The latest research has shown that nearly 2.6 million Australians are avoiding wheat and wheat-based products.

Dietitian Michelle Broom presented the findings of the 2011 study at last week’s Dietitians Association of Australia’s (DAA) National Conference. 1024 participants ranging in age from 15-80 were involved in the study to help the Grains and Legumes Nutritions Council ascertain Australia’s understanding of the importance of a diet rich in wheat.

The study found that:

  • 16% of the 1,024 participants either limited or avoided consumption of wheat and wheat-based foods
  • Women are more likely to engage in these behaviours then men
  • 35% of the participants that admitted to limiting wheat consumption did so without professional guidance

Ms Broom says people who ‘self-diagnose’ a wheat intolerance could be missing out on important nutrients and could potentially be harming their bodies.

“Our concern from the 2011 study is that many people have based decisions on misinformation, and they need to seek a proper diagnosis before excluding these key foods for optimum health,” she says. “Alternatively, people may have a more serious condition, and incorrect self-diagnosis may prolong the period of ill health,” she says.

Wheat contains numerous vitamins and minerals that are essential to healthy growth and development.

“Wheat and wheat-based food products are widespread in the Australian diet and have been grown and consumed since the late 18th Century. Wheat is a key source of energy, fibre and B vitamins,” Ms Broom says.

The DAA stresses that if Australians believe they may need to cut wheat from their diet, they should consult a health professional first.