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What is it in bread that I'm reacting to?

Breadfiend's picture

What is it in bread that I'm reacting to?

I stopped eating wheat almost two years ago. My eyes cleared up, the itching stopped, and the abdominal pain I'd been experiencing decreased.

Either it was a gluten sensitivity or an allergy to wheat. Since then, I've been tested for an allergy to wheat, and it came up negative. The gluten test was also negative, though I understand that the test needs to be done when you're still eating products containing gluten, which I wasn't. I decided not to undergo the intestinal biopsy to check for gluten problems.

I tried eating a couple of Italian-made crackers not long ago. I'd heard that people with gluten problems can often eat goods made with Italian wheat. The pain returned.

So, I wonder: What is the problem? If it's not the gluten, could I be sensitive to something in the flour itself? Although I'm not eating gluten, I still experience abdominal pain. I discovered that carrageenan is often used in flour, and I wonder if that could be the culprit. I now live in Europe, so many American additives are prohibited here, but carrageenan is regarded as safe.

Has anyone else been in a similar situation?

AbeNW11's picture
AbeNW11 (not verified)

I've read somewhere that you may not show signs of allergy with a skin test but may still be allergic/sensitive when digesting something. Our skin is not our digestive system.

You'll need to do some trial and error of your own by cutting out one food type at a time and seeing if things clear up then reintroducing it to see what happens. Which seems to be what you're doing.

Have you tried making homemade bread with just flour+water+salt+yeast, no additives, to see if its the additives that causes this reaction. Try it with wheat flour.

Another option is to eat spelt instead of wheat. Many who have gluten intolerance seem to do better with spelt.

Your symptoms seem to be intolerance to gluten and not coeliac disease. People who have coeliac become very ill when digesting gluten. The gluten destroys the villi in the intestines and they can't absorb nutrients. These grow back when gluten is stopped being ingested. From what you describe it sounds like allergy/intolerance which is different.

The ONLY way to be 100% certain whats going on might be to have a biopsy but not necessary if you don't wish to have one. If you avoid it and it doesn't clear up then more investigation will be necessary. Till then conduct your own trial and error.

ericreed's picture

No one has been able to confirm that gluten intolerance is a real thing. Which isn't to say you and many others aren't experiencing something, obviously, but it's hard to pin it on gluten. There is a possible culprit in FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di- and Mono-saccharides and Polyols), which are a group of carbohydrates found in bread and other foods. If anything, you might be able to eat long fermented sourdough breads. The sourdough process partially digests the grain, making it easier for our own digestion. (Spelt apparently as well is lower in FODMAPs, so as Abe mentioned that might work as well, especially sourdough spelt.)

Maverick's picture

Have you tried foods without wheat that contain barley or rye? It might be difficult to control for cross contamination, but they both contain gluten. They are in the same tribe as wheat so it might still be an issue anyway.

Stevo's picture

I am writing this as a GP (or family doctor in American) - If you were not eating a gluten containing diet when you had the coeliac test - which I presume was a blood test - then it would be worth getting retested when you have been eating gluten containing foods for a couple of weeks. They symptoms of coeliac disease can be quite variable from feeling a bit tired to severe pains, bowel upset, weight loss and anaemia. Coeliac disease is an important disease to diagnose as it can have long term complications.

The itchy eyes may suggest an allergy and there are different proteins in wheat that you can be allergic to, including gluten. Unfortunately allergy testing (like nearly all medical tests) can have false positive results and false negative results. If avoiding wheat improved your symptoms that's great. As others have suggested other grains may be better for you, but many do still have some gluten (if a bit less than wheat).

For the pain, avoiding FODMAPS foods as mentioned by ericreed may help, if the problem is more akin to IBS.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the plant's natural way of defending itself from being eaten.  Plants make seeds to make more plants and if we ate all the seeds, the plants will fail to survive.  If you eat the seed and don't like how you digest it, you stop eating it.  Plant seeds live to reproduce while you look for a different food.