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Gluten: Intolerance NOT allergy

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One of the largest and single most frustrating things to 220 million people worldwide diagnosed with a food allergy except those diagnosed with a true wheat allergy is that gluten is thought of as one of the only food allergies in the world right now.

A gift for you today: Knowledge. It can be a powerful thing if used.

Here are 8 facts you need to know about Gluten:

  1. Gluten is NOT a food allergy. Gluten IS more commonly a food intolerance. To understand more about Allergy vs. Intolerance click here.
  2. Gluten is NOT wheat. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, malt flavoring, bulgur, durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina. (Unless oats are specifically labeled Gluten Free, they could be contaminated with wheat in the growing or processing stages.)
  3. Gluten is Gluten. Gluten is a glue like binding agent produced in the processing of the above mentioned. Gluten is the composite of a gliadin and a glutenin. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.
  4. Wheat is Wheat. Wheat by itself is listed as one of the Big 10 food allergens in most of the world. Wheat can produce an anaphylaxis response in a person and cause death only if a person is allergic to wheat.
  5. To date Wheat is not listed as a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) crop, although various insider reports may show rare cases where this exist.
  6. Wheat has health benefits, if you are not allergic to it. Read more here.
  7. One in 133 people have been diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, which requires they live a gluten free lifestyle in order to avoid being sick for weeks. There is no validated gluten intolerance testing in the United States at this time, although the NFCA reports that "research shows 18 million people have a gluten intolerance," even without validated testing. Board certified allergist will tell you that no reports have indicated someone dying due to a gluten allergy.
  8. Gluten Free alternatives does not mean Carb Free, therefore if you are trying to lose weight eating gluten free alternatives, you may end up gaining additional weight. Talk to a certified food consultant, special dietary needs expert or licensed nutritionist before you go on any diet.

If a person has been diagnosed with food allergies, even the smallest particle of that food you are allergic to could KILL them, even if an Epi Pen is administered. However, food allergies impact each person differently. While the severity of food allergies usually increases with age, there are some cases where children are able to outgrow a food allergy.

There are 5 times more people diagnosed with a food allergy vs. celiac disease, just in America.

In most cases where an allergic reaction occurs, anti-histamines and epinephrine can stop an allergic response from killing you, but it is not guaranteed. If those medications are not available immediately when a person begins anaphylaxis shock, they will likely die within minutes. This happened several times in 2013, across the world. Review food allergy deaths in 2013, click here.

If a person has a gluten intolerance or celiac disease and they ingest more than 20 particles per million they could indeed become very sick and it can last for weeks. Anti-histamines and epinephrine have not been proven to help ease their conditions. The only way to avoid being sick, is to live without gluten.

There are 8 Big food allergens listed in the United States and 14 known foods that cause adverse responses in the UK, therefore they are required to be listed on packaged food products. While Gluten is required to be listed in the UK, it is only because it can cause an adverse reaction to some people’s systems in fact making them very ill, as in food poisoning ill.

The Big 8 allergens in the United States are: Milk (Dairy and all products of it), Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Soy, Wheat, Eggs, Shellfish, Fish.

The Big 14 ingredients in the United Kingdom are: Cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, mollusks, eggs, fish, peanuts, nuts, soybeans, milk, celery, mustard, sesame, lupin and sulphur dioxide at levels above 10mg/kg, or 10 mg/litre, expressed as SO2.

Beverages including alcohol must be labeled in the UK, which is not the case in the US.

Gluten can be found in cosmetics (not required to be labeled), food additives including modified food starch and flavoring, medications, vitamins, play dough, ketchup, sauces, ice cream, processed lunch meats, seasoning, rice mixes, soups, and dressing. (Again in the United States gluten is NOT required to be listed as an ingredient and could be listed as natural flavorings or not at all.) There is a new law passed in August 2013 about gluten labeling though. Read more here.

Before we continue to go down a path of misinformation, let’s really focus on getting our facts straight as well as our wording on this. It is essential to pay attention to both food intolerance and food allergy because they are both food safety issues.

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