Wheat Intolerance

All about Wheat Intolerance

Many Americans suffer from wheat intolerance without even knowing it.  Whether is just that bland piece of Wonder bread you toasted at breakfast or that amazingly crusty French loaf you used to make a roast beef sandwich at lunch, the cause of your problems might lie right there in your breadbox.  Although it is distressing for bread lovers, wheat intolerance, though it can’t kill you, can reduce your quality of life significantly.


The typical person who suffers from wheat intolerance will feel tired, get headaches, and have recurring bouts of diarrhea.  Some may even become physically nauseous, sometimes even throwing up unexpectedly and without quite knowing why.

Wheat Intolerance versus Wheat Allergy

Laymen and sufferers often use the terms “wheat intolerance” and “wheat allergy” interchangeably.  The medical community, however, recognizes a significant difference between the two diagnoses and the treatments for each kind of ailment.  Allergy to wheat is a condition where an individual suffers an allergic reaction to coming into contact with wheat.  As with other kinds of allergies, the reaction to a wheat allergy usually happens within minutes of exposure and can be extreme and pronounced.  The individual might become intensely ill, throw-up or break into hives.  The cause of most wheat allergies is a reaction to several different kinds of proteins contained within the bread product.

Wheat intolerance on the other hand is both less obvious and less clearly worked out by the medical community.  Sufferers from this condition may not even be aware of the relationship between baked goods and their symptoms because the symptoms may not take place until hours later.  This gap in time will often lead unpracticed physicians to misdiagnose the symptoms of this bread intolerance and keep many sufferers from taking actions to improve their overall health.  Furthermore, some forms of this intolerance relate directly to a specific sugar called gliadin.


Unfortunately, there is no real cure for intolerance to bread products.  In fact, the medical community has only designated the disease in recent years, many physicians don’t know either that it exists or if they have heard of it, don’t know what to do about it.  Unlike wheat allergies where the main action is avoidance (a life sentence for bread lovers), expert physicians are able to treat wheat intolerance by slowly introducing wheat back into the diet in small chunks until the body naturally begins to build up its defenses against it.  Since, however, physicians use the term “wheat intolerance” to diagnose all conditions that don’t fit into the term “wheat allergy” or Celiac disease and those conditions they believe stem back to wheat intake, this also means that the treatments for wheat intolerance also may have mixed result.  Put simply, the jury is still out.

An Immune Disorder

Wheat intolerance is a form of immune deficiency, meaning the actual cause of the problems stem not as much from the actual compound introduced (after all, most people who take wheat find it a good source of nutrition and have no problem with it), but the body’s own internal regulations.  Because the immune system is involved, it is important to find a doctor who will look into the matter, as a wheat intolerance can also be a sign of deeper more damaging conditions.

At worst, the condition simply means that one has to avoid breads.  This is not quite as easy as avoiding other foods, of course.  Wheat is an ingredient in a series of other recipes—like pizza—, which makes trying actually to give it up a real drag for people.  This is why it is best to try to build up a tolerance for wheat rather than going to the more extreme measure right away.