A wheat and gluten free diet is not a way to lose weight. It is actually a way to avoid triggering symptoms of a wheat allergy in a number of individuals.
What is a wheat allergy?
A wheat allergy is caused by an immune system reaction to one of the proteins in wheat, including albumin, globulin, gliadin, and glutenin (gluten). Allergic reactions to wheat may be triggered by ingestion of wheat-containing foods or by inhalation of flour containing wheat.
Symptoms manifest as skin rashes, hives, eczema, oral allergy syndrome, abdominal cramps, indigestion, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. Anaphylaxis occurs in severe cases.
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?
If you are on a wheat and gluten free diet, avoid eating foods such as breads, bread crumbs, bran, cereals, baking powder, flour, croutons, rye, 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.
However, 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.