Wheat allergies affect one in seven people in North America. Wheat allergies are actually quite rare, and exist in less than ½% of the population in North America. However, common allergies to wheat are caused directly by a complex protein found in wheat called gluten.
Gluten can be found in oats, rye, barley and wheat and can be described as a sticky protein substance that is hard to digest. In approximately 15% of North Americans, gluten causes a disruptive effect on the digestive system which ultimately produces toxins, gas and bloating. Wheat contains the highest amount of gluten of all grains and is the most common source of digestive issues. This condition is known as wheat intolerance. It is not uncommon for people to have wheat intolerance or even allergies but no issues eating or digesting other grains such as oats, barley or rye.
Keep in mind that if you have wheat allergies, you did not do anything to cause it. The condition is not like onset diabetes. It is a combination of food processing, genetics, and your body's tolerance of gluten. In general, humans have not evolved as quickly as the agricultural processed for growing high yield wheat grains and the new wheat hybrids being harvested are difficult for certain people to break down and properly digest the complex gluten protein in these high yield wheat grains.
It can be very difficult to diagnose wheat allergies, and often is a process that involves a lot of trial and error. There are some common symptoms of wheat allergies including body stiffness, mood swings and depression, abdominal swelling and bloating, cramps and nausea, runny nose and eyes and rashes. I know what you are thinking -these symptoms could describe any one of a hundred illnesses or conditions. That is why wheat allergies are so hard to diagnose. One of the only ways known to arrive at a true diagnosis is to exclude different grains and glutens from your diet slowly over several weeks and keep track of which symptoms disappear or dissipate and which remain. The foods are then reintroduced to see if previous symptoms return.
The cure for wheat allergies is simply abstinence. A wheat-free diet will clear up all symptoms and side effects quickly, and without the need for drugs or chemical therapy. Sufferers who have gone on a wheat or gluten free diet feel drastically better in a few weeks, than they have reported felt in years.
As wheat allergies have garnered increased attention from the press and the medical community, it should be noted that they have often been confused with irritable bowel syndrome, which is caused directly by stress, poor diet and lack of exercise. It should also be stated that Celiac disease, which is a serious condition that presents as damage to the small intestine due to prolonged intolerance to gluten, is a rare condition and not all people with wheat intolerance will develop Celiac disease.
If you think you are suffering from wheat allergy, talk to your doctor and do extensive research on your own to be sure that your symptoms are diagnosed properly.