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Why is Gluten so bad for Auto Immunity?

Gluten, the big bad protein that every one seem to avoid like the plague.

It is hidden is almost everything you find on supermarket shelves these days from the obvious:

  • breads
  • pastas
  • cookies
  • cake
  • oats and cereals

To the slight more inconspicuous:

  • flavourings on crisps
  • thickeners in jarred sauces
  • fillers in meat substitutes

But it’s not just food you’ll find the big bad G hidden in; it’s also lurking in medications, supplements, shampoos and body wash. I kid you not.

So what’s the big deal?

For those with gluten sensitivity (that’s an estimated one in 30 people) an intolerance or allergy the problem is obvious: gluten + body = feeling like crap. But for those with auto immunity the problem is not always as obvious.

There was a study done that compared the blood of 10,000 people from 50 years ago to 10,000 people today; it found that the number of people who suffered from of full-blown celiac disease increased by 400 percent during that time.

But why are we suddenly so sensitive to gluten?

For starters there’s our lack of genetic adaptation to various types of grass, and grains in our diet. Thirty percent of people of European descent are genetically predisposed to develop a gluten sensitivity despite it being a staple part of their diet since the Middle Ages.

Then there are the American strains of wheat; these have been genetically modified to contain a much higher concentration of gluten than those traditionally found in most parts of Europe. This strain of “super-glutenous” wheat has intermingled with almost all types now grown in the USA making even the most organic crops chock full of the protein.

Not to mention that modern wheat is not the same as the wheat our grandparents ate – debunking the the argument that gluten sensitivity is something people like to make up.

The modern wheat we consume is genetically modified within an inch of its life to create fluffier cakes, longer lasting bread and heartier cereal bars – plus you can now also get liquid gluten thanks to the wonders of science meaning you can now find gluten in products you probably wouldn’t imagine it would be in increasing our exposure ten fold.

The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten including:

  • osteoporosis
  • irritable bowel disease
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • anemia
  • cancer
  • hashimotos
  • grave’s disease
  • fibromyalgia
  • fatigue
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • lupus
  • multiple sclerosis
  • psoriasis
  • and almost all other autoimmune diseases.

This protein is also linked to a number of mental illnesses and neurological problems that include:

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • schizophrenia
  • dementia
  • migraines
  • epilepsy

Of course not all cases of depression or auto immune diseases are caused by gluten but it is important to have your doctor check for gluten sensitivity if you suffer from any chronic illness.

You wouldn't like me when I eat gluten!!

These genetic modifications have changed the way the gluten protein works within your bodies and can cause problems with your gut and your immune system – two things that are already problem areas when you have an auto immune disease.

Ingesting gluten, be it a bowl of pasta, a packed of crisps or putting on lip balm, allows the protein to enter your body; once it is in the blood stream it travels all over your body and eventually ending up in your small intestine.

Once there it triggers your body to release Zonulin, a chemical that signals your intestinal wall to open up creating intestinal permeability – otherwise known as leaky gut.

Normally, your intestinal wall allows micronutrients from food to travel back and forth without a problem but when Zonuline is released it allows larger proteins like gluten to come in and out along with microbes, toxins and partially digested food particles which are then released into your bloodstream. It is this leaky gut that often leads to you developing an autoimmune condition, and, if left untreated it can cause more to develop as your immune system marks all the foreign “bits” floating around your body as invaders and triggers inflammation to fight them off.

As far as our body is concerned, gluten looks a lot like our own tissues – its a phenomenon called molecular mimicry.

When your immune system attacks an invader it learns its structure in order to develop its defence for the future – like a most wanted poster stuck to your insides. So when two structures look the same it goes without saying that your immune system wont always be able to differentiate leading to a detrimental case of mistaken identity.

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to anything it considers dangerous, it can be a cut, a cold virus or a piece of sneaky gluten that slipped through your intestinal wall. Auto immune diseases are aggravated by this inflammation, when your immune system goes awol and starts attacking your own body.

It is estimated that 99% of people with gluten sensitivity are undiagnosed meaning that it is more than likely every day they are worsening their leaky gut.

Space invaders animation

A constant state of inflammation caused by a leaky gut will leave your immune system stressed and weak, it can no longer accurately attack invaders – like a broken arcade machine no matter how hard you try to move the joy stick your space ship just bounces from one side of the screen to the other. You immune system begins sending wave after wave of defences to attack what ever it can find – even the good stuff, and that includes your body tissue.

So just like anything that is stressed, your immune system needs a break. Research has shown that eating gluten elevates your these antibodies for up to three months. Meaning that even if you only ate gluten four times a year, your body would be inflamed for all 12 months; thus highlighting the need for auto immune sufferers to eliminate gluten from their diet – and therefore their body – entirely.

Keep in mind that food and products labeled “wheat-free” are not always gluten-free, gluten can be found in barley, rye and oats and other grains and sometimes can be contaminated by gluten products being produced in the same facility.

make up brushes and nude palettes

Where else can you find the big G?

Gluten doesn’t just enter your body in the food you eat; there are a number of other ways it can make its way in to your bloodstream that you probably haven’t considered.

Take a moment and think about all the products you use every day:

In the morning you probably have a shower, you use shower gel or soap, maybe you wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner, use a moisturizer on your face and body, maybe an eye creamafterwards you roll or spray on some deodorant. Then you style your hair, maybe you add hair gel, hair spray or a heat protection sprayPerhaps you put perfume or suncream on.

Then you might put make up on, primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter, blush, bronzereyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstickThroughout the day you might use hand creamapply a little more suncream or put on lip balm.

In the evening you probably remove your make up with wipes or make up removerapply your toner, night creammore moisturizer

That’s 29 products off the top of my head that could potentially contain gluten which you use every day. So when your make up, shampoo and body lotions are packed full of gluten it goes without saying that those proteins manage to make it into your system.

However, not everyone will react to the gluten found in products, in fact many probably wont as the gluten protein is large and often does not make it through the skin, but that doesn’t mean we don’t inadvertently ingest them. Touching food after doing your make up, putting on lipstick and licking your lips, bushing your teeth…it happens, the gluten gets in.

So if you know you’re highly sensitive to gluten maybe it’s time to switch up your products and medication; here are a few to get you started:

Gluten Free Shampoos:

  • Acure Organics
  • Alterna
  • Aubrey Organics
  • Beautiful Curls
  • Bumble and bumble
  • Burt’s Bees
  • Carol’s Daughter
  • Cotê Hair Hybrid Shampoo
  • DermaOrganic
  • Desert Essence
  • Dove
  • Ecco Bella
  • EO Essential Oil Products
  • Fairy Tales
  • Garnier
  • Gluten-Free Savonerrie
  • HBL
  • Head Organics
  • Head and Shoulders
  • Healthy Sexy Hair
  • Hempz
  • Hugo Naturals
  • Intelligent Nutrients
  • Jonathan Product
  • Juice Beauty
  • Kirkland
  • Morrocco Method
  • MyChelle Dermaceuticals
  • N4
  • Nature’s Gate
  • Neutrogrena
  • Nevo
  • Original Sprout
  • Organix
  • Paul Mitchell
  • Renpure
  • Sei Bella
  • Suave -Any wheat, barley, rye or oat ingredient will be clearly labeled.
  • Surface
  • Synergy

Gluten Free Make Up Guide

The Gluten Free Makeup, Skincare, hair care & body care list

Gluten Free Make Up Guide from GlutenFreeMakeupGal

Gluten Free Toothpaste

  • Arm & Hammer toothpaste
  • Biotène toothpaste 
  • Aquafresh toothpaste & whitening trays
  • Colgate toothpaste & mouthwash
  • Crest toothpaste
  • Oral B Stages kids’ toothpaste Oral B states: “There is no gluten used in the formulations, nor on the equipment used to produce any Oral B Stages toothpaste product.”
  • Orajel baby and toddler toothpaste
  • Sensodyne Pronamel toothpaste
  • Tom’s of Maine toothpaste

Gluten Free Body Lotions

  • Dove – The company clearly label and products that do contain wheat, barley, rye, oats or any derivative of gluten.
  • NOW Shea Butter
  • Green Beaver
  • Dessert Essence 
  • Mineral Fusion
  • Mountain Ocean Skin Trip
  • JR Watkins – All JR Watkins products are gluten free except the Aloe & Green Tea Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Savoneire
  • Kiss My Face – The Kiss My Face Vitamin A &E  Moisturizer, Honey & Calendula Moisturizer & Peaches & Crème Moisturizer are gluten free.
  • Burt’s Bee’s
  • California Baby lotions

Gluten Free Suncream

  • Coppertone
  • Neutrogena – Spectrum+, Oil Free Moisturizer with SPF, Healthy Defence Moisturizer with SPF
  • Banana Boat Sunscreen
  • Blue Lizard

Gluten Free Medication

Find a definitive list of all gluten free medication here.


Do you have any questions? Need some advice? Leave a comment below, alternatively you can drop me an email here:



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Why is gluten so bad for auto immunity


  1. gluten + body = feeling like crap. Well this one is enough to tell how I felt and loved your post. It was cool reading all the way down. Very informative. I’d suggest you to look up onto some typo errors.


  2. I truly did not realise the impact until recently the cons of gluten. I try and go gluten free as much as posisble, especially for dinner as it tends to bloat me.


  3. Wow, I didn’t know gluten could cause that many diseases. I wish the U.S. was as proactive as europe about banning ingredients that aren’t good for us!


    • Gluten isn’t bad for everyone, it just has a terrible effect on those with auto immune diseases. There is no need to ban it, but it is important to be aware that there are lots of products with hidden gluten in them.


  4. I’m on a gluten free diet so I can’t eat wheat and other grains and I’m having a hard time bulking up. I can definitely tell I’m getting stronger but I’m not really getting bigger.


    • Not all other grains have gluten in them, there are a lot of good grains that don’t contain gluten. Also wheat doesn’t particularly help when it comes to bulking so eating a gluten free diet shouldn’t have an effect on that it could be other things you are or aren’t eating. Also why are you eating gluten free?


  5. I keep hearing about how gluten is bad and I keep saying I’m going to try cutting back on it. This post might have just been the tip of the iceberg for me to actually do it!


    • It’s just important to realise how much gluten there is in the food we eat but that doesn’t mean being entirely gluten free works for everyone. Just remember to listen to what your body needs.


  6. I didn’t realize gluten was in so many other things. I don’t have gluten intolerance but it’s certainly worth thinking about cutting back!


    • It’s hidden in an awful lot of foods, and intolerance can develop from over eating certain foods which is why so many people are intolerant to gluten now. It’s just a good thing to be aware of.


  7. i am sensitive for gluten but i don’t have that celiach desease and I can eat small amounts of food containing gluten but not every day. For example if I eat a slice of bread once a month it’s ok, but if i eat 2 slices i get so sick – my stomach is hurting, I’m sweating and just have to lie down.


    • If you have a gluten sensitivity you need to be carful it doesn’t become an intolerance, but gluten once or twice a month is okay, just remember to listen to your body.


  8. This is very informative, we do try gluten free diet, but never thought gluten in toothpaste and body lotions etc… This is useful info! Thanks!


  9. I do not have any issues as such (or as I know) with gluten as of now. But I know, it’s not really good for me; thanks for sharing all the information in this really helpful post.


  10. A helpful and informative post. Not so many people are aware and using product with this. Thanks for sharing.


  11. From my understanding though, a lot of people aren’t gluten intolerant. They just want to lose weight. I have seen good studies that say gluten is part of our evolution and that we have eaten it for many many many years. That being said, there are people who are really allergic and it’s practically a death sentence for them.


    • That’s very true, but with auto immunity gluten intolerance essentially comes hand in hand. Not everyone should avoid gluten but that being said, it’s very easy these days to develop a gluten intolerance but almost as easy to get rid of it…


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