I feel a bit mad asking this, but has anyone been 'glutened' purely by cooking with regular flour, without actually ingesting any?

It sounds a bit far-fetched, but several hours after baking my son's birthday cake yesterday (using regular flour), I had all the symptoms I normally experience after eating gluten. The only difference was the longer reaction time.

I can't think of anything else that could have caused this, as have been cooking all my food from scratch, so wondered if it was possible to be affected by airborne gluten.

I would be very interested to know what others think.

Thanks!

25 Replies

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  • As a messy baker, I would imagine there's some truth in your airborne suggestion. It's one of the reasons I'm not too enamoured with the GF blends as they usually make me sneeze! If I make icing then I can usually taste the icing sugar.

    Like I said, I'm messy but I don't think it's at all crazy to think it wouldn't get it in your mouth if you were preparing a recipe, especially if there's mixing going on. :)

  • I made my son 60 muffins to take to work, so they could be sold and the money go to the local hospice.......anyway the next day I felt yuk, just like I'd been glutened....so I think you hit the nail on the head.......about breathing it in....:)

    Janie

  • yes...I used to make soudough spelt bread for my husband...then wore gloves...then wore a facemask...now we have a gluten free house.

  • :-) in lieu of a like button!

  • yes i made some cakes for my hubbie and felt yuk foggy head ect but now i use gf flour he carnt tell the difference lol

  • Yes, my wife did baking for her mother's wake I had all my usual symptoms and not had normal flour since and yes there are Healthcare Ptofessional's that are aware of airbourne contaminants to coeliacs, not very many though.

  • The flour has to be ingested, apparently, so airborne particles are sticking to the lips and getting swallowed. Must be extremely small amounts.

    Makes me wonder if its safe when my wife cooks her bread-containing stuffing in our fan oven along with the Sunday roast.

  • To inhale any allergen is ingestion as it is entering the body and will work its way to many organs in the body.

    Coeliac foods should always be cooked at the top of the oven and normal foods at a lower level which reduces contamination risks.

  • Yes you can!

    Cross Contamination does not only occur from using the same cooking, eating and server utensils used on Gluten containing items, but also there is the unrealized airborne aspect.

    That is why we caution our newly diagnosed members in our group that anywhere Gluten Ingredients are used they should be on the lookout for airborne contamination. We advise them that they may react mildly or severely to the ingestion of the airborne gluten particulate. So, on those days they feel the ill effects of being glutened, do not only focus only on the foods eaten but also where they were, what they wore, the products they touched and used! Be the detective and investigate the clues!

    We let them know the safest home for coeliac adult or child is a totally gluten free home. But recognizing that this may not always be possible we provide these cross contamination warnings.

    For a Coeliac 1ppm damages the intestinal villi.

    * Ingesting less than 20ppm is considered safe (a healthy body can repair that damage without ill effects, but this may not hold true for a damaged coeliac body!)

    * Depending on the amount of damage done and or having a leaky gut, ones sensitivity threshold will trigger an awareness of being glutened. NOTE: This is always, well after a little or alot of damage is done!

    So be careful:

    - Of the items you touch and play with. (Especially noteable for children).

    - Of how you use and clean food prepartion areas, cooking and server utensil that are used on both gluten and gluten free items (contamination probaility here is always high).

    - Where people and animal food items are prepared from scratch.

    - When you open or are near opened packaged dry goods.

    - Of exposure when you live near or visit factories, stores and storage areas that use gluten to produce their products.

    - Of exposure when you live near or visit Farms, Zoos, or processing plants that have livestock (they use feed containing Gluten).

    You get the idea!

    Remember: You may have a mild or severe reaction to being Glutened. But it is always, well after a little or alot of damage is was done! So be Watchful to stay Healthy!

  • Thank you, everyone. It's good to know about this potential trap, if a little alarming!

    It's quite amazing how such small amounts of gluten can cause so much trouble. But at least I'll be prepared now. And any baking I do from now on will definitely be gluten-free!

  • "For a Coeliac 1ppm damages the intestinal villi.

    * Ingesting less than 20ppm is considered safe (a healthy body can repair that damage without ill effects, but this may not hold true for a damaged coeliac body!)

    * Depending on the amount of damage done and or having a leaky gut, ones sensitivity threshold will trigger an awareness of being glutened. NOTE: This is always, well after a little or alot of damage is done"

    Not always the case as villi damage is a long term thing not a one off exposure!

  • I became glutened by makng a cake !!! my own fault-- my treat was/is to lick the mixing bowl. I make my cakes then make the others (to avoid cross comtamination) so I licked out my bowl, and yes you guessed it --without thought licked out the other mix. Stupid girl ..

  • Yes i defo get symptoms

  • I got mild symptoms from playing with playdough, but have a GF recipe I'm going to try now. Feels like every month I discover a new thing to avoid.

  • I asked this question a long time ago here: Can I get glutened from the fields of wheat behind my house as far as the eye can see? I could imagine some gluten getting airborne at harvesting time.

    The answer was a definite NO!

    I could only get glutened by swallowing it.

    Should I start thinking about moving home? Should I stay completely clear of the bakery department in the supermarket?

  • My husband is a farmer who grows wheat along with other crops. Whilst it's growing there is no problem. I have had no problems being near the fields whilst he is combining. My only problems from ingesting is when I've been near the grain dryer whist it's got wheat in it. I also keep well clear of the barns where the wheat is stored. On the odd occasion that I cook with flour at home, I always wear a face mask. I do react very quickly to gluten, my DH flares up and then takes weeks to clear up so I don't like to risk it. When shopping, if my wheaties want flour or bread stuff then it's carefully put inside plastic bags to avoid any contamination, and I won't even touch a bag of normal flour. I also won't go anywhere near a bakery where flour if flying around. I do think you're safe at home.

  • Phil I'm not a scientist but unless you're breathing in the wheat when they're harvesting it I think you should be fine. If your regular gluten check ups are OK then you have nothing to worry about. It would be an interesting question to ask your Gastro at your next follow up ; ) Likewise the bakery dept in supermarkets - unless we're touching gluten bread and then touching our mouths or breathing in airborne flour (i.e. ingesting it) it's normally fine to walk down those aisles. However I only do so when I want to give the French sticks a good poke for being gluten.

  • Love the idea of you giving the gluten French sticks a sly poke, FionaGFG!

    Thanks again, everyone. It's been so helpful to read all your replies.

  • Fiona, I love the idea of abusing bread.....I may have to give the tiger bread a quick kick when I next pass one of those delicious looking loaves......GF bread does need to improve it's image....

  • I would like to take a large sign and post it in the bread isle saying:

    NUTRITION FREE ZONE.

    BUY YOUR EMPTY CALORIES HERE!

  • I love French sticks! I miss them more than anything else. I have fond childhood memories of them. I would sbeakily break the end off the stick every time my parents or grandparents put one in the trolley and eat it before we even got to the check outs. Nowadays I like to think of them as draught excluders so they don't seem as appealing anymore :D

  • It would be easy to feel depressed walking down the bakery isle in a supermarket especially when the wife takes hours trying to decide which bread to have. I can get two things out of the bakery isles when I look at the rows of bread, buns, crumpets and cakes.

    Firstly, it looks and smells lovely.

    Secondly I imagine it feeding a lot of hungry people who through no fault of their own don't have Coeliac disease. Try it next time you're in a supermarket bread isle.

    Confuscious say there are many pleasures to be got out of things you can't actually have if you look deep enough Grasshopper. Hope I don't sound precocious or smug.

  • Yes I also get a reaction if i am not careful when baking, ie i open the window, or leave my coffee nearby , and lots of hand washing and holding breath.

    I help keep a Georgian windmill open to the public, its nearby to me, i used to help mill but ended up with scarves round my face. Luckily if you stand outside afterwards, the wind blows most of it off your clothes! Anyway I avoid milling now, or just make the tea,when milling. I have done bagging the flour but try and delegate. Its difficult. I wasnt coeliac when i joined the society.

    Its a pain, and no mistake

  • If it is any help and not too late, the answer in my experience is a definitive yes.

    When I was first diagnosed I was working in a wheat bakery though no specialist would agree that there was any possibility that this was the cause of my problems.

    After 7 years of being gluten free and working in a gf environment I took work briefly in a supermarket bakery. After less than 6 months, I had a gastroscopy and endoscopy, both of which showed extensive damage to villi (flattened with no microvilli or distincitve features).

    I take from this that walking down a bakery aisle will probably do you no damage, but regular and consistent ingestion by breathing does cause damage.

  • Thanks for your response, Katethebake - you can't get much more conclusive than that!

    It's been so helpful hearing that 'glutening' via inhalation is possible, and I'm very reassured to know I wasn't just imagining things. I have now firmly banished regular flour from my kitchen and am experimenting with gluten-free versions.

    Thanks again for sharing your experience.

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