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Gluten or Wheat Intolerance?

One area of nutrition, which often leads to head scratching and confusion for many people, is that of gluten intolerance and how this relates to wheat intolerance; questions that frequently come up are what is gluten, which foods would you find it in, what’s the difference between gluten and wheat intolerance and what does a gluten or wheat intolerance test entail?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is the name given to the protein in a number of grains such as wheat (including wheat varieties such as spelt, kamut, faro, durum, bulgar, semolina), rye, barley, and oats. The name gluten comes from the latin word for ‘glue’. It gives the dough its elasticity, prevents crumbling and as such plays a vital role in the production of baked goods. Most commonly you would find gluten in bread products, pasta, biscuits, crackers, cereals, beer but also in sauces or processed meat products as a thickener.

Gluten Versus Wheat Intolerance

Gluten intolerance and wheat intolerance are different conditions but obviously cross over with one another, which is where the confusion often comes in. Additionally, the symptoms experienced, although highly individual, can be very similar such as bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, sometimes headaches and a general sense of malaise. Gluten intolerance means an intolerance to all grains containing gluten; wheat and wheat varieties, rye, barley, and oats. Whereas wheat intolerance is an intolerance just to wheat and wheat varieties, not the other gluten-containing grains. So as you can imagine being gluten intolerant can be far more limiting than wheat intolerance.


Understanding the presence of either of these conditions is the first step towards making changes. It can be done through an IgG gluten or wheat intolerance test, which is a blood test identifying the presence of IgG antibodies created against gluten or wheat. It is important to note that this type of testing does not show the presence of coeliac disease. To identify the presence of this autoimmune condition blood tests for IgA and IgA tissue transglutaminase (tTG) must be carried out.

Dietary Changes

If you do find yourself having to cut out gluten or wheat after completing a gluten or wheat intolerance test do not despair! The range of products available in supermarkets is extensive and growing all the time and restaurants and cafes are also offering more and more options to those who need to avoid gluten or wheat. Where possible, choosing products which are naturally gluten-free or wheat-free in place of processed ‘free from’ products is the best way forward. On a gluten-free diet, grains such as corn, rice, millet, sorghum, amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa are all excellent choices. For those who are wheat free, you can also add rye, barley and spelt to the party.

Lifelab Testing offers IgG gluten and wheat intolerance testing, for more information click here. 

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