Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wheat--Allergy, Intolerance, or Sensitivity?

I'm learning more about the differences between gluten intolerance, wheat allergy, Wheat or gluten sensitivity.  It all seems very confusing.  The more I read the more I seem to fit in the category of wheat allergy.  I found this site helpful.

"Even though it occurs as a reaction to protein in wheat, Celiac Disease is not specifically a wheat allergy. A wheat allergy — like most well-known allergies — is the response of white blood cells called basophils and mast cells to something called Immunoglobulin E (or IgE for short). In laymen terms, this is a traditional allergy where you develop antibodies to an allergen, in this case wheat. Believe it or not, you can have a wheat allergy and not have Celiac Disease (or gluten intolerance), and you can have Celiac Disease and not have a wheat allergy. They’re two completely different responses in your body.
In a vast majority of cases, gluten intolerance symptoms will be systemic and will be a result of consuming gluten over a period of time. But symptoms of wheat intolerance will instead manifest themselves more like you perceive a typical allergy: quickly and with single exposure. Being gluten intolerant can be frustrating as this autoimmune disease can be subtle and insidious."
 My #1 symptom is sinus inflammation, and it happens quite soon after exposure.  In fact, yesterday I had lunch with a friend at Subway.  I didn't eat there.  I ate my own gluten free sandwich made from coconut flour and gluten free meat.  As I sat there, very soon I noticed I was feeling the congestion begin.  I walked in there and if you've been in Subway you know what I mean... it just wreaked of the smell of freshly made bread. For some reason much stronger a smell than at any bakery or any other restaurant I've ever been to.  I know they make their rolls right there in their oven.  I couldn't believe just the smell of the bread was causing me to have a reaction when I didn't even eat any!  I mean, come on!!!

I also discovered I cannot handle the play dough where I work with preschool children.  I used to make the play dough and sure can't do that anymore, but I cannot even handle it without using gloves and then washing my hands after, because if I touch my face while handling it I get a reaction.  I don't have all the digestive issues that people with Celiac have, but have had problems with IBS.  I can't tell if that is improved with giving up wheat or not because at that same time I began taking L-glutamine and drinking kefir again.  I think what ever improvement I have had has been due to that.  Because when I stop doing that, it comes back, regardless of having no wheat.  It's so hard to know these things!

So does it matter if it's an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, or celiac?  I suppose it would help me to know, but no matter, I have to stay away from wheat.  What I don't understand is that I seem to be more hyper-sensitive to wheat after being off from it for a year than I ever was when I was actually eating it.  So very little gives me a very big reaction.

So I'm still learning about all of this and striving to find hidden wheat wherever it may show up and be careful.  Almost impossible to eat out.  Every time I do, no matter how careful I think I am, I get a reaction.  It sort of scares me in a way.  I don't know where this will go, or how bad it can be, or if it could develop into even stronger reactions.  In that sense I suppose it's important to know if it is truly an allergy or a sensitivity.

If you're out there also struggling with this do read the site above that I linked to.  It has a lot of helpful information!  I have just started reading and I know I need to read more.  If anyone has any other helpful information please let me know.

One advantage I have is that I have been low carbing for about 5 years already so going from that to taking away wheat was not so huge and overwhelming.  I already knew how to make breads and baked goods for myself with low carb non-wheat flours.

So that's where I'm at for now.  I hope you all have a happy wheat-free low-carbing journey!  I'm doing my best to make it that for myself and whoever else I can help along the way.  :)

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