The Gluten-Acne Connection

So, you changed your diet. You detoxed. You switched to non-toxic, more natural personal care and cosmetic products. You exercise. You try and keep stress to a minimum. And yet, somehow you still have acne that just won’t go away.

Here’s a thought….do you eat wheat, processed foods or use any products that may contain gluten (yep, makeup can contain gluten). If so, that may just be the culprit keeping you from kicking your acne to the curb.

And you don’t have to have celiac disease (an auto-immune disorder of the small intestine that prevents it from absorbing nutrients properly and can cause extreme pain and discomfort among other issues) to have issues with gluten. In fact, most people nowadays have gluten sensitivities.

The reason is this – nearly all of the wheat we consume today is genetically modified. The modified wheat proteins are structured very differently from the original wheat protein, however, our bodies have not been modified to use them. The result is that these modified gluten proteins are treated as “invaders” in our bodies and our immune system reacts by creating histamine, which in turn results in inflammation. And inflammation = insulin resistance, which leads to blood sugar issues, which again leads to acne.

Gluten also damages the small intestine (even in people not prone to celiac), which prevents our bodies from absorbing the nutrients it needs, causing vitamin deficiencies and toxic overload.

Also, most people probably aren’t even aware that they may be sensitive to gluten and even fewer still don’t know that it can be causing their skin and health issues. And even if you try not to eat it, it lurks in so many foods (especially processed), that it is hard to avoid completely. It is estimated that gluten can be found in close to 90% of the items in your local supermarket. Scary, huh? Even products like cheese and certain sauces can contain trace amounts in the form of vegetable starches and other additives. Likewise with some of the personal care and cosmetic products, such as toothpaste, shampoo and lipstick/balm.

So how do you avoid this little bugger? Well, the obvious is to eliminate gluten completely from your diet. Eat a diet high in organic plant foods, if you’re not already (and organic meats if you choose) and healthy, easily digestible grains such as millet, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice and buckwheat. Make sure that the non-toxic, natural/organic personal care and beauty products you use are labeled “gluten free” and “non-GMO”.  Also, supermarkets luckily have sections that are “gluten free”, which definitely helps. 🙂

Now, once you have made the choice to go gluten free, you can begin the process of healing your body and digestive tract and reducing your sensitivity to it. I’m not saying you will never again have issues with gluten, but you may get to a point where it doesn’t trigger such a strong reaction and wreck havoc on your face. One way to promote healing is through the use of probiotics, particularly ones that contain Bifidobacterium lactis, which has been shown to counter the harmful effects of gluten on the intestine. I do not recommend eating dairy or soy yogurt as a means of getting probiotics into your diet. Both are highly acidic in nature and pretty much negate most of the effectiveness of whatever probiotics may be in them (more on that in a later post).

What I personally do recommend is taking a probiotic supplement, such as Dr. Ohhira, drinking Kombucha (GTS and High Country are my favorites) and Kefir water, and eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi (oriental fermented veggies). Eliminating processed and high sugar foods will help to speed the healing process along as well.

Try going gluten free for a month and see if it makes a difference in your skin and overall health. You really have nothing to lose…except maybe some stubborn acne! 🙂

Peace and love,


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