Wheat Allergies – Blood Shot Eyes, Runny Nose, and Only Gluten Free Beer? Say it Isn’t So!

June 10, 2010

So I believe that wheat allergies are nature’s cruel joke. By no means am I an expert on this subject, but I have just done a bit of research. I began noticing that I would get a runny nose after certain meals containing wheat along with blood shot eyes. It isn’t like I would eat a meal with wheat and feel terrible, but just bad enough to be slightly irritating. Another thing I noticed was feeling tired after a wheat heavy meal. I chalked this up to having too many carbs, but noticed a stronger reaction to meals where the carbs were made with wheat or flour.

Wheat Allergies

[If you glance in the mirror and you look a little like this after chowing down some crackers or eating a snickerdoodle, then you might have a wheat allergy. If you don’t have a wheat allergy…you at least need to change something, because this isn’t a good look.]

“I Love Gluten. Let Me Count the Ways…”

I didn’t know how much I enjoyed wheat until I really thought about it. I don’t eat pizza as much as some people, but a good New York style pizza with a frosty mug of beer that is large enough to challenge your forearm muscles and grip? Yes please! I like to get an over-sized pastry at least 1-2 times per week at a French bakery downtown that also serves rockin’ espresso. Typically it is a massive snickerdoodle or scone. Basically I just point at whatever gluten filled snack catches my eye in the glass case, as the barista is preparing my Double Americano. Just typing this makes me crave a frisbee-sized cookie.

How Could Something “That Feels so Right, Be Wrong”?

Eliminating wheat from my diet is not going to happen. My favorite beers have wheat in them, so that is a “no”.

Speaking of beer, I am pretty much hooked on “Leffe Blonde“. This tastes similar to a Hoegaarden or Mothership Wit, but with a little more kick. If you are into beer, give this a try. They carry this at “Whole Foods Market” for those who live in the US, Canada, or the UK.

This is the perfect Friday when you get home beer, to get you out of work mode. Also goes good with nachos, pizza, or hot wings.

They do make gluten free beer, and we will discuss that, but I can’t eliminate wheat filled beer from my diet. It is painful just thinking about it!

Wheat Allergies and Gluten

To be honest I probably have a gluten allergy, but I like to use the term wheat allergy…it is easier to envision. So let’s talk about gluten. What is gluten. I see “gluten free” labels on food all the time, but what are those foods freeing us from? So gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. The obvious uses for gluten is in breads and baked goods, but they sneak gluten into many other foods. Gluten can be used as an additive in other foods such as ice cream and ketchup.

Only 1 in 133 People Have Full-Blown Gluten Intolerance

The research I conducted showed that less than 1% of the population has full-blown gluten intolerance. This is called celiac disease, which is pretty serious and results in damage to the small intestine when gluten is consumed. Some signs of celiac disease are abdominal bloating and pain, chronic diarrhea, vomiting after eating foods containing gluten. If you are reading this and experiencing serious symptoms like this, then click on that link and then see your doctor as well.

Gluten-Free Beer is Discussed Here…so Cheer!

Yeah…bad rhyming skillz, I know (sorry to the poets).

This beer is called Redbridge and it is probably the easiest to locate since it is made by Anheuser-Busch (Budweiser).

Here is an updated list of gluten free beers. This link has a list of 23 breweries around the globe that carry gluten-free beer.

Here is a gluten-free beer review with comments. I like the sound of St. Peters Brewery in the UK. Their G-Free beer supposedly has a taste similar to Blue Moon. I will search this down at my local beer import market.

Many of Us Just Have Mild Wheat Allergies

I typically feel better after a wheat free meal than when I eat one containing wheat. My girlfriend is the same way. One of the big reasons I enjoy Marks Daily Apple and Feel Good Eating is that I can find great low-carb recipes and ideas of gluten free foods. I like to eat paleo when I need to be productive, and add in the carbs at night or on the weekend when I want to relax. I simply love carbs too much to be carb-free.

My Approach Will Be Part-Time Paleo & Part-Time Gluten Free

So I Google’d “gluten free” and found a bunch of places that offer gluten free products. Big companies like Whole Foods have a wide selection of gluten-free products, but try and support a local business if possible as well. I try my best to support small local businesses, because they tend to give back and care about the community. I found a cool little bakery called Wheatless In Seattle that is really close to where I live. They have gluten-free breads, cookies, pizza, etc. There is a good chance that you have a similar place in your neighborhood. So I will simply do my best to buy gluten free alternatives when it it convenient. Mix in a few paleo meals and simply eat normal gluten-filled foods the rest of the time.

Note: I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject at all, I really wanted to get some feedback and tips from others who have mild wheat allergies or full-blown gluten intolerance.

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{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

admin June 14, 2010 at 3:53 pm

@ Danielle,

I simply can’t go full paleo…I love my french pastries, rice, cookies, sandwiches, pizza, etc, too much. I like paleo…but just part of the time.

@ Constance,

I have changed my stance on creatine since that post (that was from a few years back). Anyway, since chatting with John Barban and Brad Pilon (who actually created and made supplements for large supplement companies)…I believe creatine is probably the best muscle gaining supplement on the market. It inreases the volume of the muscle without adding body fat. It does seem to work the best when someone is really lean with dense muscles. If someone was a little flabby and had excess body fat it wouldn’t make as much of an impact. I recommend it after someone leans down to a low body fat level…to add it 3-4 weeks before a vacation or special event.

@ Darrin,

Yeah…I don’t do so well with dairy either. Great points. Yogurt and cheese are fine, but milk kills my stomach. It wasn’t as big of an issue when I was younger.

@ katie,

Thanks for the resource. I am going shopping tonight for a lot of my food for the week and I do plan on picking up some gluten free foods tonight. As far as drinks go, vodka seems to feel the best on my body as far as feeling no sluggishness the following day. I do pretty good with beer as well. I went to the horse races yesterday (first time ever) we had 4-5 beers and felt great. I did go wheat free all day basides that and didn’t have a runny nose.

@ Zorik,

I get acne from chocolate! A bad deal, because I love chocolate. I will sacrifice my skin and eat chocolate every now and then…but not as often as I would like. The Wheatless in Seattle store is located in the Greenwood neighborhood…so easier parking than going downtown.

@ Yavor,

I feel your pain. I sometimes experience seasonal allergies as well.

@ Aaron,

Yeah…I like paleo and plan on doing it part-time. I am also going to mix in some gluten free stuff as well. Crazy that going Paleo helped you so much.

@ Sean,

No I don’t think beer has triggered a reaction. I feel alright when drinking beer. The thing that messes me up the most are pastries and breads. I should try more sourdough. Love it.

@ Marc,

If I had to give up wheat in food or wheat in beer, I would ditch the food. I do love the way eating Paleo makes me feel, but also love carb containing foods. I guess I walk the middle road although I really do see the logic of eating paleo.

@ Seo,

Fascinating. I love alternative approaches and examining things that aren’t mainstream. Although the pharmaceutical companies have saved millions of lives, I know they are slow to adopt cutting edge treatments. Will take a look at that link.

@ Steve,

You probably do feel great. A lot of the followers of paleo get fantastic results eating that way.

@ Jay,

Don’t worry so much about post workout nutrition. The benefits are way over-exaggerated. The thing about doing intense HIIT and intervals is that it spikes the level of HGH in your body. As soon as you eat, insulin gets elevated and the HGH is lowered. When insulin is high…HGH is low. So even though your body will absorb more nutrients after training, it also is releasing HGH. For fat loss I would say the HGH increase is more important than the filling up the glycogen storage in your muscles by eating after training. HGH also spares the muscle protein while burning fat. Hope that makes sense!

@ deb,

You are correct about the aging thing. This wasn’t as big of a deal until I reached my mid 30’s.

@ Anna,

If you eliminate wheat from your diet you also probably wind up eating less. I was trying to find a wheat free snack the other day in my kitchen. I wound up eating a cup of yogurt with honey mixed in. My wheat filled snack in the past would have been cheese and crackers or something else that made me sluggish.

@ Joey,

Also, if you get the chance try Mothership Wit. It is like a lighter version of Hoegaarden. Amazing stuff. Going to a beer fest this weekend. Love myself some good beer 🙂

@ Robin H,

I have heard of mood swings as well. Kind of crazy that depression can be linked to food choices. I think we underestimate the powerful effects of food.

@ Bombshell Body Training,

Thanks for reading and finally commenting. I appreciate it. The thing that makes my stomach feel the worst is actually breads and also bell peppers…they mess with me in a bad way…but will still eat them in fajitas.

@ Brandon,

I don’t know if I known anyone will celiac disease, but know a bunch of people with mild wheat allergies.

@ Daniel,

I’ll look for that ebook. Sounds informative.

@ Raymond,

Allergies are a weird deal. You can go 30-40 years without any problems and then get one all of the sudden. Not a huge deal…just a challenge to deal with.

@ Paul,

I haven’t had much cider. I am such a big beer fan. I also like the occasional margarita (on vacation or a Friday afternoon at a happy hour in a Mexican Restaurant).

@ Dr. Osborne,

Very cool. I will take a look at that video. I love quality info like this. Thanks.

@ Stayfitcentral,

I also like creatine when someone is lean. It seems to make less of an impact when guys are above 12% body fat.

@ Marc,

Yeah…good idea for a topic. I always appreciate that.

@ steven,

Removing pain would be a big enough motivator for me to drop wheat out of my diet. You are doing the right thing for sure!

@ Marc,

I think a lot of the gluten free sources are still carb based. I actually enjoy carbs and believe they can be consumed when losing body fat. Why don’t you give it a try. Go gluten free and just focus on keeping calories under control. It should work fine…but you won’t know for sure unless you give it a shot.

@ Wim,

That is hilarious and made my day. We can’t legally drink beer here until the age of 21. I actually believe the age should be dropped to 18. People are considered adults, can vote, can go to war, but can’t drink beer. Seems weird to me…plus the majority of college freshmen drink at the age of 18. It is illegal, but nobody really enforces the law. No doubt that Belgium makes the best beers in the world. I will need to visit someday. Leffe Blonde is outstanding and a work of art. That is a seriously good beer!

@ Samuel,

That is a good question and one I don’t have an answer for. Hopefully someone else will.

@ Robin H,

That “notify me” thing only works about half the time on my site. It is because the website design I use (Wordpress Theme) is ancient. I could replace my entire theme with a new one, but I love how simple my theme and navigation is compared to other blogs.

@ Danny,

I get where you are coming from. I like a lot of what paleo practices, but don’t like having such rigid rules of eating. That being said, no doubt that I feel much better when I eat paleo. I won’t ignore it 100%, because I believe they have a lot of valid points. To be honest, I am more of a believer in calories in vs calories burned than any other approach to eating. Great points about empty calories…Brad Pilon agrees that we shouldn’t even label foods “junk foods”. You can eat just about anything in moderation.

@ Ramon,

I do get a little more lean when limiting the carbs…I wonder if it is just a calorie deal. I am going to do a future post on calorie sources vs total calories for losing weight.


EmLee June 14, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I’ve been gluten free for about 4 years now and I feel great. Since I started eating primal a few months ago, I feel even better. Before I found out I had a gluten allergy, I was unhealthy thin (5’10” and 115 lbs) because my body was not able to properly absorb nutrients and I had an aversion to food because eating hurt! When you have a gluten sensitivity, an auto-immune reaction to the gluten basically destroys your intestines. My stomach hurt after I ate pretty much anything, sometimes even after drinking just water, and I felt bloated and constipated all the time. I had acne, felt lethargic, and was generally depressed. Once I stopped eating gluten, it completely changed my outlook on food. I gained 10-15 lbs (much of it muscle), had energy, and could start to enjoy food without fear. Bear in mind, this is all in retrospect. At the time I really didn’t realize how bad it was because I didn’t know anything different. I would HIGHLY recommend that everyone try going gluten-free for a month to see how they feel. I truly believe that we did not evolve to eat grains, and that they should be at least limited, if not eliminated, if you want to thrive.

Brian Dickey June 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Ditto on the gluten thing. That is how I got started on low carb etc. I just felt better when I cut out the wheat foods, vinegar and sugars.

Erin Elberson June 16, 2010 at 5:08 am

Good discussion over here guys, nice to see a non-zealot-like conversation about Paleo/gluten issues.
I have celiac disease, and so obviously avoid gluten completely. The statistics for gluten intolerance really can not be measured at this point in time, but some estimates have it at 1 in 10 people, whereas as mentioned, celiac is at 1 in about 100-ish.
Eating gluten free can be just as unhealthy as the standard American diet. I am very grateful to the food manufacturers for giving us greater choice, but now there are gluten free pizza/cookies/crackers etc. It’s more expensive, but you can eat very poorly from a nutritional standpoint and still be gluten free. There is nothing inherently healthier about a gluten free diet. As always, it depends on your food choices. If you go gluten free and eliminate processed food, adding more fruits/veggies/protein/healthy fats, then yes, your health and athletic performance could improve. I hypothesized that as the case when I wrote an article about non celiac athletes going gluten free.
I am a physique athlete, and get a fair amount of carbs in-but I get them from gluten free oats, rice, potato, and fruit/veggie.
And @Marc-try spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti, and cottage cheese blended with some sweetener and flavoring, then freeze it for your “ice cream.”

Luke M-Davies June 16, 2010 at 11:20 am

As soon as I saw the blissful picture of Leffe, I was a happy man. Fortunately for me, there is an abundance of wheat free beers that have hit the UK market and Leffe blonde is widely available. Anybody else in the UK should check out Sam Smith’s Organic Wheat Beer – also tasty!

For my love of porridge oats and beer, I too cannot give up such luxuries but like you Rusty, like to follow a part-time Paleo/primal diet. It seems to work well for me (combined with an active lifestyle)

Greg June 16, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I have been gluten free for almost a year now and I feel way better. And I have gone paleo for almost a week now and holy bananas does gluten free seem like a walk in the park compared to paleo. BTW i took your recommendation Rusty and looked into Mark Sisson’s Blog and bought his book and I think his stuff is absolutely tremendous now.
The whole gluten free thing is huge and its really easy to eat gluten free with all the gluten free foods out there. However you have to be careful because there are so many things out there that have hidden ingredients with gluten especially sauces

johny June 17, 2010 at 7:56 am

question abt the visual impact:
in phase 1, you recommend a pyramid approach bond with short rests. but in each set of that pyramid go for failure or not???

Seth June 17, 2010 at 12:59 pm

I went totally paleo after reading some of your blogs more than 6 months ago and every sunday I would eat whatever, like wheat pancakes and different wheat things and I felt like a migraine hit. every sunday the same thing would happen and I pin pointed that I feel dizzy and get irritated easily when eating wheat, so I just never eat it anymore. anyone i talk to about fitness I challenge them to not eat wheat or grains for a week and see how they feel. I felt immediately better after I stopped and lost the puffiness in my abdomen area!

Marc June 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Hi Seth (and other readers)…..Is there a list of ALL foods that contain wheat so one can experiment eliminating it from the diet?….Thanks

Seth June 21, 2010 at 11:54 pm

well, you can search online for that, but the most common things wheat-related, of course, are bread, pastries, most breakfast cereals, you can look for things that say gluten free, that most likely wont have any wheat in them. I sometimes eat rice or corn, it doesnt effect me like wheat, but it probably only consists of 5% of my diet. It sounds pretty boring but my routine is egg scramble with chicken in it with different types of veggies added in the morning, avocado on top sometimes, diff spices, hot sauce, whatever, skip lunch(fasted for working out in afternoon) bowl of fruit for carbs afterward, dinner is some kind of meat,(fish, steak, ground beef) with veggies on side or fruit or both. Its all real its all fresh, so I know what I am putting in my body. try it, or read Paleo diet, they list everything humans weren’t meant to eat. if you are having trouble eliminating bread type foods, coconut flour is a nice substitute.

tardyon July 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Like others, I first determined my gluten allergy as an adult by dabbling in removing grains from my diet.
Years of skin flaking, constant stomach aches, swelling joints and dandruff disappearing within weeks of removing grains from my diet.

Being a physicist, I decided to do some experiments, and re-introduced various foods back into my diet and recorded the response. After a few months I narrowed it down to any gluten containing food.
I verified my data with several medical tests for various Ig responses, tTGA etc. Sure enough.
Verified the results with a second set of tests in another lab with other doctors.

Now, like other allergies, if you expose yourself constantly, some symptoms resolve, and some are chronic. If you cut out the allergen for months, then re-expose yourself you can have a severe reaction.

For instance, I stay away from wheat gluten for months, re-expose myself for a “special occasion” and end up with explosive diarrhea and stomach cramps, followed a few days later by swelling joints and hair loss.

Be careful on going “partial” wheat free if you have full blown gluten allergy, or even intolerance, as you can have bad rebound effects as a reward for your favorite beer. =)

@ Danny

Quit yer bellyachin’ (pun intended).

Celiac is rare, but not as rare as you propose.
Yes, keep eyes out for hoax tests.
There is a large body of scientific data and research showing phenotype adaptation to certain food groups such as grains has not completely progressed in many populations. Yes, paleo people like to dramatize the results, but they are valid results. 10000-20000 years in not enough time to adapt to certain dietary changes through a large population. You may get individual or sub populations that adapt at these time scales, but they are the leaders in the adaptation. Regression to the mean is still in progress.

Other than I despise a lack of critical thinking skills, I am actually glad there are all those suckers out there who think all their problems are caused by “being celiac” because a vocal group will get things done fast, like giving the food companies a reason to develop gluten free products for people like me. 😉

Scott Shulman July 7, 2010 at 1:47 pm

I am a gastroenterologist and treat lots of people with celiac disease. For the love of God, if you think you have this please get tested with the blood test and if the test is positive get a scope with biopsies of your small intestine. Do all of this BEFORE you start on a gluten free diet. wheat, grains, etc. bother many people, but with true celiac disease the need for gluten avoidance is crucial and you can’t cheat. Just trying a gluten free diet makes it very difficult to actually diagnose you and is the sort of thing that ruins my day at the office. Once you know that you do not have it, then avoid gluten as much as you would like, but if you have celiac disease, you can’t ever have a bite of anything with gluten again.

crude fitness July 7, 2010 at 7:32 pm

Iv’e had issues with my skin for quite a while now. I’ve changed body washes and face creams, to no avail. Dermatitis is prevailent. The last place you tend to look with any such symptoms is your DIET.

The blood-shot eyes thing is a definite alarm bell for me I’ve gotta say.

A real eye opener for sure.


KJC December 1, 2010 at 4:33 am

Thank goodness there is someone else out there who has gluten intolerance and refuses to give up beer! Also, Leffe is my favorite beer in the world! And I can’t switch to “steak and wine” because I’m vegetarian and wine gives me a headache.

anna April 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm

I know this is a bit old now but please post Scott SHulman’s post somewhere where all these readers can see it. If people notice they have trouble with gluten-foods they should get tested for celiac, not experiment with their diet. It’s important to stress that the problem is not the immediate symptoms you may have, if you have celiac, gluten is pretty much destroying your gut and this leads to really serious problems in the long run.
Will you really keep drinking beer if it rises your chances of having osteoporosis, irritable vowel disease, or even cancer to the roof? 1 in a 100 is not an “only”, it’s actually a very high percentage of the population, and celiac is still highly undiagnosed. Please tell your readers to get accurate information, this is not a fad-diet, it can be very serious and you need to eliminate gluten completely (using a knive that has been used in bred will affect your guts, so imagine what a beer does to you)

Greg - Kinobody Fitness Systems May 27, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I’ve been gluten free for almost 2 years now!

Its honestly not hard at all to be gluten free. Especially if your already eat healthy. Everything that has gluten you can pretty much get gluten free and usually it tastes just as good or almost as good.

For beer I like New Grist. Its 5.7% alcohol too so it gets you real drunk. Oh and I also just found out that strong bow is gluten free. Here in Toronto, Canada Strong bow is really popular. So this makes it super convenient.

Greg O’G.

brian July 16, 2011 at 7:53 pm

I have celiac which causes fat malabsorption. The reproducibility is almost 100% so it is confirmed. Wheat based cat litter is also a trigger despite being on a gluten free diet. You can print out celiac cards to show your waiters at restaurants who may explain their changes in food preparations.

@Scott Shulman
Sometimes blood tests are not reliable for celiac disease and patients must be on a gluten challenge diet which can be barbaric. When a person is exposed to food allergens even in minute amounts, the silent inflammation can linger for up to 6 months

Nalliah Thayabharan June 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Wheat raises blood sugar higher than most of the other foods. 4 slices of whole wheat bread raise blood sugar higher than 12 teaspoons of sugar. That’s a simple fact as per the table of glycemic index.

Almost all wheat in USA is from a dwarf strain, which produces a far greater yield but has contributed to the current obesity epidemic.

Some of the world’s most popular diets including Atkins, South Beach and the Dukan Diet have urged followers to ditch bread and other carbs to slim down, while a rising number of celiac and gluten sensitivity sufferers have dropped bread in the name of health.

Modern wheat — including whole wheat — has become so uniquely destructive to multiple body functions that more than 80% of us could benefit from giving it up all together. 50% of us could see and feel results almost right away.

When traditional wheat was genetically altered to become semi-dwarf wheat in the last century, it was assumed, without any testing, that the modifications would not change the way it affected those who ate it.

Those genetic changes could be responsible for the rise in celiac disease and gluten sensitivity we are seeing today. Unique compounds in wheat such as gliadin, amylopectin A and others as triggers of hunger, sharper blood sugar spikes, behavioral disorders and destructive inflammation.

Thousands of patients effortlessly lost weight, relieved joint pain, eliminated their need for inhalers and improved their blood numbers with the simple removal of wheat.

Genetically altered form of wheat has been transformed into such a destructive “food” that any amount has the potential to trigger undesirable consequences.

Due to the overwhelming inflammation-triggering effect of wheat gluten and lectins, or the appetite-stimulating effects of the gliadin protein unique to wheat even reduction does yield benefits, just not as dramatic as elimination.

SFinSF July 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

I am SERIOUSLY DISGUSTED that you would hide an ad for beer under the guise of information about celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Also, for people with this NO GLUTEN AT ALL is allowed. Even the smallest bit will cause the body not to absorb nutrients propertly. You are a scumbag and dangerous, too. For SHAME!

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