Should I Be Gluten Free?

Sitting around the Costhetics table at noon recently, one of our team noticed that no one was eating a sandwich.

Posted: 17 October 18

By Louisa McKay

There were lettuce wraps and grain bowls, bone broth and salads, but no sandwiches. The reason: most of the members of our team have sworn off gluten. As Australia’s leading resource for aesthetic enhancement and health and beauty news, we were already familiar with the waist-watching benefits of going gluten-free. What we didn’t know is that giving up gluten is also good for your skin. The good news came from our boss lady, Louisa McKay. “Giving up gluten may not be right for everyone, but it certainly was the right choice for me,” she says. “I’m stunned with how much better I feel and how much better I look, too.”

That was all we needed to hear. We wanted to know more, and here’s what we discovered…

Gluten & Your Gut

A gluten-free diet was once the domain of people with coeliac disease (CD). CD is an autoimmune disorder/allergy. It affects the small intestine and makes it difficult for people to digest food that contains gluten. It is not a deadly disease, but CD can make life miserable with symptoms including:

  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Flatulence
  • Anaemia

A relatively small number of people (about 1% of the world’s population) have a true gluten allergy, but a much larger number are sensitive to gluten and/or have trouble tolerating it.

Allergies & Inflammation

Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye and barley flours. It reacts when mixed with water in the intestine. Gluten can cause an allergic reaction, just like the lactose in milk or the peanuts in a Snickers bar. When your body senses the presence of an allergen, it goes into overdrive, fighting back against its effects. Wheat is considered one of the world’s top eight most allergenic foods by the Mayo Clinic along with:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (including cod and flounder)
  • Shellfish (including lobster)
  • Soy (derived from wheat)

In addition to creating inflammation in the digestive tract, gluten can also trigger skin inflammation, specifically:

  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Red, irritated skin

Read Labels to Avoid Gluten

If you are sensitive to gluten in your intestine, you may also be sensitive to gluten on your skin, too. Research published by the National Institute for Health Sciences in Japan accumulated data and found 1900 patients reported allergic reaction after using a soap containing hydrolysed wheat protein.

Keep an eye out for these common skin care ingredients all of which contain gluten:

  • Avena sativa (a type of oat, commonly used in lotions)
  • Hydrolysed wheat protein
  • Hydrolysed vegetable protein
  • Triticum aestivum (another name for wheat)
  • Wheat germ

For a skin care product to be considered “gluten free,” it must contact less than 20ppm (parts per million) of gluten. If you’re using a gluten-free skin product and still having problems with your skin, you may be allergic to one of the other ingredients.

5 Yummy Gluten Alternatives

“I cut gluten out of my diet, but that doesn’t mean I cut out good eating,” says McKay. She says she doesn’t miss gluten thanks to an ever-growing variety of naturally gluten-free ingredients that taste great and satisfy her needs for carbohydrate goodness:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Millet
  • Quinoa
  • Rice

Make Salad, Not War

Costhetics isn’t suggesting a war on gluten. We’re peaceniks. What we are suggesting is that you try eliminating gluten from your diet to see if it has a positive effect on your skin. Instead of a sandwich between two slices of bread for lunch tomorrow, why not try your sandwich fillings in a sheet of nori? You’ll be surprised at how amazing it tastes!

Bon appetite from all of us at Costhetics.