Paula found that the type of wheat now grown has much higher gluten content than wheat grown before the 1950’s and is considerably harder for the body to digest. Also as a population we are consuming higher than ever quantities of wheat for example in pizzas, pasta, cakes, sandwiches, pastry etc. and wheat is a hidden ingredient of many products such as sauces (eg. soya sauce or mustard) and crisps, or as a bulking agent in the guise as modified starch. It is common for nutritionists to now advise people with health problems to cut our wheat from their diet.
True wheat allergy is rare and often confused with intolerance – an allergy is a serious and abnormal reaction triggered by the immune system whereby immunoglobulin E (IgE) is produced which causes the release of histamine which produces the allergic symptoms. Symptoms tend to be quick to materialize and can be extremely serious such as oedema (swelling of lips and tongue), skin rash or in most extreme and rare cases fatal anaphylaxis. A blood test will detect the presence of IgE and indicate clearly whether a true allergy is suffered.
An intolerance is not an immunological response but can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, migraine, diarrhoea and skin rash or itchy skin. It can also sometimes worsen conditions such as asthma and eczema.
Cutting out wheat from the diet is crucial for resolving the symptoms of wheat allergy or intolerance, however wheat flour contains important amounts of calcium, iron, niacin and thiamin. It is therefore critical to replace the nutrients eliminated when cutting out wheat. Alternatives include rice, maize, barley, rye, millet, potato and soya.