What is a Wheat Allergy?
👥 How common is it?
🌾 What is wheat?
Wheat has been consumed as a food for more than 10,000 years, and is the most important staple grain throughout history. Today, wheat accounts for the largest cropland area of any food and is the most common cereal crop grown in the UK.
The wheat kernel is made up of three different parts; endosperm, bran and germ. The endosperm makes up 83% of the kernel weight and contains protein, carbohydrates, fibre and iron, as well as B-vitamins: riboflavin, niacin, thiamin and folate. The bran makes up around 14% and contains dietary fibre, a small amount of protein, significant quantities of vitamin E, B-vitamins and minerals. The germ makes up the remaining part of the kernel and contains fat, minimal quantities of protein, B-vitamins and trace minerals.
Symptoms of Wheat Allergy
An individual with a wheat allergy can experience an immediate reaction (within minutes) or a delayed reaction (within hours) after consuming wheat products, and the symptoms can differ from person to person.
An immediate reaction can include symptoms such as hives, wheezing, and vomiting. A more delayed reaction, that can be developed over time, can include symptoms such as loose stools – which may contain blood, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, coughing or wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy skin rash – often around the mouth.
Although less common, some allergy sufferers are also at risk of having a potentially life-threatening anaphylaxis reaction. In extreme cases there could be a dramatic fall in blood pressure, the person may become weak and floppy, and may have a sense of something terrible is happening. This may lead to collapse and unconsciousness. On rare occasions, death can occur.
It is important to be able to recognize and manage reactions quickly in order to prevent serious health consequences. The first line of action for anaphylaxis is the timely use of epinephrine which is available by prescription in a self-injectable device.
If you are concerned that you or your child may have an allergy, you should consult with a medical professional or a Registered Nutritionist or Dietitian. If your child is diagnosed with an allergy, it’s important to inform all people involved in the child’s care. This includes their nursery, school, and after-school clubs, as well as grandparents, relatives, and the parents of their school friends.
Managing a Wheat Allergy
🛒 Store bought food
Wheat is likely to be found in: baking powder, breakfast cereals, pasta and noodles (unless specified), sauces, dips and dressings, bread & baked goods (unless specified wheat free), alcoholic drinks, and ready meals. It’s important to note that foods that are labelled as ‘Gluten Free’ may not be Wheat Free.
❌ Foods to avoid
Wheat is used in a variety of products. It can also be known as: Bran, bulgar, couscous, flour (plain, self raising, wholemeal, malted), semolina, wheat germ, cereal binder/filler, modified starch, durum wheat, farro and kamut/spelt.
❓Products that may also be problematic for people with a wheat allergy
Those who are allergic to wheat may also need to avoid rye and barley too as they contain similar proteins.
❗️It is advised to always ask your health practitioner before consuming any of these products as people’s sensitivity will vary.
✅ What replacements can I use?
There are many replacements for traditionally wheat-based foods. These include wheat-free flour blends, pasta, and bread. It’s important to check the labels though as some products labelled ‘Gluten Free’ may not be free from wheat.
- 🇺🇸 For more information on Wheat Allergy in the USA:
- 🇬🇧 For more information on Wheat Allergy in the UK:
Please note: This Spoon Guru Fact Sheet should be used as a source of information only. It should not be used as a replacement to nutritional advice from an accredited medical professional.