Is There Gluten in Your Cosmetics?

gluten in makeupIf you have Celiac disease you need to know if there is gluten in your facial products and body lotions. According to a recent study by George Washington University researchers those with Celiac disease may not be aware that they are being exposed to gluten in lip, face and body products.

The study was prompted in part by the case of a 28-year-old woman with Celiac disease who experienced a worsening of disease symptoms, including gastrointestinal complications and a skin rash, after using a body lotion marketed as “natural.”

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. For most of us, gluten isn’t a problem, but for those with Celiac disease, gluten damages their intestines.

Researchers examined products from 10 of the leading cosmetic companies in the U.S., only finding two of the 10 companies offering detailed ingredient information. None of the companies offered gluten-free products.

“The findings are alarming because gluten-containing cosmetics can be inadvertently obtained by the consumer and use of these products can result in an exacerbation of Celiac disease,” researcher Dr. Pia Prakash said in a college news release. “This study revealed that information about the ingredients, including the potential gluten content in cosmetics, is not readily available.

Some smaller cosmetic companies specifically advertise gluten-free alternatives. Larger companies should inform consumers as to whether or not their products can be safely used by individuals with gluten sensitivity,” Dr. Prakash concluded.

(SOURCE: American College of Gastroenterology news release, Oct. 28, 2011)


Who is Buying Gluten-Free Products and Why?

gluten=free productA trip down the cookie aisle, with a stop in the baking, and in the pasta sections of your local supermarket and you will see a variety of newly added gluten-free products.

While it is great to see that children and adults with Celiac disease can now enjoy products usually made with wheat, it doesn’t explain the amount of new, gluten-free products now hitting our grocery shelves. Given that only about 1% of Americans have Celiac disease, we have to assume that a whole lot of people, that don’t need to buy gluten-free, are consuming these products.

Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told WebMD, “The market for gluten-free products is exploding. Why exactly we don’t know. Many people may just perceive that a gluten-free diet is healthier.”

For people with Celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential.  “Those who don’t have Celiac disease,” adds Dr. Green, “Need to be careful, as a  gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

Before going gluten-free, know that doing so means giving up many common and nutritious foods. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten also shows up in many whole grain foods related to wheat, including bulgur, farro, kamut, spelt, and triticale.

While gluten doesn’t have special nutritional benefits, many whole grains that contain gluten are rich in vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins and iron, as well as fiber. Studies show that whole grain foods, as part of a healthy diet, may help lower risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and some forms of cancer.

While there are a few whole grains don’t contain gluten, including amaranth, millet, and quinoa, they are far less common than gluten-containing grains and harder to find.

So, if you don’t need to be on a gluten-free diet, stick to your usual sources of whole grains to meet your dietary requirements.


WebMD Feature: Sept 2011

By Peter Jaret

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD


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