Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free - What is Right For You?
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Jun 14 2008

Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free – What is Right For You?

I’ve noticed a lot of confusion where people are unsure whether or not they should be on a wheat free diet or gluten free diet? For those wondering the difference, a gluten free diet means you have to avoid wheat, in addition to several other things.

Wheat Free vs. Gluten Free

While researching this post, I ran across a great post that pretty much covers comparing wheat free vs. gluten free and explains when and why you should be on either diet:

WHEAT
What contains wheat?

Foods containing wheat are anything made with white or whole wheat flour, such as: cookies, cakes, breads, tortillas, pizza, pasta, pancakes, waffles, most fried food, tempura, dumplings, wontons, etc.; anything made with bulghur such as tabouli; wheat berries; cous cous; sauces that are typically thickened with white flour; soy sauce (although San-J has a wheat-free option).

Why should someone want avoid it?

Sensitivity to wheat typically results in gastrointestinal distress such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, reflux; skin issues such as rashes; and allergies/asthma such as congestion and wheezing.

If a person is symptomatic and eliminates wheat, typically after a week symptoms should start to improve. It can sometimes be dramatic.

What are some alternative to wheat?
Don’t worry, there are plenty of great alternatives to wheat containing foods including: breads, tortillas, pasta, pancakes, waffles, etc. Just make sure to read labels. Most products that are wheat-free will say so on the package. Also, anything that says gluten-free is also wheat-free (even if it doesn’t say so).

GLUTEN
What is Gluten-free?

Gluten-free means that a person avoids all foods containing gluten. Gluten is the general term used to describe the protein found in many grains including wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, oat, triticale, semolina, pumpernickel, and farro.

Why avoid Gluten?
The absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten resulting in malabsorption of carbohydrates, fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals, all of which are needed for good health (see the Gluten Free Diet by Shelley Case). This condition, called Celiac Disease (or Celiac Sprue), is an autoimmune disease that can be very difficult to diagnose as symptoms can range across everything from diarrhea and constipation to chronic fatigue and depression. Celiac is a serious disease that can be diagnosed through blood tests and intestinal biopsy. Should you suspect that you have, seek medical attention immediately.

Please note that there is a large population of people who are sensitive to gluten though don’t have full blown celiac disease. These people also benefit from a gluten-free diet. Again, seek medical attention if you suspect you are sensitive to gluten.

What are alternatives to Gluten?
There are many amazing products on the market that are gluten-free including breads, pastas, cookies, cakes, pancakes, waffles, etc. It is VERY IMPORTANT to read labels. Take note that a product that says “wheat -free” only is NOT necessarily gluten-free.

Article Written by:

Kyle Eslick is the founder of Gluten Free Media, as well as the creator of the popular Celiac Support Groups page. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+!

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  • Susan

    I think I am allergic to wheat, and am perhaps needing a gluten free diet. What type of physician do I go to? An Allergist? I don’t think my GP knows this stuff.

    Also, oatmeal is not gluten free?

    Is rice gluten free?

    • Donna

      I recently took the ALCAT blood test through my naturopathic doctor. My sensitivity to wheat was confirmed, but I was more surprised by a greater sensitivity to rice and NO sensitivity to gluten….so it can all be very confusing. Some oatmeal is gluten free – shop at a natural health foods store and check the label. Rice is gluten free.

  • maria

    a gastrintestineous doctor

  • http://Hotmail.com Cristy Maltsbarger

    I have heard of a diet called wheat belly, which avoids anything with wheat in it. Can anyone tell me more about this ?

    • John Ratchford

      Yes I have read the book “Wheat Belly” and I can tell you it is true, my belly has shrunk, in two months I have lost 13 pounds, and it is mostly from my stomach, and thighs! you must follow it closely (the book) I have arthritis in my fingers/hands and could not close my hands tightly, now I CAN! it is not difficult to find substitutes for the horror of wheat! much of the work has been done for us, manufacturers, such as “Bobs Red Mill” products, have wonderfull recipies,and bread products such as “ezeekiel 4:9″ made by Food For Life, this bread is fiber rich, low glycemic, flourless, totally wheat free, but be aware, it does contain gluten!! hope this helps.JR

  • Stacie

    Wheat Belly is a book. Check it out if you are interested in learning about the history of wheat and why this doctor believes eliminating wheat is the answer. I started TODAY. I have gastro problems and my doctor never suggested I try this. It’s worth a try if it fixes the issue.

    • Sean

      Stacie, I just got the Wheat Belly books and came across your post that was made back in February. I’m curious, how did it work out for you?

  • DW

    I just read the ingredients in Ezekial 4:9 Bread…. It seems that it does contain wheat..Organic sprouted wheat & Organic wheat gluten??? Please explain why this is wheat free?? Thanks