buckwheat allergy foods to avoid

Buckwheat Allergy Alert: Foods to Avoid

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Updated on February 9, 2024

Ever found yourself feeling a bit off after tucking into foods with buckwheat? You’re not alone, mate. In fact, our friends in Japan rate it as the sixth most common cause of food allergies! Despite this, UK law doesn’t require marking it as an allergen—that’s quite the sticky wicket if you ask us.

This article aims to clear you of any dietary mishaps by pointing out specific foods linked to buckwheat allergy. So, sit tight and let’s set sail on our journey towards healthier eating and jollier meals!

buckwheat allergy foods to avoid
A spoonful of buckwheat seeds

What is Buckwheat?

Buckwheat is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds. Despite its name, buckwheat is not a type of wheat or a member of the grass family like wheat. Instead, it belongs to the Polygonaceae family, which also includes rhubarb and sorrel. 

The seeds of the buckwheat plant are used for culinary purposes and are often ground into flour to make various dishes. Buckwheat flour is commonly used to produce pancakes, soba noodles (a type of Japanese noodles), and various baked goods. The grain has a distinctive, nutty flavour.

Buckwheat is known for being gluten-free, making it a suitable alternative for those suffering from gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Additionally, buckwheat is a good source of nutrients such as protein, fibre, vitamins, and minerals like magnesium and manganese. It is also considered a whole grain, as it retains its outer husk during processing. This grain is a healthy choice for most people but not for those with buckwheat allergy.

Symptoms of Buckwheat Allergy

Buckwheat allergies are IgE-mediated, triggering an allergic reaction. Symptoms can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. Some common symptoms of a buckwheat allergy may include:

  • Skin rash or hives
  • Itching or tingling in the mouth or throat
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
  • Abdominal pain, cramps, nausea, or vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

In rare cases, anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, can occur, which can be life-threatening. If you suspect that you or someone else may be experiencing an allergic reaction to buckwheat, it is very crucial to seek medical attention immediately.

Cross-reactivity With Other Grains

buckwheat allergy foods to avoid
A bowl of buckwheat

Buckwheat can act like a chameleon. It can confuse your body and make you think other foods are also causing trouble. This is known as cross-reactivity. Other grains, such as rye, wheat, and barley, might not cause any problem on their own, but in some people with buckwheat allergy, their bodies mix things up. They react to these grains as if they were buckwheat! 

Latex is another trickster for those with buckwheat allergy due to the hevein protein they both share. It seems that having a buckwheat allergy can feel like walking through a minefield! Because of cross-reactivity, everything could be fine in one moment and not so good in the next one. 

Does Buckwheat Allergy Affect Animals?

Buckwheat allergy can affect pets, too! Yes, our furry friends can also react badly to this grain. Pets like dogs or cats might get sick if they eat food with buckwheat in it.

Some signs that your pet has an allergy might be a lot of scratching or red skin rash. Sometimes, it’s worse; they could even struggle to breathe. It’s essential to take them to the vet immediately if this happens! Vets can do tests for buckwheat allergy on animals just like doctors do for people. That way, you know what foods are safe for your pet and which aren’t. Let’s keep our pets healthy!

Foods to Avoid for Buckwheat Allergy

buckwheat allergy foods to avoid
A bowl of buckwheat

If you have a buckwheat allergy, avoiding foods containing buckwheat or buckwheat flour is essential. Here are some common foods to look out for:

  • Buckwheat groats or kernels
  • Buckwheat noodles: In several Asian countries, noodles are made from buckwheat. For example, Japan has soba noodles.
  • Buckwheat pancakes: Many cafes use buckwheat flour instead of regular flour in pancakes.
  • Many breakfast cereals or granolas
  • Buckwheat honey
  • Some gluten-free products, such as bread, muffins, pasta, and snacks, may also contain buckwheat since it’s a popular wheat alternative.
  • Some multigrain crackers often contain buckwheat as part of their grain mix.
  • Cookies: Buckwheat flour is a popular choice for baking cookies.
  • Breakfast bars: Like granola, many breakfast bars use buckwheat because it’s high in protein and carbs. 
  • Dumplings: Did you know they can fill dumplings with buckwheat? Be careful next time you have these tasty treats.
  • Galettes: These are like French pancakes and are often made with buckwheat flour.
  • Porridge: Instead of oats, some people use buckwheat to make porridge.
  • Soups: They might thicken soups using ground-up buckwheat.

What Alternative Grains or Flours Can Be Used Instead of Buckwheat?

Many alternative grains and flours are available for individuals with buckwheat allergy, including rice flour, quinoa flour, tapioca starch/flour or potato starch/flour, which can be used in cooking and baking recipes as substitutes for buckwheat.

Diagnosing Buckwheat Allergy

Buckwheat Food Allergen Rapid Test

A healthcare professional usually diagnoses buckwheat allergy through medical history, physical examination, and allergy tests. Skin prick tests or blood tests can be done to identify the specific allergen that is causing the allergic reaction.

Managing Buckwheat Allergy

Here are some tips to help manage your buckwheat allergy:

  1. Avoidance: If you are diagnosed with a buckwheat allergy, the best way to manage it is to avoid all foods and products that contain buckwheat or buckwheat flour. 
  2. Reading food labels: Check the ingredients list carefully on packaged foods for any mention of buckwheat. 
  3. Cross-contamination: Be cautious about cross-contamination in the kitchen or when eating out. Make sure utensils and cookware used for cooking with buckwheat are thoroughly cleaned before preparing other meals.
  4. Alternative options: Explore alternative grains that do not contain buckwheat, such as rice or corn, to replace them in recipes or dishes.
  5. Consult a healthcare professional: If you suspect a food intolerance or allergy to buckwheat, it is crucial to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing your symptoms.
  6. Treatment: In case of anaphylaxis, immediate epinephrine (adrenaline) treatment is necessary. If you have been diagnosed with buckwheat allergy, you should carry an epinephrine auto-injector with you at all times and know how to use it.

It is essential to work closely with your healthcare provider to develop a management plan tailored to your specific needs. They may also recommend that you see an allergist or immunologist for further evaluation and treatment.

Tips for Managing Buckwheat Allergy While Travelling

When travelling with buckwheat allergy, it is vital to take special precautions and be aware of local cuisines that may contain hidden sources of buckwheat. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Research and plan ahead: Look up restaurants and food options in advance to find safe places to eat. Check menus online or call ahead to ask about ingredients.
  2. Pack your own snacks or meals for the journey: Bring along safe, pre-packaged snacks like fruits, vegetables, and allergen-free granola bars to have on hand when there are limited food options. Consider any restrictions on bringing food into other countries.
  3. Inform airline and hotel staff: Let them know about your allergy beforehand so they can accommodate your needs. Airlines may be able to provide allergen-free meals, and hotels can help make sure your room is clean and free of any potential allergens.
  4. Carry necessary medications: Always keep your prescribed epinephrine auto-injector with you, along with any antihistamines or other medications recommended by your doctor.
  5. Learn key phrases or carry an allergy card: If travelling to a country where English is not widely spoken, learn basic phrases to communicate your buckwheat allergy. You can also carry an allergy card in the local language that explains your dietary restrictions. 
  6. Familiarise yourself with emergency numbers and locate nearby hospitals or clinics.

Buckwheat Allergy and Food Intolerance

buckwheat allergy foods to avoid
A spoonful of buckwheat

Differentiating between buckwheat allergy and gastrointestinal intolerance to salicylates can be challenging, but understanding the symptoms and managing food intolerance related to buckwheat is crucial.

A buckwheat allergy means consuming foods containing buckwheat can cause serious allergic reactions like anaphylaxis, rashes, and difficulty breathing. On the other hand, gastrointestinal intolerance to salicylates can cause digestive symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhoea after eating foods high in salicylates.

Understanding the differences between these two conditions is essential because managing them involves different approaches. If you suspect you have a buckwheat allergy or gastrointestinal intolerance to salicylates, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing your symptoms.

Salicylate Sensitivity and Buckwheat Intolerance

Some people can’t eat buckwheat because it may upset their stomach. It’s known as buckwheat intolerance. At the same time, these people may also be sensitive to salicylates. Salicylates are in many foods like lentils, beans, and some fruits like strawberries or plums.

Having buckwheat intolerance and being sensitive to salicylates can give you an upset stomach. To avoid these unpleasant feelings, it is best to avoid foods that have them. Even small amounts of buckwheat could cause problems if you have this intolerance.

In conclusion, you must be cautious about your food if you have buckwheat allergy. Avoid widely available foods that contain buckwheat, such as multigrain crackers and granolas. Be aware of hidden sources of buckwheat in dishes like pancakes, noodles, and porridge. Also, consider any salicylate sensitivity or intolerance you may have. Taking these precautions can help you better manage your buckwheat allergy and prevent allergic reactions while enjoying your meals.

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