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:
- 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:
- irritable bowel disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- grave’s disease
- rheumatoid arthritis
- multiple sclerosis
- and almost all other autoimmune diseases.
This protein is also linked to a number of mental illnesses and neurological problems that include:
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.
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.
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.
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 cream, afterwards you roll or spray on some deodorant. Then you style your hair, maybe you add hair gel, hair spray or a heat protection spray. Perhaps you put perfume or suncream on.
Then you might put make up on, primer, foundation, concealer, highlighter, blush, bronzer; eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lipstick. Throughout the day you might use hand cream, apply a little more suncream or put on lip balm.
In the evening you probably remove your make up with wipes or make up remover, apply your toner, night cream, more 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
- Aubrey Organics
- Beautiful Curls
- Burt’s Bees
- Carol’s Daughter
- Cotê Hair Hybrid Shampoo
- Desert Essence
- Ecco Bella
- EO Essential Oil Products
- Fairy Tales
- Gluten-Free Savonerrie
- Head Organics
- Head and Shoulders
- Healthy Sexy Hair
- Hugo Naturals
- Intelligent Nutrients
- Jonathan Product
- Juice Beauty
- Morrocco Method
- MyChelle Dermaceuticals
- Nature’s Gate
- Original Sprout
- Paul Mitchell
- Sei Bella
- Suave -Any wheat, barley, rye or oat ingredient will be clearly labeled.
Gluten Free Make Up Guide
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
- 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
- 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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