Do you love bread, crackers and pasta? I sure do and I wasn’t about to give them up when I diagnosed with a systemic nickel allergy. You’ve probably seen how I enjoy baking all kinds of homemade pies, breads and other desserts with gluten. Perhaps you’ve wondered or noticed a distinction between white flour and whole grain flour on the various low nickel diet lists.
White flour, often also called all-purpose flour, is lower in nickel than whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, flaxseed flour and nut based flour. Is white flour the same as bleached or enriched flour? The short answer is most often yes, but always check the label to make sure. Here’s a great article about the difference between bleached and unbleached flour. As long as I eat something made with white flour and not whole wheat flour, I haven’t experienced issues with it being unbleached or bleached white flour. My preferred brands are Gold Medal unbleached all purpose white flour or King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour.
Cooking at home using low nickel cookware is recommended to be the best option for those of us with nickel allergies. Processed foods can contain hidden ingredients that aren’t always properly labeled or the manufacturer will change the ingredients and unless you read the label each time you might not notice.
Processed breads even made with white flour can be a challenge to find without soybean oil or soy lecithin. I used to purchase bread from a local bakery that used olive oil instead of soybean oil. Overtime it became really expensive and a hassle, so I began making my own homemade bread using a Cuisinart Bread maker I found at a local thrift store for $15.00. I didn’t want to purchase it new, because it does contain stainless steel and I didn’t know if I skin would tolerate it. So far, I love cooking my own white bread and using the bread maker and bread flour and neither seem to impact my skin.
Bread flour tends to be flour with more gluten or protein than traditional all-purpose white flours and can be white or whole grain. My favorite homemade roll recipe is this Sweet Dinner Rolls bread machine recipe that’s an absolute hit whenever we take it to a gathering!
Rice flour and banana flour are gluten free low nickel alternatives. I’ve wanted to try them both, but haven’t yet. I know some of us with nickel food allergies go gluten free as they cannot tolerate any wheat products. What’s tricky about processed gluten free products is many rely on the high nickel foods of seeds, nuts or soy to remain gluten free, which can pose problems for those with nickel food allergies. Gluten is also hidden in all kinds of things, like malt vinegar, medications and cosmetic products like lip balm and toothpaste.
In 2017 a study was published arguing that as celiacs disease becomes more common, there’s been an increase in individuals self-diagnosing themselves as gluten intolerant when they may not actually have celiacs disease. Though the study’s finding are intriguing, what I don’t like about this study is that 6 out of 60 experienced both a “non-celiac wheat sensitivity” (NCWS) and contact nickel allergy. The low sample of participants overall and who meet both requirements is such a small sample I question whether the data can be replicated with a larger sample. The authors do note “Consequently, our results cannot be extended to the broad population of self-treated or diagnosed NCWS patients. The sample size of NCWS patients was relatively small and it must be remembered that the general prevalence of nickel allergy in western countries is high and similar to the prevalence reported in NCWS patients in our study.”
Despite the study’s low sample, the question still remains. Can you tolerate white flour or do you avoid all wheat products by choice or because you do have celiacs disease or are gluten intolerant? I’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!