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Wheat and Gluten Allergies and Intolerances--What is the Difference?

By Expert HERWriter
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All foods are not created equal. There are some foods that are nutrient-dense and support the bodies innate ability to heal. There are other foods, usually foods that have been processed in some way, that can cause problems for the body.

During the Food As Medicine Professional Nutritional Training Program there were several mentions of wheat and wheat products, especially the proteins found in wheat gluten and gliadin, causing problems to the body. The reason I decided to write about this topic is because there are a growing number of studies that are finding that wheat and gluten may cause numerous symptoms, inflammation, and disease as they are processed in the body.

Food allergies and/or food intolerances are generally the cause of the symptoms or diseases related to problems with wheat and gluten. Let me explain the difference between these two terms. If someone has an allergy to wheat or gluten then the immune system produces a response characterized as IgE or immediate hypersensitivity response. There are standard labs that can run blood work to see if you have allergies to wheat. There is also a series of tests for a disease called celiac disease, which causes an immune response to antibodies in the blood to gliadin, or the proteins found in wheat. These blood tests include endomysial antibodies, anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies, and anti-gliadin antibodies.

In contrast, a food intolerance also causes adverse responses in the body. The blood testing for these are not as standard and require testing from special or independent labs. These immune response to that occurs to these tests are called IgG or delayed hypersensitive responses. These are much more subtle and can be harder to identify even with testing. The food intolerances are difficult to diagnose so for the integrative medicine doctor or the naturopathic doctor they become part of the rule out process once the clear cut diseases are eliminated.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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