There is growing concern about gluten and its presence in our diet. An estimated 1 in 133 people (or about 1% of the population) suffer from celiac disease, a condition where gluten (a form of protein found in some grains, like wheat) attacks the protective lining of the small intestine. 83% of people with celiac disease go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. Another 18 million, according to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, have non-celiac gluten-sensitivity, which describes those who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease.
The most common symptoms of both celiac and non-celiac gluten-intolerance are abdominal pain, bloating, headaches, muscle weakness, and fatigue, and can range in intensity from life threatening to hardly noticeable. In all cases, avoiding gluten is the only sure fire way to eliminate symptoms and improve health.
Gluten can also have an effect on your skin. As you’ve heard us talk about before, what you put in your body can affect your skin. Sugar, for instance, can result in rosecea, acne, or rashes. The same is true with gluten, which the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) identifies as one of the top 8 most allergenic foods. If you’re experiencing unusual skin rashes or have an ashy complexion, gluten might be the culprit. When a body is intolerant, gluten will spur an immune response that attacks the villi on the small intestine, which are vital to nutrient absorption. If a gluten-intolerance goes unnoticed, nutrients cannot be properly absorbed by the body, leaving skin, its health, and its appearance less than optimal.
Gluten is a notoriously tricky ingredient, hiding in more than just wheat. It can be found in soy sauce, ketchup, toothpaste, and cosmetics. The food aisles are starting to prominently feature "gluten-free" marketing labels, but the cosmetic industry is not as apparent. We have many customers who suffer from gluten sensitivities so we have formulated all of our products to be gluten-free.
For some, though, gluten can be a welcome dose of zinc and Vitamin E when applied topically. However, for others, it can exacerbate issues or trigger an allergic response.
Many of us can consume gluten without any issues, but for some it poses many health and skin issues. First, talk to your doctor if you suspect you have a gluten-intolerance. It is hard to diagnose (tests are limited and invasive), so we urge you to become your own expert. You may not be clinically diagnosed, but paying attention to symptoms and old school trial and error can play a role in determining if gluten is right for your diet or not.