Know Your Ingredients: The Many Names of Wheat

Next on my “Know Your Ingredients” blog posts, is about the names of wheat and what products can contain wheat. There are many different reasons for avoiding wheat and needing to know the information in this post. There were some things I was not aware of. There are 3 major reasons why people avoid wheat.

  • Celiac Disease: This is an autoimmune disorder that shows itself in a reaction while ingesting gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. The reaction causes villous atrophy (flattening of the cells lining the small intestine) which can lead to malabsorption of nutrients, which then can lead to other health issues. There are over 200 related symptoms to celiac disease but some of them involve anemia, behavioral changes, stunted growth, joint pain, and head aches.
  • Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Sensitivity: This is not well defined. It is not an autoimmune disorder like celiac disease, and it is not an immune response like an allergy. There is more research and seeing if there are other components involved in causing the symptoms. The only way this is diagnosed is to rule out celiac disease and a wheat allergy, but following a gluten free diet is beneficial and improves symptoms.
  • Wheat Allergy: This, like other food allergies, is an immune reaction to any of the hundreds of proteins found in wheat, not just gluten. There is an immune reaction which one type of white blood cell sends out IgE antibodies to “attack” wheat and the rest of the body might send other chemical reactions to warn the rest of the body. This can involve abdominal pain, itching, swelling, nausea, swelling, trouble breathing, or anaphylaxis shock to name a few. The person might have to avoid wheat, but might not have to avoid gluten from non-wheat sources.

The only way to know the reason for any reaction, is to get tested. Wheat was one of the food allergies I had as a kid and eventually grew out of with age, and gluten doesn’t seem to bother me. However, one thing I do know, is that mixing your grains and getting a variety is helpful still. If I have too much wheat or gluten in the form of seitan (soy-free plant based ‘meat’ alternative) I will have some cramping and digestion upsets. So even if you do not have an allergy, sensitivity, or an autoimmune disorder that you know of, limiting or exchanging sources of wheat in your everyday diet is not a bad thing to do in general.

Photo by Shalitha Dissanayaka on Unsplash

Just like corn and soy, wheat is in “everything”. Here is a list I got from Kids with Food Allergies.

***Note a lot of the reasons for avoiding wheat is because of gluten, but this post is for wheat in general. Not a list of ingredients that can contain gluten, but can contain wheat as a whole.

Contains Wheat
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Bread (made with any kind of wheat flour, white flour, or bread crumbs)
  • Bulgar Wheat
  • Cereal Extract
  • Couscous
  • Cracker Meal
  • Einkorn
  • Emmer aka Farro
  • Farina
  • Flour (atta, club, common, durum, einkorn, emmer, farina, graham, kamut, maida, semolina, spelt, triticale, triticum)
  • Flour (all-purpose, bread, bromated, cake, enriched, high gluten, high protein, instant pastry, phosphated, plain, soft wheat, steel ground, stone, ground, self-rising, unbleached, white, whole wheat)
  • Fu
  • Gluten (wheat gluten, vital gluten, vital wheat gluten, fu)
  • Kamut (khorasan wheat)
  • Malt, Malt Extract
  • Matzo (Matzo Meal, matzoh, matzah, matza)
  • Noodles, pasta
  • Sietan
  • Semolina
  • Spelt
  • Tabbouleh
  • Triticale
  • Triticum
  • Wheat, whole wheat (Wheat berries, wheat bran, whole wheat bread, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, wheat germ oil, wheat protein isolate, wheat starch, wheat sprouts, sprouted wheat)
  • Wheatgrass
Can Include Wheat
  • Artificial flavoring, natural flavoring
  • Caramel Color
  • Dextrin
  • Food Starch, gelatinized starch, modified starch, modified food starch, vegetable starch
  • Glucose syrup
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) and Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
  • Oats
  • Soy Sauce, Shoyu, Tamari, Teriyaki Sauce
  • Surimi
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Personal Care Items like make-up, shampoo, etc. can contain wheat ingredients.
Cross Contamination / Cross Reactivity

If you are needing to absolutely avoid gluten or wheat, know that cross contamination can happen with manufactured products. Unless they are a “gluten free” manufacturer, there can be small amounts of gluten or wheat that can make it’s way into the package. Most labels will have “made in a factory with …” and it will have wheat among the list. Know that you can react to those products.

Cross reactivity can happen when plants are similar and have similar proteins to one another. For instance, if you are allergic to wheat, there is a 20% chance you could be allergic to other grains. To make sure always get tested.

In Conclusion

Always get tested when you are questioning what it is you might have. Whether you have been diagnosed with a disease, allergy, sensitivity, or looking to limit your wheat intake keep in mind the list here. The other thing, is trying to buy and eat things without a label: fresh fruits, vegetables, other grains (can also have gluten-free on the package, like oats), nuts, seeds, etc. You won’t have to go as crazy as you might think reading labels if you eat whole foods that naturally do not contain gluten or wheat ingredients.

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Know Your Ingredients: The Many Names Soy

The next on my “Know Your Ingredients” posts is soy. It’s one of my worst and it’s partly because of how wide spread it’s used, like corn. It’s easy to get an overload of soy without even trying, especially when you have processed foods. It is required in the US and is a federal “Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act” that labels clearly list soy in the ingredients or it could be listed after the ingredients as “Contains: Soy”. Advisory statements like, “may contain soy” or “made in a facility with soy” are optional. Better to know what you’re reading just in case some of these words pop up on the list of ingredients. Let’s break down where soy can be found and what it’s used in.

Soy (or Soya) Products
  • Bean curd
  • Edamame (soy beans in pods)
  • Miso (fermented soy)
    • I use a chickpea miso that I’ve found.
  • Soy sauce
  • Soy based flours, nuts, or sprouts
  • Soy protein
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
Foods That Most Likely Contain Soy, and Will Need to Check the Label
  • Plant based dairy products: plant based milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, etc.
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Canned Broths and Soups
  • Canned Tuna and other Meats
  • Processed Meats / Frozen Burgers
  • Cereals
  • High Protein Energy Bars and Snacks
  • Plant-Based Protein Powders
  • Infant Formula
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Soy Lecitin: often used in chocolate bars/candy, peanut butter, and margarine.
Other Names that May Use Soy Ingredients
  • Glycine max
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Mono-diglyceride
  • Monosodium Glytamate (MSG)
  • Artificial Flavoring
  • Natural Flavoring
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Vegetable Gum
  • Vegetable Starch

Something to always remember as well, although you might find a brand of, let’s say bread, that doesn’t have soy in the ingredients, it doesn’t mean that it won’t change. They don’t have to tell you when they change their ingredients. It can be a safe bet for a little while, but I always check from time to time to make sure the ingredients are the same as before.

Know your labels. Although it’s good that most packaged food will list if there is soy and clearly state, “Contains: Soy”, it doesn’t mean it won’t sneak in with the vegetable broth or plain “starch”. As with any allergy, especially if it’s severe, be aware and educate yourself. Knowing is half the battle. If you are just learning about this or another allergy, know that it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at first, because it is. But know that the more you learn and the more you adapt to the changes, the easier it becomes and reading labels won’t feel overwhelming and you’ll find your new products and recipes to make in no time!

Food Intolerance or Food Allergy?

There are so many people with a food allergy or a food intolerance now that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the two. I’d like to take a moment to define each and show the similarities and the differences. Sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference but hopefully this will help.

Food Intolerance

A food intolerance is when the digestive system has a hard time breaking down a specific food and has an adverse effect. Take for instance “lactose-intolerance”. It’s one of the most widely known and it effects many. Lactose intolerance means that a person’s digestive system has a hard time breaking down and digesting the sugar lactose, which is found in cow’s milk. When your body has an intolerance it can show itself in many different digestive symptoms but sometimes can show as other symptoms like headaches.

Common Symptoms of Food Intolerance:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Headaches
  • Etc.
Food Allergy

A food allergy involves an abnormal response by the immune system. Which is why it can be hard to detect if it is an allergy or an intolerance. It doesn’t always have to result in an anaphylaxis shock which can be life threatening.

Symptoms of Food Allergy:

  • Skin rash
  • Sneezing
  • Drainage
  • Inflammation (skin, sinuses, lungs, etc.)
  • Asthma Attack
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Anaphylaxis

Can also be accompanied by:

  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomitting
  • Emotional Symptoms (irritability, weepy, angry, etc. shortly after having food)
  • Hyperactivity

There are a lot of similarities between a food intolerance and a food allergy, but an allergy specifically is a reaction of the immune system. To know for sure, it would be best to set up an appointment for an allergy test.

The Top 8

Here are the top 8 food allergens that are now clearly marked on the ingredient list of foods. The other thing to consider, is if you have been diagnosed with a food allergy, let’s say shrimp, then you would want to either test for other shellfish or stay away from other shellfish like crab and lobster. It’s a cross-reaction and most likely you can have an allergic reaction to these as well. Some other allergens are hard to see in an ingredient list because they might not be as common – like strawberries for example. Although the top 8 are now clearly marked on labels, it’s best to know how to read labels and ingredient lists to be proactive.

  • Cow’s Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

I’ve been posting about the different names allergens can be listed under, like corn, that might not necessarily be listed as that specific ingredient. Stay tuned for more, and visit the “Know Your Labels” page.

 

 

Know Your Ingredients: The Many Names of Corn

I wanted to start a small series about how to read ingredients. Although I suggest eating things without a label and ingredient list on the box or bag (eating whole, unprocessed foods), there are always things that will have a nutrition label and ingredient list like yogurts, cereals, oatmeal packets, etc. These in themselves might not be bad, but when you have a food allergy, knowing what some of those ingredients are can make or break it. I’m going to start off with one of the most diverse, corn.

Photo by Bart Heird on Unsplash
Corn

We’ve come to know and might have read or heard the reports of how much corn is used is everything, not just food. It’s quite remarkable, but something not so great for someone with a food allergy.

One thing I do want to know – If you have a corn allergy, how does it effect you? Is it more physical or emotional?

Just a little curiosity of mine… Moving on. Corn is becoming more and more of an allergen for people because of how much we can be exposed to it. One of the things my doctor asked my mom was if we lived in the country on the farm since most of the children and adults they’ve seen with a severe corn allergy were on a corn farm. Interesting huh?

Names of Corn

This list might not cover all of them, but I’m going to cover the major foods to watch out for and the names corn can be under. Here we go…

  • Corn flour, corn meal, corn flakes, etc.
  • Cornstarch
    • Can be listed as just starch or vegetable starch – be careful!
    • Watch out for baking powder. A lot just stay starch or corn starch, but have found potato starch.
  • Corn Oil
  • Vegetable Oil, Shortning
  • Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup (which also has multiple names)
  • Dextrins
  • Maltodextrins
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose or crystalline fructose
  • Ethanol
  • Maise
  • Zein
  • Sorbitol – artificial sweetener
Other Things to Consider

These are some things other than food, or commonly used in the kitchen, that you might not think about.

  • If you need to get a medication and have a severe allergy to corn, make sure the doctor knows so that the medications can be corn-free.
  • Cosmetic companies will use corn products as well so make sure to look them up.
  • Corn or corn products can also be used in brewing certain beers and fermenting wine.
  • Non-stick sprays will sometimes use maltodextrins.
  • Imitation flavoring extracts will use dextrose.
  • And then of course that lovely “sweet” seal on envelopes. I’m so grateful for the peel and stick kind for so many reasons!
Know Your Labels

It’s so important to know what you are putting in your body. When you eat less processed things and more whole food you can control what you are eating without going crazy reading food labels every time you turn around. But when you do get that delicious pancake mix, cereal, or your favorite condiment you can check the label for some of the major corn products in foods. Some companies will label corn under the “Contains” portion with the other top allergens, but sometimes not.

Knowing is half the battle!

Know Your Labels: Lactose-Free vs. Non-Dairy vs. Dairy-Free

Did you know that “lactose-free”, “non-dairy” and “dairy-free” do not mean the same thing? It can be confusing and frustrating, but it’s important to know the difference when you have a dairy allergy.

Why It’s Confusing
  • Something that is “Milk” doesn’t mean cow’s milk, or animal milk.
    • Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Soy Milk, etc.
  • Something that says “Cream” isn’t always cow’s milk.
    • Coconut Cream, Cream of Tartar, etc.
  • Just because it says “Butter” doesn’t mean it’s from dairy sources either.
    • Almond Butter, Peanut Butter, Apple Butter, etc.

Then you have things like:

  • Lactose Free is not Dairy Free
  • Dairy Free is not Non Dairy
  • Non-Dairy, you guessed it, is not Lactose Free

Confused yet?

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Lactose Free

Lactose-Free means that it is only free of lactose, a protein found in cow’s milk that people can have a hard time digesting. Many people lack a specific enzyme to digest this protein and are therefore, lactose-intolerant. There are lactose-free milks and other products, but that does not mean there is no trace of cow’s milk in the product. There are other proteins in milk that are used and can be in products labeled “Lactose-Free”. So good for people who are just intolerant to lactose, but not necessarily allergic to dairy all around.

Non-Dairy

This is one of the trickiest and the one that upsets me. You would think from the label there should be no dairy, or no cow’s milk in the product. Wrong! The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed products with this label to still have animal proteins found in dairy (like whey or casein) to be present. The products that come to mind the most are “Non-Dairy Creamers” like the powdered creamers, and “Non-Dairy Whipped Topping”. Both still have other components of dairy in their ingredients list, but it’s not “Milk” as a whole.

Dairy-Free

This is truly what it says it is. Dairy-free. At least it is for now. So if the product you are holding says “Dairy-Free” and you have a dairy allergy, you should be safe. There are a lot of non-dairy yogurts, cheeses, milks, etc. that truly do not have dairy components in them at all.

Read The Whole Label

Now with knowing the difference, I wanted to talk about a few surprising things I’ve found. There are a lot of vegan and vegetarian “dairy-free” products out there now. Some products are placed next to them and could be safe to assume they do not have dairy. For example: One time when I was testing out some different dairy-free cheeses I came across one right next to the rest of the truly dairy-free products. I read the label. It was a soy based cheese, so for myself I wasn’t going to buy it, but I was shocked to still see “Casein” (a protein found in milk and other animal products) as one of the ingredients. So all though it was “Non-Dairy” cheese, and the first few ingredients looked good and was plant-based, there were still milk based ingredients. Be careful.

Go Dairy Free.org has a lot of information on their site. Here is a Dairy Ingredient List they have that is pretty much all inclusive if you truly do have a dairy allergy.

Bottom Line
  • Educate Yourself
  • Know Your Labels
  • Dairy-Free (right now) is the Label that is truly free of dairy and all that comes with it
  • Know The Different Names of Dairy
  • Don’t get overwhelmed

It can be a hassle. It can start to be a headache, but you’ll realize a lot of the words are similar. Pretty much anything with “lacto” “lacta” “lactu” “whey” “casein” are things you need to stay away from. Buying things without a label like fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fresh meats, etc. you will not need to worry about reading labels or ingredient lists. When most of your basket at the store is full of those items, you won’t need to be reading everything you’re buying.

Work for your body so it can work for you.