Gluten Free Diet and Skincareby An Organic Conversation | June 18th, 2012
The term gluten-free has become quite a buzz-term lately. And whether or not it’s a food fad, there are a lot of people living with gluten sensitivities, gluten intolerances, and gluten allergies.
Each of these classifications (sensitivities, intolerances, and allergies) has their own definition. A food sensitivity is an adverse response to a particular ingredient resulting in an undesired reaction. A food intolerance is when the body cannot digest a particular food because it lacks the specific enzyme or chemical necessary to break that food down.
A food allergy, the most extreme of the three classifications, is when a person has an immune response upon consumption of the allergenic food. In the case of those with a gluten allergy, the lining of their intestinal tract is actually damaged when they ingest glutinous grains.
Gluten is a protein present in a handful of grains, including wheat, spelt, barley, and rye. In bread-making, a network of gluten strands is developed while kneading the dough which is ultimately responsible for the bread’s structure, and it’s the separation of gluten strands that creates flaky layers in biscuits and pie doughs.
While the range of reactions varies greatly, common symptoms of those who react to gluten include gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, achy joints, chronic fatigue, and skin irritation.
Many experts cite that an adverse gluten reaction can only occur as a result of gluten exposure to the digestive tract; however, there are people who feel they have topical reactions when gluten comes in contact with their skin. Those with severe allergies are also concerned that they may trigger a reaction by accidentally exposing their internal system to the allergen via hair care products getting in their eyes or mouth, or hand lotion coming in contact with the food they eat.
In the end, it’s our internal compass that dictates what allows us to feel comfortable, and if topical exposure to gluten is a concern for you, seeking out gluten-free body lotions, conditioners, and makeup will provide a bit of ease.
As far as our diets are concerned, Western societies consume far more glutinous grains than their alkalizing, non-glutinous counterparts, grains like rice, millet, quinoa, and buckwheat. These grains are nutrient dense complex carbohydrates that are terrific sources of vitamins and minerals.
Quinoa, for example, is rich in calcium and B vitamins. It’s also a complete protein, meaning all of the essential amino acids are present. These factors make it an excellent plant-based protein star in any dish. Millet is an anti-inflammatory grain, rich in magnesium and among the most digestible grains you can consume.
Just as I advocate to eat all of the colors of the rainbow because fruits and vegetables have diverse nutritional profiles, the same is true of whole grains. Diversify the grains you eat, and enjoy a more rounded, nutritionally dense diet that will reduce inflammation, possibly help you discover you feel better with different foods, and offer you quite a lot of culinary adventures to explore.
Sitarani Palomar, Holistic Health and Beauty Expert