only show up a few hours after consuming wheat-containing foods.
In any case, it is important to differentiate the allergy from a whole range of food intolerances.
Doctors often confuse wheat allergy with celiac disease, which has the consequence that therapeutic approaches also mix.
One has to avoid several types of cereals in celiac disease, while gluten-free products can cause symptoms of wheat hypersensitivity, since manufacturers can add starch to the products.
Keeping a complaint diary and excluding other intolerances make for a first step to the correct diagnosis.
In the end, a blood test determines the result. The presence of special antibodies against wheat proteins confirms the allergy.
Unfortunately, no herb has grown against wheat allergy! This means that drug therapy does not work. In order to effectively stop suffering from symptoms, one must strictly avoid wheat-containing foods.
One should also leave out wheat-like cereals, such as spelt, kamut (aka khorasan wheat), einkorn and green spelt.
Since wheat is one of the most popular types of grain and widely grows worldwide, manufacturers include it in many products. Another tricky part here: It often serves as a binder or carrier for flavors.
This means that wheat can also appear in foods that are not generally accepted (sausages, canned soups, candied fruit, etc.).
In any case, I advice you to absorb as much nutritional advice as possible to develop a feeling for what you can eat without regret.
This, furthermore, aids you to learn and instinctively know what foods require more attention.
You should avoid the following foods if you are allergic to wheat or check the ingredients thoroughly:
Various types of bread and pastries
Pies, cakes and other confectionery
Meat and sausages
Ready-made soups and soup cubes
Sauces and spices/spice mixes
Various ready-made products (ready-made vegetables, mashed potatoes, etc)
Snacks such as potato chips
Various chocolate and muesli bars, ice cream, drinking chocolate
Fortunately, with a wheat allergy a number of other types of cereals exist that you can easily incorporate into the menu and can, thus, replace wheat:
Attention: cross-reactions could possibly occur with barley, oats and rye!
Alternative flour for cooking and baking is also commercially available:
Locust bean gum
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