What would you do if you cannot eat bread? How about not being able to eat cereals and waffles, or even noodles or muffins, can you manage all that? Be thankful if you do not have a wheat allergy.
Notice that the foods mentioned above are mostly everyday foods that contain wheat. So why is wheat such a common food allergen if it is found in such common foods?
What is in wheat that causes allergies?
Wheat gets into the body when wheat-containing food is ingested. Wheat can also enter the body when baking flour that contains wheat is inhaled, thus triggering allergic symptoms. This is also a reason why asthmatic symptoms inflict over 30 percent of those in the baking industry that work with wheat.
The immune system of those with a wheat allergy is hypersensitive to one of the proteins in wheat. Their body system reacts against the protein as if it were harmful. One of the main wheat protein allergens is gliadin, which is found in gluten, and people with a wheat allergy are sometimes recommended to eat a gluten-free diet.
What are the symptoms of a wheat allergy?
Allergic symptoms commonly begin within minutes or a few hours after eating the wheat-containing food. Symptoms manifest on the skin (rashes, hives, and eczema), in the digestive system (oral allergy syndrome, abdominal cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting), and in the respiratory system (asthma or allergic rhinitis). Anaphylaxis occurs in severe cases. Other gluten-containing cereals, such as rye, oats and barley, may also cause these symptoms due to cross-reactivity of the allergens.
What are the best ways to manage a wheat allergy?
Once a wheat allergy is triggered, treatment should follow immediately to prevent the condition to worsen. Most common medical treatments include bronchodilators such as epinephrine (given for severe allergic reactions); antihistamines such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl); and corticosteroids, a cream/ointment which reduces swelling and various symptoms of allergic skin reactions.
Although instead of allowing an allergic reaction to occur, why not just avoid eating anything that contains wheat or gluten? It is difficult but it can be done.
Avoid eating foods such as breads, bread crumbs, bran, cereals, baking powder, flour, croutons, battered or breaded products, baked goods, cookies, pastries, buns, cakes, muffins, doughnuts, crackers, biscuits, pizza, pasta, noodles, pretzels, pancake and waffle mixes, packet sauce mixes, seasonings, dressings, sauces, condiments, gravies, beer, vodka, gin, some baby foods, barley malt, bologna, sausages, liverwurst, hot dogs, candy, chocolate, cocoa, cold cuts, cream of wheat, dumplings, granola, ice cream, malt products, malted milk, MSG, pepper, puddings, soups, tortillas, wheat germ, and some yeasts that contain wheat or gluten. Check the labels to be sure, and watch out for ingredients such as wheat, bread crumbs, bran, cereal extract, couscous, cracker meal, enriched flour, gluten, high-gluten flour, high-protein flour, starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavoring, soy sauce, starch, and vegetable gum, among others, that may indicate wheat protein content.
Good thing there are a lot of alternatives such as wheat-free flours, breads, pastas, cookies, and other snacks that are available in supermarkets and health stores.
Substitutes for wheat include corn, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, amaranth, tapioca, arrowroot, gram flour, lentil flour, potato, oats, rye, barley, and soy.
If you think you have a wheat allergy, consult a healthcare professional for proper advice before you decide to change your diet.
Why is a wheat and gluten free diet necessary?
Individuals with a wheat allergy are recommended to eat a wheat and gluten free diet. It is not easy because most everyday foods such as cereals, waffles, noodles, and muffins, contain wheat. Gluten, the elastic, rubbery protein present in wheat, can also be found in rye, barley, and oats. It binds the dough in bread and other baked goods and contributes to its spongy consistency.
Not all foods that contain wheat contain gluten, which means that those with specific allergies to wheat gluten can tolerate some wheat-containing foods, as long as they do not contain gluten.
Gluten-free diets in particular are specifically prescribed to people with celiac disease, a hereditary disorder that results in damaged of the lining of the small intestine after ingesting wheat-containing food. However, it is more of an intolerance to gluten rather than an allergy.
How do you keep your diet wheat and gluten free?
Wheat-free products are not always gluten-free. Always look for a gluten-free or wheat-free label on the product, but check the ingredients yourself to be sure. Hidden sources of gluten can be included as additives such as modified food starch, preservatives, and stabilizers.
Ingredients such as wheat, bread crumbs, bran, cereal extract, couscous, cracker meal, enriched flour, gluten, high-gluten flour, high-protein flour, starch, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, natural flavoring, soy sauce, starch, and vegetable gum, among others, may also indicate wheat protein content.
You can substitute wheat with corn, millet, buckwheat, rice, quinoa, amaranth, tapioca, arrowroot, gram flour, bean flour, lentil flour, potato, oats, rye, barley, rice, and soy.
Good thing because health stores and some supermarkets already carry alternatives such as wheat-free and gluten-free flours, breads, pastas, cookies, and other snacks which are made from grains like soy, corn and rice.
Of course, foods such as plain meat, fish, rice, fruits, and vegetables do not contain wheat or gluten. So people with wheat allergies can eat as much of these foods as they like.
Consult a professional healthcare provider before changing your diet. Since wheat is a staple food and a primary source of dietary fiber, make sure you will still be getting the right amounts of nutrients from the food you eat.