“Doctor my 12 year old breaks out every time she eats bread”.
“I recently read an article saying eating grains is the likely cause behind several allergies, skin issues, bloating etc. I am thinking of giving up on wheat. Will that help stop my painful cystic acne breakouts?’
“Is there a wheat allergy cystic acne link that doctors are not telling us about?”
These dialogs show that more and more people are becoming aware of the fact that whole grains can lead to all kinds of health issues, with cystic acne being one of them. It is estimated that nearly 85% people living in the United States alone suffer from acne at some point or the other in their lives. Acne is a skin condition that begins in the adolescent years, but many adults too tend to suffer from it. Acne, per se, is not a harmful health condition, but cystic acne can be downright painful, not to mention embarrassing. It can also lead to psychological issues like depression, social withdrawal etc. Most people also make the mistake of thinking that acne is just an aesthetic issue.However, new research is now showing that it is increasingly a problem of the gut. Unfortunately, even top dermatologists the world over are refusing to acknowledge this wheat allergy cystic acne link. As a result, more innocent sufferers are spending huge bucks on antibiotics and other topical acne drugs that do not cure the problem.
Gluten and acne symptoms: Should you give up wheat completely?
It is important to note that not everyone needs to give up on grains. Only certain people are known to have celiac disease which causes their gluten intolerance.This means that grains cause their immune system to literally attack their intestine. Apart from this, non celiac gluten sensitivity could also trigger inflammation and acne and is known to affect only 30% of the population.
So what causes gluten sensitivity?
When we eat grains, our bodies produce a substance called zonulin. Majority of the grains like wheat, barley and rye also tend to make our intestines more prone to leakage (or more permeable) leading to Leaky Gut syndrome. When this occurs; the partially undigested proteins leak from the gut into the bloodstream, causing the immune system to attack the body. This is one of the main reasons behind wheat allergy cystic acne.The attack causes inflammation which then arises in the form of acne, headaches, depression and so on.
Avoid grains if you have wheat allergy cystic acne
Today, many doctors are testing this theory on their patients suffering from regular bouts of cystic acne. Not only are they asking patients to avoid glutinous grains like wheat, oats and rye etc but all others like rice, barley and so on. This basically means going back to the lifestyles led by the cavemen– people in the Paleolithic era-that ate only meat, fruits and vegetables (since agriculture developed much later). Doctors are now suggesting that the human intestines are probably not developed or equipped to handle grains at all. As a result, all kinds of carbohydrates are getting the bad rap. Many experts are asking people to cut back on sugar, carbohydrates and all other foods that are likely triggers of acne and other similar heath conditions. The fact is that many carbohydrates as well as sugars found in high fructose corn syrup (which is the number one ingredient found in many ready to eat food items) is known to trigger not just inflammation but also playing havoc with the friendly bacteria in the intestines and the insulin production. All these factors are now linked with acne.
A 2007 study conducted on test groups having severe cystic acne were also put on gluten free diets for 12 weeks. The result: significant improvement in acne following the 12 week period.
So what should you eat?
Any diet that is rich in carbohydrates and sugar leads to increased levels of glucose in the blood. To combat this, the pancreas secretes excess insulin. Over time, as we continue eating high carb, high sugar diets, our cells start becoming less reactive to insulin, developing what is known as insulin resistance which is now proven to be liked to acne breakouts. So you must exclude all kinds of grains and sugars found in cereals, potatoes, pastas, breads, corn, rice and other processed foods.
Instead you need to eat fruits (but wisely since many fruits are full of sugar and can again lead to cystic acne) and vegerables. If needed, opt for low sugar fruits like berries, apples, pomegranates, kiwis and oranges etc. Strictly stay away from fruit juices, since most brands have added sugars in them. Go in for homemade vegetable juices and ensuring that you buy the organic varieties.
The whole mind body approach to fighting wheat allergy cystic acne
If you have been diagnosed with gluten related acne symptoms, you must take the following approach to clear up the skin:
- Avoid starch, fructose, sugar and grains- Eat more healthy fats and proteins including Avocado, walnuts, fatty fish like salmon, etc. Cook your meals in olive oil or coconut oil.
- Water– Drink at least 8-10 glasses of water. Hydration is the key to good skin, so make sure you drink adequate amounts of liquids devoid of sugar. Green tea is another beverage that can give you healthy skin. Make sure you drink enough to keep your urine pale yellow in color.
- Stress relief– Stress plays an important role in hormonal secretions. So do opt for stress relief in the form of daily exercise, Yoga and meditation etc. Ensure getting at least 8 hours of sleep daily.
- Eat naturally fermented foods and foods with live bacterial cultures to increase friendly bacteria. These will help ward of inflammation causing bacteria and clean up your gut. Such foods include Miso, kefir, probiotic drinks, yogurt etc.
- Take an Omega 3 EFA supplement– If you are not consuming enough fish and other foods rich in Omega 3 essential fatty acids, then opt for a supplement. This will heal dry and irritated skin and also fight inflammation.
- Use natural organic and gentle skin care products– Apply a few drops of oregano oil or Aloe Vera on the acne to heal it completely and prevent blemishes.
The wheat allergy cystic acne link is now established beyond reasonable doubt. Talk to your doctor, whether eliminating grains is right for you.