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Do Your Symptoms Indicate a Wheat Allergy? Here's What to Do

 A person holding a loaf of wheat breadBread, pancakes, waffles, muffins... wheat products, and commercials advertising the virtues of these products, are everywhere in our culture. Yet many of us experience a feeling of lethargy after eating anything containing wheat. You may assume it is due to being full, but it could be from a wheat allergy or sensitivity.

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a wheat allergy. But fatigue is not the only symptom associated with a wheat allergy. Other symptoms may also manifest. This is why finding out whether you have this issue and how to cope may not only increase your energy levels but also your quality of life.

Symptoms Associated With a Wheat Allergy

Many wheat allergy symptoms manifest shortly after you have consumed a product containing wheat. You may not, however, necessarily show all these symptoms or the same combination as someone else.

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal Pain
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rashes, hives, or a flushed face
  • Swelling of the tongue, throat, eyes, and/or lips
  • A drop in blood pressure
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Psychological effects like anxiety, depression, and feelings of distress
  • Anemia

Anaphylaxis could also occur in some people, where the body goes into a state of shock. This condition leads to unconsciousness and even death in some cases.

What Is a Wheat Allergy?

A wheat allergy is an allergic reaction to foods containing wheat. Like all allergic reactions, this one occurs when your body sees wheat as a threat, activates the immune system, and produces antibodies to proteins founds in the wheat. Allergic reactions can be caused by eating wheat and, in some cases, by inhaling wheat flour.

It is important to note that this is different from celiac disease. In this condition, your body has an autoimmune reaction, attacking its own cells, to one specific wheat protein: gluten. However, some people could have both a wheat allergy and celiac disease.

When your immune system produces antibodies to the proteins in wheat and attacks them to remove whatever it sees as a threat, your inflammatory response also kicks in. Both your immune and inflammatory responses are part of your body’s automatic NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response governed by your Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis.

Health Conditions Affected by Inflammation

For someone with a wheat allergy, constant wheat consumption may result in a constant inflammatory response which, ultimately, could become chronic. Once chronic inflammation sets in, you set yourself up for a whole range of possible health issues. Some of the health issues linked to chronic inflammation include, amongst others:

  • Autoimmune conditions like fibromyalgia, Lupus, and celiac disease
  • Asthma
  • Stroke
  • Autism
  • Premature aging
  • Acid reflux
  • Susceptibility to certain infections (viral, bacterial, fungal)
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Skin issues like psoriasis and acne
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic pain
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diabetes
  • Heart diseases
  • High blood pressure

Many of the symptoms associated with a wheat allergy and the health issues mentioned above are also linked to adrenal fatigue. This is because of the complexity of adrenal fatigue, as well as its effect on various pathways throughout the body.

Wheat Allergy and Inflammation in the Gut

 A person suffering from gastrointestinal painThe bodily systems most directly involved in the Inflammation circuit include the immune system, gastrointestinal tract, and microbiome. Most inflammatory issues start in the gut. And often, so does your body’s reaction to wheat because it is usually ingested.

Your gut lining’s permeability allows certain substances to pass through and enter your bloodstream. This is normal and distributes essential nutrients to various parts of the body.

An inflammatory response to wheat, however, could cause distress to your gut lining, resulting in an increase in gut permeability. This also results in allergic reactions and certain toxins making their way to the brain and other body organs and systems. This could result in depression and brain fog.

Along with an increase in gut lining permeability, your gut’s microbiome may also be affected. This could lead to either diarrhea or constipation.

Diarrhea may worsen the change in your gut microbiome, resulting in your gut having less beneficial bacteria than needed to maintain a balance. Severe diarrhea is often associated with advanced adrenal exhaustion. You should always talk to a healthcare practitioner when experiencing severe diarrhea as it could lead to dehydration and other health issues, including adrenal crashes.

Food allergies are also often associated with constipation, a condition that likewise usually manifests during the latter stages of adrenal fatigue. Here, your digestion slows down in a bid to conserve energy. In time, however, your body experiences a buildup of toxins because of a lack of proper elimination. This results in a compromised GI tract and not enough acid produced for breaking down foods for nutrient assimilation. Your inflammatory response also increases. This could increase the severity of symptoms.

Are Wheat Sensitivities Increasing?

People have consumed wheat and wheat products for thousands of years without developing wheat allergies. So why does the number of people with this type of allergy seem to be on the increase?

The answer most likely lies with current farming practices.

To get a product that grows faster, that can survive in more difficult environmental conditions, and to increase harvest size, wheat has been cross-bred with other proteins. Add to this how wheat is processed to become more water-soluble so that it can be mixed with other ingredients, and the result is a product far different from what people consumed a hundred years ago. We also consume much more wheat than our forefathers ever did because it is often added to many processed foods. As a result, an ever-increasing percentage of people develop wheat allergies.

Who Is Most at Risk of Developing Wheat Allergies?

Babies and toddlers are most at risk of developing this type of allergy. This is because of their immature immune systems and still-developing digestive systems. Most outgrow their allergies by the time they reach age 16.

Adults can also develop a wheat allergy at any time, especially if they are sensitive to grass pollen. But a family history of allergic reactions to food, especially wheat, also adds to your risk of developing this type of allergy.

How to Find Out If You Have a Wheat Allergy

Fortunately, finding out if you have a wheat allergy is not that difficult. The process involves seeing a healthcare professional, undergoing a physical exam that looks at your symptoms, and from there, may include a test or the use of diagnostic tools.

Blood Test

 A person getting their blood drawnA blood test screens whether you have antibodies to allergens to wheat proteins.

Skin Test

This is the most common test. Allergens, pricked onto your forearm or upper back, will show whether you have an allergic reaction within about fifteen minutes. If you are allergic to wheat, the prick associated with wheat will develop into a red, itchy lump.

Elimination Diet

The elimination diet is one whereby you remove those foods commonly associated with allergic reactions from your diet. You then gradually add these foods back into your diet and note the state of your health. If you get a reaction after consuming a newly introduced food, it strongly indicates you may have an allergic reaction to it.

Food Challenge

When it comes to food challenge testing, you eat a small amount of the food suspected of causing your allergic reaction. This is done under close medical supervision. If you show a negative reaction, the particular food consumed may be causing your allergy or sensitivity.

Food Diary

Keeping a food diary requires discipline. Here, you keep a detailed record of everything you consume, as well as when symptoms develop. Usually, you keep track of all this for a pre-determined time period.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing unfortunately only tests your proclivity towards a gluten reaction. Gluten is only one of the different proteins found in wheat. It is thus, not a test that can accurately determine whether you have a wheat allergy.

How to Cope With Wheat Allergies

Certain drugs may help address the symptoms associated with a wheat allergy. Antihistamines, for example, may address the itchiness or swelling, while anaphylactic drugs like epinephrine may address anaphylactic symptoms. However, these drugs are just a bandaid and do not address the underlying issue.

Avoid Wheat

The best course of action is avoiding foods containing wheat. These include pasta, bread, pastries, noodles, cereals, crackers, biscuits, and malt beverages. But this is not enough, because wheat is added to many foods. Thus, you will need to get in the habit of reading the labels before purchasing food and check a list of the many other names wheat can be disguised under.

Diet

When looking at your diet, choose foods that boost your immune system and don't cause an inflammatory response. Good food choices include, amongst others, organically raised lean protein, and organically grown fresh fruit and vegetables. Also, consider fermented foods that help address gut bacterial imbalances and those high in fiber. Fiber supports healthy digestive function and toxin removal.

Sleep

Your body needs sleep to heal itself. Therefore, try to get at least eight hours of sleep every night if possible. If sleep is an issue, consider:

  • doing breathing exercises for relaxation
  • using natural supplements that promote sleep and relaxation
  • keeping your bedroom cool and dark
  • removing electrical appliances from the bedroom including your cellphone

If considering supplements, please do so with the guidance of a healthcare professional. Natural supplements may interfere with the function of medications or may not be suitable for your particular stage of adrenal fatigue if suffering from the condition.

Exercise

Exercise could increase your energy levels, help with fatigue and sleep issues, and help stimulate the production of "happy" hormones in your brain. This can have a calming effect on your whole system, including your inflammatory response.

Do make sure the form of exercise is gentle though. A walk, for instance, or doing yoga does not put as great a strain on your body as weightlifting, for example.

Reduce Stress

Stress of any kind only serves to increase your inflammatory response and the symptoms of your condition. A wheat allergy causes stress in your body. Psychological stress, such as from your work environment for example, only worsens things. So, as far as possible, try to limit your psychological stress.

While you may not be able to take yourself out of a stressful situation, you could implement ways of dealing with it. This includes taking some "me" time to solely focus on your needs. This could mean reading a book, going for a walk, or starting a new hobby. You could also reduce stress by making time for your family or friends, or even doing something for others like volunteering to read to children at a library or helping at a soup kitchen.

Supplements

A wheat allergy may trigger an inflammatory response or result from it. This means your body may need help reducing inflammation. Many natural supplements fight inflammation and are quite safe to use in most instances.

Supplements that fight inflammation include curcumin, fish oil (Omega-3 fatty acids), ginger, resveratrol, green tea, and zinc. Once again, however, only consider supplements with the advice of a healthcare practitioner who can determine its suitability and dosage.

In Closing

If you believe you suffer from a wheat allergy, here are a few things you can do to alleviate the situation.

  1. A person rejecting the toast for a healthier choiceSee your healthcare professional about the issue and discuss the possibility of testing.
  2. Reduce or eliminate wheat and products containing wheat from your diet.
  3. Consider making dietary and lifestyle changes and taking a natural supplement that supports immune health and lower your inflammatory response.

If considering a supplement, once again, please do so with the guidance of your healthcare professional who will assess a supplement’s benefits for you as well as recommending the correct dosage.

If you would like to know more about or need assistance with a wheat allergy, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free** no-obligation phone consultation at +1-626-571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2021 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Yes, a wheat allergy does affect adrenal fatigue. It causes an immune and inflammatory response that could further negatively impact already overburdened adrenal glands and their function. It is a good idea to talk to a healthcare practitioner if you have adrenal fatigue and suspect a wheat allergy.

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