The Connection Between Gluten and Acne

Gluten and Acne


How can gluten play a role in your severe acne?Acne is usually a reaction to the problems in your digestive system. Though it is not scientifically proven, gluten sensitivity could be one of the root causes. There is a connection between gluten and acne.  People who are sensitive to gluten cannot digest the protein and the large pieces of unbroken molecules enter the blood stream to be recognized as foreign particles.

The body’s immune system triggers a response that causes inflammation of the skin.


Another reason for skin breakouts could be that gluten damages the lining of the gut and causes the development of fissures which releases toxins. There are high chances that if you are not gluten intolerant, the reason for your skin disorder may vary.


The quantity of gluten in its sources can also determine its effect on your skin. Many people can consume adequate quantities of gluten before it harms their skin. Watch out for signs of constipation as it is an indicator for existing stomach problems. People who are sensitive to gluten can also experience other symptoms like headaches, weakness, muscle pain and bowel disorders. Insulin resistance has been linked to the formation of acne and can be caused due to the consumption of undigested gluten.


Studies show that even without being allergic to gluten, people who tend to avoid the protein lead a healthier life. This keeps the gut lining safe contributing to an improvement in digestion and absorption of nutrients, but it is most likely that gluten will cause acne if you are allergic to it.



Introduction to Acne


Gluten is a protein found inside wheat.Acne, the root cause for most adolescent and adult skin problems is a commonly found disorder. Although painless, it can cause deep emotional trauma and lack of self-esteem for the people who suffer from it. Studies show that adult acne is more painful and difficult to get rid of, especially if its onset is after 20s.


Usually affecting the face, it can also appear on your back, chest and neck. This condition usually arises when the pores, naturally present on the skin get blocked by dead skin cells and dirt causing sebum to be trapped under it.



This leads to the formation of blackheads and whiteheads!



In most cases, these disappear by themselves. If not, bacteria can settle under the skin and causing the reddening of the skin and it gets filled with pus. At times, this can lead to the formation of cysts and pustules.


It is a very complex skin infection, which involves the interaction of hormones, sebum and germs. It is not the cause of poor hygiene, but can be due to an unhealthy diet. Many acne sufferers experience depression because of scars left on the face after the pimple settles.



Causes of Acne


Various reasons can lead to acne in different individuals. Some of them can be:

  • Stress: Stress causes the release of cortisol in your body, which can promote the eruption of acne on your skin. It important to indulge in relaxing activities like yoga and meditation for the overall improvement of your health.
  • Unhealthy Diet: Doctors believe that your skin is a mirror to your digestive problems. An unhealthy diet can contribute to an increase in your skin disorders.  Certain foods also can change the hormonal balance in your body.  For example, coffee stimulates adrenaline and cortisol production while carbohydrates change insulin levels.
  • Sensitivity to Certain Proteins: People who are unable to digest proteins similar to gluten are likely to develop inflammation and scars.
  • Hormones: Hormonal changes during puberty alter the production of sebum. If excess of it is produced it can lead to the eruption of pimples and cystic acne.



What is Gluten?


Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and other grains, which makes the dough sticky and elastic. It is also available in products like shampoo, toothpaste and imitation meat as a binding agent.


This material is often found to be the cause of disturbances in our gut and is known to cause celiac disease in 14% of the world’s population. There is no guarantee that gluten causes acne, but it can cause inflammations if you are susceptible to an allergy or gluten sensitivity.



Celiac Disease


Gluten may cause digestive problems, possibly as a result of Coeliac disease. Which can cause severe belly aches.People suffering from celiac disease have an autoimmune response to gluten, which attacks their small intestine. This is a hereditary disease that can develop at any age and lead to the development of migraine and rashes on the person’s body.


Doctors have concluded that this could be another reason for the onset of acne. The only available treatment right now is a strict gluten-free diet.


The other symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Skin breakouts


If this disease is left untreated, it can have long term health effects like infertility, intestinal cancer, lactose intolerance and epilepsy.



Other Foods Which Cause Acne


  • Sugar and excess carbohydrates: A diet with high amounts of sweets will increase your blood sugar level and cause insulin imbalance which is a known promoter of acne. Avoid processed foods like crackers and chips and consume products rich in starches, with moderation.
  • Spicy food: Dermatologists believe that spices can worsen breakouts even if there is no concrete study to prove this conclusion.
  • Dairy products: Although the link between the two is unclear, research says that excess of dairy products like cheese and milk can increase breakouts and pimples. This can be due to high fat content or lactose intolerance.
  • Greasy food: The intake of greasy food increases oil secretion, which is the main problem for all skin disorders. Cut down on portions of pizzas, burgers and fries and consume healthy, unprocessed items.  These all contain saturated fats which have been known to cause acne.





It is best to consume a complete gluten-free diet to improve the condition of your skin. Visit your doctor to determine the root cause for your skin disorder. This diet is best for people who are suffering from celiac disease as it helps to stop the inflammation. It has fewer restrictions and you can consult a dietitian on the products that you are allowed to consume. 


Regardless of the presence or condition of your acne, the diet will promote healthy well-being.  And, will also help you lose extra weight!


Although be careful experimenting with your diet, there is the chance that you will not get sufficient nutrients for your general health. Set your system according to your new food pattern and remember to incorporate all the necessary vitamins and minerals that you have lost out on.


This diet is also gaining polarity by the minute as many celebrities like Miley Cyrus have opted for it thinking that is a healthier way to lose weight. Do not resort to it unless you have been diagnosed with an allergic reaction towards gluten.


Below mentioned is a list of all products that you should avoid consuming:

  • Wheat and its products: Steer clear from items like wheat starch, tetricale, ferina and semolina
  • Rye
  • Barley and beer
  • Malt and its sub-products like syrup, flavoring and vinegar.
  • Floured or breaded meat: Poultry items should not be marinated with components that contain gluten.
  • Imitation meat
  • Some over the counter drugs have traces of gluten that trigger allergic response. Check with your pharmacist before purchasing them.


Gluten could be responsible as a cause for your acneAlways ensure that the meals that you consume are completely gluten-free. Products like pasta and bread are available without gluten. Most nutritious food products do not contain gluten by nature. Incorporate beans, seeds and nuts in their natural, unprocessed form and consume eggs for proteins.


Fruits and vegetables are a must as they contain fiber, which helps you improve digestion and are rich in anti-oxidants that will help you clear your skin.


Rice in all forms should be consumed as they are gluten-free and contain starch for a balanced meal. Fish and fresh meat without any marination or application of sauces are also a healthier option. Here are a few tips that you can remember:

  • Start reading the ingredients on the food labels: This will give you a fair idea on what is suitable for consumption. By law, places in Europe will highlight allergens in bold. Lookout for mentions of any grains that contain gluten.
  • Consume grains and cereals that are naturally gluten-free: Introduce items like quinoa, millet, buckwheat and corn in your diet. Check thoroughly to ensure that they have not been cross contaminated.
  • Choose alcohol wisely: Beer, ales and lagers contain varying amount of gluten and are not suitable for people with gluten sensitivity. Opt for wines, sherry, spirit, liqueur and other distilled beverages that will also encourage a clear skin.
  • Make your kitchen your best friend: Experiment with new dishes and ingredients that are completely safe for intake. This will help you develop your taste for a diet that differs from your norm. You will also enjoy preparing food according to your requirements.
  • Enjoy your meals: With a change in your daily food menu, it is possible to miss the products that you cannot consume. Make positive impacts by relishing items that you are allowed to eat. This will also help you improve your digestion and skin.


Drink plenty of water to help you flush out the toxins and facilitate cell repair. Focus on adequate amount of exercise and incorporate food, which have a high nutritional content and probiotics, which neutralize the bacteria in your gut. Greek yogurt is a great example.  Gluten-free substitutes of pasta and bread are also available in most supermarkets. Food stores now contain a variety of options that will help you bake and prepare your own dishes easily without relying on processed food.


Consuming fermented food is also a good choice, because it promotes the growth of healthy gut flora. Studies show that natural oils like castor, oregano and tea tree help reduce the infection and scars.




Gluten free foods like sorghum and rice are a good replacement.The Codex Alimentarius International standards for food labeling determine the factors that mention gluten as part of the ingredients. Throughout the world, food labels indicate whether they are gluten free or not. Any food that contains below 20 ppm of gluten is considered safe. The categories are defined according to:

  • Food which is naturally gluten-free
  • Food which is gluten-free due to processing
  • Food which contains 20 to 100 ppm of gluten


Most countries like Australia, Brazil and UK encourage the indication of gluten on food labels and also mention the quantity contained in the packets.



Skin Care for Acne


An acne prone skin is sensitive and requires constant attention. Here are a few tips to keep in mind for clear skin.

  • Limiting the Products on Your Face: Having oily and sensitive skin doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy products to counter what you think your skin is doing. Only use water to wash your face, pat with a soft towel.  Half of the people I meet wouldn’t have acne if they just left their skin alone.  How is your face supposed to return to a natural state if you keep plastering on chemicals.  Try a mud mask, one rich in minerals.
  • Avoid touching your face: Keep them away from your skin at all times as they accumulate dust and grime, which in turn affects your skin. It also spreads the growth of bacteria, which can cause scarring and irritation.
  • Keep your hair clean: The impurities from your scalp can cause rashes on your face. Keep in mind to use mild shampoos, hairsprays and other products that cause no adverse reaction on your skin and do not promote the growth of acne.  A great shampoo also is one that is sulfate and silicone-free.
  • Keep the use of makeup to a minimum: Makeup products block pores, which give rise to pimples, blackheads and whiteheads. Avoid the use of foundation, powder or blush as it does not help your skin breathe. Read the ingredients carefully before you purchase any item and ensure that it is skin friendly.


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