You may have heard or read that sensitivity to wheat can cause a variety of health problems, and you heard right! Approximately one out of seven people are sensitive to wheat products.
To begin with, there are three main categories of problems associated with wheat consumption.
Celiac Disease: This is actually a true allergic response (immunologic response) to a specific protein in wheat called gluten. There is currently no cure for this condition. Although intestinal damage an occur, this damage is reversible, and healing generally occurs when wheat gluten is excluded from the diet.
Wheat Allergy: This refers to an allergy to any of the many proteins in wheat including wheat gluten. Individuals with wheat allergy also react to related grains such as barley, rye, and oatmeal. This is different from Celiac Disease which is a reaction only to the gluten.
Wheat intolerance: This is generally not considered an allergenic reaction to wheat. It is not usually as sudden or severe as a true allergy, and generally manifests as a low grade and chronic condition.
I will now focus on only wheat intolerance for the remainder of this article. Many authorities believe that approximately one out of seven people suffer from wheat intolerance. this condition can be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms are so varied and occur up to days after ingesting wheat products. Technically wheat intolerance is an allergic response, but a different part of the immune system is involved than with the true wheat allergies.
Some of the symptoms of wheat intolerance are:
- Stomach bloating, stomach cramping, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation
- Chronic fatigue
- Emotional difficulties
- Low resistance to infection
- Skin rashes, itchy and/or flaky skin, psoriasis, eczema
- Food cravings
It is believed by many authorities that our genetic makeup has not evolved as rapidly as agriculture has, and therefore many people just cannot digest the complex molecular proteins (including gluten) in grain crops such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats. Prior to the agricultural raising of grain crops, we ate mostly meat, vegetables, and fruits. The only known way to avoid the effects of wheat intolerance is to avoid wheat products.