Wheat Intolerance: What You Need To Know | Allergy Test

Wheat is a common ingredient in most of the foods we consume daily. Even though wheat intolerance isn’t as alarming or severe as wheat allergy, if left untreated it can cause lots of problems to your gastrointestinal tract. Avoiding wheat can be difficult at first because most baked goods contain wheat, but once you’ve adopted a wheat-free meal plan, you will get used to it. These days most people are avoiding wheat because of gluten sensitivity – luckily supermarkets have adapted to this and there is a wide range of gluten-free foods available now.

Wheat is a complex grain. When you’re sensitive to wheat, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the gluten in wheat that you’re reacting to. Wheat has around 27 other components that could be causing your sensitivity. For some people, amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs) may be what’s causing wheat intolerance symptoms. ATIs make up 4% of wheat. Wheat uses these proteins to fight pesticides and ward off meal bugs or any other invaders. ATIs can also cause GI symptoms when you eat wheat and are sensitive. That is why when you are wheat intolerant, you don’t have to go gluten-free but instead need to cut off wheat from your diet.

 

Wheat intolerance vs. gluten intolerance

Most people find it difficult to differentiate between wheat and gluten intolerance because the two seem to be put under the same umbrella terms.

Gluten is a protein present in most grains like wheat, bulgar, barley, spelt, etc. Gluten intolerance and wheat intolerance are different terms that most people use interchangeably. One thing that makes people confuse one for the other is the symptoms and how similar they are in both intolerance cases.

Gluten intolerance refers to you being intolerant to all grains that contain gluten. So, when you’re gluten intolerant, your diet is more limited than someone with wheat intolerance. Wheat intolerance refers to being intolerant to proteins present in wheat. So, when you’re wheat intolerant, you can consume other grains like barley, rye, and spelt. But when you are gluten intolerant, you can’t consume these grains, nor can you consume wheat.

Gluten intolerance is more complicated because it is divided into two categories:

  • Celiac disease is when the body attacks its cells after you’ve consumed gluten. By attacking itself, it destroys the lining of the small intestines preventing the absorption of nutrients.
  • Non-celiac gluten sensitivity involves intestinal and extra-intestinal symptoms following the ingestion of gluten {1}.

 

Wheat intolerance symptoms

Wheat intolerance symptoms often damage the small intestines resulting in various symptoms. The signs of wheat intolerance include:

  • Joint pain
  • Headache
  • Legarthy or malaise
  • Easy bruising
  • Muscle cramping
  • Wheat intolerance rash
  • Weight Loss

Gastrointestinal symptoms include:

  • Stomach pain or cramping
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Excessive gas
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating

Even though the above symptoms may not seem serious, you may need to talk to a doctor. Rarely is wheat intolerance life-threatening; however, when symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting persist, they may lead to dehydration. Wheat intolerance gas is often a result of the carbohydrates in wheat. Some people aren’t able to break down wheat carbohydrates which lead to gas {2}.

 

Causes of wheat intolerance

Even though anyone can develop wheat intolerance, a few risk factors mainly result in wheat intolerance. Also, having these risk factors doesn’t mean you will automatically build wheat intolerance, it only means that your chances of developing it are higher. These include:

  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Down syndrome
  • Being of northern Europe descent
  • Female gender
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Microscopic colitis
  • Family history of celiac disease
  • Turner syndrome

 

Wheat Intolerance treatment

The first step to treating wheat intolerance is by getting an Intolerance Test. Once you’re sure that you’re intolerant to wheat and not gluten, you will have to eliminate all wheat products from your diet. It can be easy to mistake wheat intolerance for gluten intolerance, and that’s why we recommend you take a test first.

Since many people suffer from gluten intolerance, it has become easy to find foods that don’t contain wheat, especially baked goods. These alternatives will help you keep away the annoying wheat intolerance symptoms you’ve been experiencing.

 

Is there a wheat intolerance test?

Our Food Intolerance Test Kit

Symptoms of wheat intolerance are much less life-threatening than those of an allergy or coeliac disease. However, these symptoms still interfere with one’s quality of life and can be very unpleasant. Talk to your doctor about how you feel. If they disqualify any underlying medical conditions, then it’s safe for you to take an Intolerance Test.

Taking an intolerance test will check for the most common food intolerances, wheat being among them. With this simple home-lab test, you will be able to identify foods causing your intolerance symptoms, be it wheat, gluten, or other foods.

 

Foods to avoid with wheat intolerance

Wheat is a common ingredient used in thickening and bulking flours. It is also present in various processed foods, including soups, meats, and sauces. When you’re suffering from wheat intolerance, you should avoid:

  • Pasta, couscous, gnocchi, and filled pasta
  • Wheat-based baked goods like doughnuts, pies, bread, and pastries
  • Cereals and crackers
  • Fried, breaded chicken, fish, or other deep-fried foods
  • Processed meats
  • Condiments, salsa dressings, gravies, and sauces

It can be challenging to identify which ingredients have wheat when looking at food packaging. Some packages use names that make it difficult to locate and avoid wheat. So, you will need to avoid:

  • Durum
  • Bulgur
  • Farro
  • Kamut
  • Emmer
  • Einkorn
  • Spelt
  • Semolina
  • Wheatgrass
  • Sprouted wheat
  • Flour like enriched Graham, all-purpose, high-protein pastry)
  • Wheat (germ, bran, gluten, grass, malt, starch)

 

Wheat intolerance food alternatives

Wheat is an excellent part of a diet. To ensure you get in your fiber and carbohydrates, you can supplement your meals with a variety of wheat alternatives that include:

  • Corn
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Amaranth

 

Does a wheat intolerance diet help?

According to research, indulging in a wheat-free diet will help you overcome wheat intolerance symptoms. When checking labels in processed foods, you will need to be careful and always inform your host or chef when you’re not making your meals. Even though the signs of wheat intolerance may not be severe, they are still uncomfortable to deal with.

Doctors often recommend that you need to get tested for celiac disease first if you think you have a wheat intolerance. If you test negative for celiac disease, you can opt for an Intolerance Test to check for wheat intolerance. Most of the time, you will find that it is wheat intolerance that you’re suffering from or other food intolerances. Of course, even with such a premium test, it is not possible to determine which part of the wheat you may be intolerant to, so you’ll need to avoid anything with wheat.

 

Final thoughts on wheat intolerance

Even though you may find it hard at first to cut out wheat from your diet, with some practice, you will be able to come up with a grocery list of foods that don’t contain wheat. If you have the symptoms of wheat intolerance but haven’t yet tested, you need to get your Intolerance Test today. Ensure your doctor disqualifies first celiac disease or any other underlying conditions. If there aren’t any other issues that could be causing the symptoms, you can now take a test, and after you’ve sent your sample back to the lab, you’ll get your results within a week. You can always discuss with your doctor after you’ve had your results, then see how you can work together to make your body tolerate wheat. But before you start that process, you’ll need to cut off wheat for at least twelve weeks officially.

 

About the Author.

Kate Young joined Healthy Stuff in 2021 as our Laboratory Manager. Whilst working in embryology, Kate worked on 14 different publications including, ‘trophectoderm biopsy and human blastocyst development’, and talked at the ‘European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’. Kate is a trusted member of the Healthy Stuff team and her attention to detail ensures that each test is in safe hands and able to be validated. Kates enjoys working with the management team and has a close relationship with her lab team. See Kates Healthy Stuff profile here.

 

References

  1. Guandalini, Stefano, and Isabel Polanco. “Nonceliac gluten sensitivity or wheat intolerance syndrome?.” The Journal of pediatrics 166, no. 4 (2015): 805-811. Source: https://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(14)01208-6/fulltext
  2. Gas in the Digestive Tract. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Source: https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/gas-in-the-digestive-tract