Runny nose and eyes, sneezing, tiredness, skin rashes or irritations, change in bowel movements from constipation to diarrhoea, itchy red eyes, weight-gain/weight-loss, stomach cramps? These symptoms may lead you to think you have intolerance to wheat or gluten. So what exactly is the difference between the two?
Gluten is a protein, which can be found in many cereals such as oats, wheat, barley, spelt, etc. Gluten gives bread and other bakery products structure, elasticity and chewiness. The degree of intolerance for individuals varies from mild reactions to severe. Coeliac disease is the result of damage to the cells or Villi in the small intestine due to the presence of gluten, whereby others foods and nutrients fail to be absorbed, resulting in weight loss, fatigue, poor concentration and much more.
Other than suffering from Coeliac disease, you may be intolerant to gluten or wheat simply because you eat too much of it and you may have a build up of it in the system as a result of a sluggish digestive system. Specialised Gluten free products usually contain a small percentage of wheat.
Having intolerance to wheat usually means just the cereal wheat itself. You can usually eat other cereals which are gluten containing such as oats, rye, barley etc. As wheat is a staple food item and has so many functions as a carrier, thickener, bulking agent and so on, it is widespread in so many products that you would never think of such as ice-cream, some yoghurts, sauces, sweets, pastas, pizzas, all bakery products and much more. Elimination of wheat and gluten from the diet for a while is good to allow the body a break; you should see improvements in your skin, energy levels and bowel habits.
Read all labels, which should declare gluten and wheat as an allergen. Avoid where necessary. As I have said in previous articles, you need to get to the root cause of the intolerance in the first place and vary your diet as much as possible with plenty of simple foods such as fruit and vegetables.
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