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Wheat allergies - real or urban myth?

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New research has confirmed that the perceived high prevalence of wheat allergies is, to a large degree, an urban myth.

To refute claims that wheat-based foods are a major trigger in allergic reactions, Go Grains supported an international research review of more than 30 years of studies.

Dietitian Linda Hodge, an expert in allergy and food sensitivity with the Dietitians Association of Australia, conducted the review.

Go Grains is a nutrition communication initiative developed by BRI Australia and supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).

It was established to ensure that scientifically based information on grains and pulses reaches the Australia public.

In terms of triggering allergic symptoms, wheat and other grain products are ranked below nuts, fish, shellfish, milk and eggs, with less than two in 1000 people having a wheat allergy compared with around two in 100 people being allergic to cow's milk.

Ms Hodge found that natural and alternative therapists who use a number of unorthodox medical tests often unnecessarily blamed wheat for allergies.

Procedures such as cytotoxic food testing, kinesiology, iridology, pulse testing and electrodermal and intradermal skin testing, have no scientific basis and are ultimately useless in assessing food allergies.

Recognised methods of detecting wheat allergies are skin prick tests and other specific blood tests conducted by doctors.

Food intolerances can only be diagnosed using a controlled elimination diet that carefully introduces possible problem foods.

Nutritional experts agree that eliminating cereals deprives the body of vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein and can cause nutritional problems, especially in children.

People suspecting they have grain allergies should consult their general practitioner and, if necessary, a medical allergy specialist.

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