Can refraining from eating wheat cause wheat insensitivity?

Answered on August 27, 2014
Created August 13, 2014 at 2:03 AM

I've been having bleeding under the skin which I finally realized was a case of "solar purpura" or "actineal purpura". From what I understand, years of sun damage (from my childhood on a tropical island and years of driving with my arm on the car windowsill) damaged my collagen especially in my left forearm. It's totally painless, but a bit disconcerting to see blood slowly spreading under the skin on my forearms, and can sometimes cover a large area. This is apparently a fairly common condition in elderly folks, but at 54 I don't feel that elderly (another name for it is "senile purpura"--lovely!).

The weird thing is that I can trace outbreaks of this bleeding to eating wheat. When I'm completely wheat free the bleeding does not occur. When I have a little wheat, a few spots occur. On a recent vacation I had a few "dietary indiscretions" of a significant proportion, and it looked like I'd been in a bar brawl. It does concern me what else wheat may be doing inside my body, where I can't see it so easily. If anything, this will keep me more "honest" in avoiding wheat from now on.

I never really avoided oranges, but as I approached menopause I suddenly began having migraines every time I ate any amount of the fruit. This wheat sensitivity has just developed within the past year, I've been wheat free for 3 years.

My husband's "theory" is that I have become very sensitive to wheat because I don't eat it. He believes I lost the enzymes and bacteria that can digest wheat. He has never agreed that it's healthy to "cut out an entire food group" (grains), and that this is a side effect of becoming grain free. Any thoughts?

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on August 13, 2014
at 10:11 AM

Yes, it can, however, eating wheat while you might not have a visible sensitivity will not prevent its bad side effects such as causing leaky gut which ultimately ends in autoimmune disease. It simply causes tiny amounts of unfelt damage over time which is unnoticed until it reaches a critical mass at which point you'd get very sick from it.

Some of the side effects are in the joints and in the brain, you'd start to get forgetful or find its hard to think clearly, and find joint pains and thus feel its harder to walk. If you'd see a doctor, they'd just tell you those are symptoms of aging, when in reality they're subtle damage caused by grain ingestion.

If you stopped eating apples for a few years and started eating them, you wouldn't discover a sensitivity to apples all of a sudden. This is because there can't be anything inherently bad in (most) fruit, since it was evolved to be eaten so its seeds would be spread around by mammals. However, the same is not true of wheat - wheat evolved to prevent its seeds from being eaten, so it carries a host of antinutrients that actively attack anything that eats it. The same is true of soy and other plants we avoid on the paleo diet.

It's true that some plant toxins are beneficial to humans, i.e. caffeine, those found in alums, etc. But this is because those plants evolved to deal with predation by insects or other animals, while humans have developed defenses against them and are able to benefit from them.

For example, because of agriculture, and the practice of storing grains in silos and underground, mice and rats have developed the ability to eat raw grains without ill effect. We however get very sick if we eat raw grains, but the difference is that a mouse lives 2-3 years and has had an order of magnitude more generations to evolve that ability than we have had. Some humans have evolved the ability to deal with lactase, some are better at dealing with grains than others, but there's no universal evolution of humans to full adaptation to these substances.

It's not that grains are an outright poison to us, they're a very mild poison that causes subtle damage that builds up over time. As we repair our guts, reintroducing grains magnifies the body's immune response to them in order to let us know that what was once ok is no longer acceptable.

Indeed, one of the things many people who have gone paleo notice is that they no longer get so many colds and flus throughout a given year. This is because the immune system isn't as beat up and suppressed as it was when it had to deal with grain consumption as well.



on August 27, 2014
at 01:47 AM

Raydawg, I can't for some reason comment on your response.  I accepted your answer as I think you are right, but I do disagree with you about the apple analogy.  I think we can develop a sensitivity to any food, whether we evolved to eat it or not.  But I agree with the concept that the gluten sensitivity may always have been there but it was masked when I was accumulating so much damage from multiple sources. 

Medium avatar


on August 26, 2014
at 09:55 PM

I'd suggest trying n=1's with rice and sweet potatoes to see if it's a sensitivity to blood glucose. The wheat probably has to get to your bloodstream to have an effect like this.



on August 27, 2014
at 01:39 AM

I do eat rice, sweet potatoes, and such and don't see the bleeding with that.


Medium avatar


on August 27, 2014
at 12:40 PM

Hmmm. That does focus on the protein gluten then. I still doubt that there's a digestion issue, and lean towards an age related sensitivity. Any problems with dairy protein?



on August 26, 2014
at 06:42 AM

do you know what your Vitamin D status is...?

I was just reading that wheat/gluten impairs Vitamin D absorption/utilisation (google for articles/refs).

& Vitamin D deficiency seems to be linked to skin photosensitivity, so not a major jump to think that it may be playing a role in your solar purpura. Perhaps the wheat is 'draining' your Vitamin D stores & you are Vit D deficient.

So supplementing with Vit D may help (if you are deficient).

just a thought...worth getting tested if you haven't recently.



on August 27, 2014
at 01:43 AM

I've been 99% wheat free for three years, and I take Vitamin D supplements.  Last time it was checked I was at 40.  I can't get Kaiser to re-check it because they have determined that 30 is "good enough" and once you reach 30 they won't test it any more since they don't see a need.  I'm hoping it's a little higher than just 40 now, but too cheap to pay for my own test. 

Looking up skin, collagen, and bleeding disorders, vitamins and minerals implicated are Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, and zinc.  I eat tons of leafy greens, I added 1000 mg. C supplement, but I'm not supplementing zinc yet. 

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