Wheat intolerance is more rampant than we realize, and it does your reproductive hopes no favors.
Most of us have heard of celiac disease, or sprue, which is gluten allergy. Gluten is a component in wheat, barley, and rye, and when patients with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging the lining of their intestines. That damage makes it harder and harder for them to absorb nutrients, leading to malnutrition and poor health.
But there is also wheat intolerance. Up to 15% of people have it, and most are never diagnosed because their symptoms are mild or inconsistent. For some of them, it depends on how much wheat they eat.
The problem is not just that it gives you digestive problems or even embarrassing problems like gas (yes, I said it), but it also makes your immune system react. Unlike celiac disease where the body's own cells attack the intestines, the immune system reaction to wheat intolerance is more generalized, causing eczema and allergy symptoms, for example.
To compound the confusion, there is wheat intolerance and there is gluten intolerance. Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye and barley. It is not in oats, but oats are usually processed on machinery that also processes other grains, so they get contaminated.
How do you know you have it? It's hard to know because it's not like the symptoms occur immediately after eating gluten. It's often a few days later that you feel lousy. For me, the reaction is the next day--if I eat a bowl of wheat pasta, I am congested the next day. I used to think it was the wine, but it is the pasta. I switched to brown rice pasta.
Like most food sensitivities, the key is to eliminate the offender, and see if you feel better. If you do after avoiding it for two weeks, you can try to add it back in and see what happens.
But in regards to conception, why does this matter? Conception is the result of a delicate balance in your body, and allergies lead to inflammation. Inflammation may be a factor in endometriosis, which can decrease conception. Excess grain consumption, whether you are intolerant of gluten or not, leads to insulin imbalance, another cause of inflammation. All in all, one of those "vicious cycles" we talk about, and it's easy to stop.