Does Gluten Cause Acne?

the pure life


It can be so frustrating when you find yourself struggling with yet another breakout and still can’t figure out why. I’ve been there. You start questioning everything: could it be that one piece of chocolate? Or the glass of wine? Naturally, many people end up questioning if gluten could be the culprit. But the answer to the question, “does gluten cause acne?” is not exactly cut and dry.

Does gluten cause acne: the key information

First off, let me clarify what exactly gluten is. Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, barley and rye. The current concern with gluten and acne is that it may contribute to a condition called leaky gut. Leaky gut essentially causes the intestines to be more susceptible to allowing unwanted substances into the bloodstream which can lead to inflammation in the whole body.

Let me get one thing straight – gluten isn’t necessarily “bad”, a few things have just gone “wrong” along the way.

Reasons why gluten isn’t what it used to be:

#1. Most (non organic) gluten-containing crops like wheat are heavily sprayed with pesticides like glyphosate which are incredibly tough on the gut microbiome.

Ever wonder why you can tolerate pizza and pasta in Italy but not back home? Yup – you guessed it – it could be because of the pesticides!

#2. Traditionally, gluten-containing grains have almost always been naturally fermented (think: sourdough bread for instance!). Fermented foods make nutrients more bio-available and protein easier to digest.

Curious to know why you don’t feel as bloated when you eat traditional sourdough? Yup, it could be because of the fermentation!

#3. When we consume high amounts of non-fermented gluten containing products throughout the day, this can be tough on our digestive tract, triggering an inflammatory response often resulting in “food intolerances”. As a gluten-intolerant gal, I know what it’s like to deal with this (and it’s not fun!).

Symptoms of gluten intolerance can include fatigue, bloating, brain fog, itchiness, anxiety and acne.

Does gluten cause acne: what if I don’t have a gluten allergy?

Now, you may be wondering if any of this applies to you if you don’t have a gluten allergy. The short answer is if you’re experiencing acne, it probably does. Leaky gut has been associated with inflammatory skin disorders and (yup, you guessed it) acne is an inflammatory skin disorder.

Because there’s no reliable way to diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, the only way to know if you’re sensitive is to cut it out and make note of any changes. For you, that especially includes changes in your skin! Most of my clients see a difference in their acne when they go gluten-free for at least 3-6 months. This gives the gut time to repair so that it’s only allowing skin-loving nutrients into the bloodstream and not any potentially inflammatory substances.

Delicious gluten-free options for clear skin:

I personally LOVE a gluten-free pasta as an easy, skin-loving dinner. These are my favourite gluten-free pastas that will have you saying, “that’s amore!”

You NEED to incorporate my acne-friendly pasta tips in this instagram post! I promise, you will not miss gluten.

For all of your baking needs, these are some great gluten-free options. Aside from being gluten-free, they are typically higher in skin-loving nutrients like protein, fibre and minerals than your typical white baking flour.

  • This 1:1 gluten free baking flour
  • Almond flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Oat flour (make sure it’s certified gluten-free if you’re intolerant as some oats are exposed to gluten by cross-contamination!) 

The best way to eat gluten for acne:

If you do find yourself wanting to eat gluten containing foods (foods made from wheat, barley or rye), opt for an organic product. These won’t have the harsh pesticides and other chemicals that conventional wheat products have. 

This is important because if gluten does contribute to leaky gut, then those pesticides and chemicals will be able to get into your bloodstream and cause inflammation (acne!) more easily.

Try to also choose fermented or sprouted wheat products for easier digestion.

Ready to see the gorgeous skin you can achieve through foods? Check out reviews and before/after photos from my self-led acne guide, The Acne Protocol HERE.