Wheat – Oh! What a Headache!
Ever imagined that a quick bite of wheat bread you had in your last meal could actually give you quite a headache! Perhaps, no. But, this could be a very startling truth for almost 15 percent of humans inhabiting the planet earth.
Wheat Intolerance is one of only a handful of common food intolerances. And it’s not because of something you caught or something you did. It’s in your genes and it’s the story of evolution.
According to the results of a small new study, some people may experience migraine headaches due to an unexpected culprit that is wheat. Wheat and gluten sensitivity is a major cause of headaches, especially migraines. Ten percent of the population is sensitive to wheat/gluten and this problem may result in a wide variety of diseases, not just digestive ones that come to mind first. Experts advise to go completely off wheat products for 30 days and see how you feel. If your headaches lessen in frequency or do not occur, then it appears that you have found your trigger.
Gluten is the elastic, rubbery protein present in wheat, rye, barley and to a lesser degree in oats. It binds the dough in foods such as bread and other baked goods. It contributes to spongy consistency. Rice and maize do not contain gluten. However, gluten is only one protein found in wheat, rye and barley. These foods, like all other foods, contain a number of discreet proteins that all can result in adverse reactions, like fatigue, anemia, nerve pain, memory loss, osteoporosis, infertility, flatulence, diarrhea and digestive tract distress.
Gluten refers to a group of proteins that are difficult for humans to digest. One group of proteins called gliadin is thought to do most of the damage to the intestinal lining. Glutenins are another group of proteins found in gluten and thought to be associated with autoimmune skin diseases and asthma. Gluten proteins are extremely resistant to intestinal digestion, despite grinding, cooking, processing and digestion.
“It should be borne in mind that wheat or gluten intolerance is different from wheat allergy.” Wheat allergy refers specifically to adverse reactions involving immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to one or more protein fractions of wheat, including albumin, globulin, gliadin and glutenin (gluten). Since, gluten is the more commonly known wheat protein, wheat allergy is often wrongly known as gluten allergy. The majority of IgE-mediated reactions to wheat involve the albumin and globulin fractions. Gliadin and gluten may also, rarely, induce IgE-mediated reactions. Allergy to wheat may occur in any individual, unlike Coeliac Disease, which is hereditary.
Allergic reactions to wheat may adversely impact health may be caused by ingestion of wheat-containing foods or by inhalation of flour containing wheat (also called Baker’s asthma). True food allergies, such as wheat allergy, often produce quite violent reactions, from swelling of the lips and tongue (oedema) or a red rash to, in extreme cases, fatal anaphylaxis Additional wheat allergy symptoms can include asthma and urticaria (hives). On the other hand, food intolerances will not trigger a life-threatening immunological response, but may trigger symptoms such as migraines, bloating or skin rashes, and in some cases can worsen the effects of conditions such as asthma, eczema or migraines.
“The only treatment for the symptoms related to wheat intolerance is strict avoidance of gluten.”
A recent study showed that many patients who reported to be having frequent attacks of migraine headache had sensitivity to gluten, and magnetic resonance imaging scans suggested that they had inflammation in the central nervous system. Many of those who tried a gluten-free diet stopped having headaches. A few patients had some — but not complete — success by switching to a gluten-free diet.
In order to avoid discomfort caused by wheat, be sure to avoid foods that contain any of the following ingredients:
- bread crumbs
- cereal extract
- cracker meal
- enriched flour
- graham flour
- high gluten flour
- high protein flour
- vital gluten
- wheat bran
- wheat germ
- wheat gluten
- wheat malt
- wheat starch
- whole wheat flour
Other possible sources of wheat or wheat products
Ingredients that may indicate the presence of wheat protein include the following:
- gelantized starch
- hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- modified food starch
- modified starch
- natural flavoring
- soy sauce
- starch vegetable
- vegetable starch
Information for using wheat substitutes
1-cup wheat flour equals:
- 1 cup rye meal
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups rye flour
- 1 cup potato flour
- 1 1/3 cups rolled oats or oat flour
- 1/2 cup potato four plus 1/2 cup rye flour
- 5/8 cup potato starch
- 5/8 cup rice flour plus 1/3 cup rye flour