ASCP Skin Deep

MARCH | APRIL 2020

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Gluten Free Diets Are they the cure-all for acne? by Alex Caspero Not long ago, I read a claim in my social media feed made by a well-known beauty influencer that eating a gluten-free diet helped her with her blemishes. She'd given up wheat for a few weeks and couldn't stop raving about her new, radiant glow. The conclusion she proclaimed to her hundreds of thousands of followers was that gluten makes various skin conditions, including acne, worse. Is that really the case? The science isn't as clear. WHAT TRIGGERS ACNE? Acne is considered to be an inflammatory condition, which means it can be aggravated by many things that vary from person to person. Some acne conditions are triggered by diet, others are triggered by the environment, and still more are triggered by hormones or unknown causes. It's impossible to say that acne is caused by one thing in every person, as the inflammatory process looks different in all of us. DO GLUTEN-FREE DIETS HELP REDUCE FLARE-UPS? Gluten is a group of proteins that are found in wheat and other grains. For some individuals with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, ingesting gluten causes an inflammatory response, which may or may not present with acne. There is no clinical evidence that gluten triggers acne breakouts nor is there evidence that a gluten-free diet will clear up acne. That's not to say there aren't individual factors at play, especially for the one percent of the population that has celiac disease, an autoimmune disease in which the body cannot process gluten. In fact, in this small subset of the population, celiac disease is also coupled with other inflammatory skin conditions, like alopecia, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis. However, for the vast majority of individuals, giving up gluten won't do a thing for problem skin. PINPOINTING THE CULPRIT Diet can still contribute to acne, though gluten is less likely to be the problem. While the evidence is small, there are links between dairy, whey protein supplements, and sugar intake when it comes to increased acne. Advise clients to keep a food log with notes about when they experience breakouts. This can help pinpoint any dietary connection. For the rest of us, we can keep enjoying products that contain gluten. As an aside, gluten is found in many healthful, whole-grain products that are packed with essential nutrients like iron, calcium, fiber, and folate. Gluten-free products are often higher in fat, sugar, and calories and lower in fiber. expertadvice FEED YOUR FACE There is no clinical evidence that gluten triggers acne breakouts nor is there evidence that a gluten- free diet will clear up acne.

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