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Allergic to White Flour

by
author image Caitlynn Lowe
Caitlynn Lowe has been writing since 2006 and has been a contributing writer for Huntington University's "Mnemosyne" and "Huntingtonian." Her writing has also been in "Ictus" and "Struggle Creek: A Novel Story." Lowe earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Huntington University.
Allergic to White Flour
You can be allergic to either uncooked flour or to cooked foods made with flour. Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Having an allergy to white, all-purpose flour means having an allergy to wheat. Most wheat allergies develop during the infant or toddler years, but children generally outgrow wheat allergies between the ages of 3 and 5. Allergies to all-purpose flour and other wheat products rarely develop in adulthood. If you suspect that you or a family member has an allergy to all-purpose flour, contact your doctor for an official diagnosis.

Wheat Flours

All-purpose flour is a type of wheat flour. According to Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, kernels of wheat consist of the bran, endosperm and germ. A miller makes whole wheat flour by grinding the entire wheat kernel but makes all-purpose flour by grinding the endosperm. Other types of wheat flours, as listed by the Wheat Foods Council, include standard bread flour, self-rising flour, cake flour, pastry flour, gluten flour, semolina and farina.

Wheat Allergy Overview

As MayoClinic.com explains, in individuals with a wheat allergy, the immune system mistakenly identifies a protein found in wheat as a threat and creates an antibody in response. Once the immune system develops this antibody, it has a reaction whenever you consume wheat. Most individuals with a wheat allergy develop symptoms within two hours of eating. Some people only experience exercise-induced symptoms that occur if they perform moderate to heavy exercise several hours after eating a wheat-based product. Others have "baker's asthma," an allergic reaction triggered by inhaling uncooked flour but not by consuming cooked wheat products. Celiac disease -- a sensitivity to the gluten protein found in wheat -- is not technically an allergy but still prevents individuals from consuming all-purpose and other wheat flours.

Symptoms

The most common wheat allergy symptoms include irritation of the mouth, hives, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, nasal congestion and watery eyes. In severe cases, a wheat allergy may even trigger anaphylaxis, in which the patient experiences throat swelling, rapid pulse and severe difficulty breathing. Anaphylaxis is especially symptomatic of exercise-induced wheat allergy. Individuals with baker's asthma frequently experience hives and nasal symptoms. Celiac disease, on the other hand, primarily mimics the digestive symptoms associated with a true wheat allergy.

Flour Substitutes

If your doctor diagnoses you with a wheat allergy, avoid foods made with all-purpose flour or other wheat flours. Buy food labeled as "gluten free" or made using alternative flour types. For home baking purposes, switch to using an alternative non-wheat flour. According to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, 1 cup of any wheat flour equals 1 cup rye flour or rye meal, 1 cup potato flour, 1-1/3 cup oat flour, 1/2 cup potato flour mixed with 1/2 cup rye flour or 5/8 cup rice flour mixed with 1/3 cup rye flour.

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