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Navigating Allergies and Food Sensitivities

Wheat Allergies

Wheat Allergy and Intolerance Info

wheat free

Foods made with wheat are staples of the American diet. However, many people are allergic to proteins found in wheat, including gluten.1

Bread, pasta, and most batter-fried dishes are but three of the common foods off-limits to people with wheat allergies. Wheat allergies are among the eight most common food allergies, affecting as many as six percent of children under the age of three, and less than ½ % of the adult population.2,3

A true wheat allergy is a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, or an auto-immune response, to a certain protein component of wheat.3 However, many people who speak of a wheat allergy are actually referring to wheat intolerance caused by gluten – a very complex protein found in wheat and some other grains such as rye, barley and oats. Gluten intolerance affects one in one hundred and thirty three people.3,4

Gluten intolerance is an intestinal disorder that occurs when the body can’t tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten intolerance is associated with the disease called celiac disease, also know as celiac sprue, nontropical sprue or gluten-sensitive enteropathy.4,5Celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, an autoimmune disorder affecting the body’s ability to process gluten proteins found in wheat and some other grains, is not a form of wheat allergy.

Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, is neither an autoimmune disorder or food allergy.  Individuals who present with GS may present with a variety of symptoms which are often similar to those of celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) making it essential that celiac disease and other conditions are ruled out before a diagnosis of GS is made.

While wheat allergies, gluten intolerance, and non celiac gluten sensitivity arise from different processes in the body, they are related in their implications for patients’ lifestyles. People with wheat allergies, celiacs, and non – celiac gluten sensitive individuals must strictly avoid all wheat in the diet. (Celiacs and Gluten Sensitive Individuals must also avoid rye, barley and oats.) 2

Table 1 contains a list of some of the foods where wheat may be found.

Table 1: Examples of wheat products that may contain wheat: 1,2
Wheat Products Wheat-Containing
Wheat-Containing Food
  • Whole wheat or enriched flour
  • High gluten flour
  • High protein flour
  • Bran
  • Farina
  • Graham flour
  • Bulgur
  • Durum
  • Kamut
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Wheat malt
  • Wheat starch
  • Modified starch
  • Starch
  • Gluten
  • Gelatinized starch
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Vital gluten
  • Wheat bran
  • Wheat germ
  • Wheat gluten
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch
  • Many breads, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods, including pizza crust
  • Some baking powders
  • Most batter-fried foods
  • Bread crumbs
  • Crackers
  • Flour-thickened sauces, casseroles, and gravies
  • Many (hot and cold) cereals
  • Acker meal
  • Couscous
  • Cracker meal
  • Pasta
  • Canned soup and chili
  • Salad dressings
  • barbecue sauce,
  • soy sauce
  • Beer
  • Candy (especially with nougat)
  • Sausage, meatloaf, and other dishes where breadcrumbs are used as a filler

Substitutes for wheat include corn, potato, tapioca, gluten free oat, soy,  rice, and arrowroot  flours and  starches, but obviously would not be appropriate for people with sensitivities or allergies to these ingredients.



Wheat Allergies.

Volta U, Tovoli F, Cicola R, et al. Serological Tests in Gluten Sensitivity (Nonceliac Gluten Intolerance). Journal of Clinical Gastroenterol. 2012;45:680-685 

Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.


Mass General Hospital Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease.


Mayo Clinic

Celiac Disease.


Diagnosis of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

National Foundation for Celiac Awareness.  Diagnosis of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Available at: Accessibility verified February 24, 2013.