Okay, okay we’re unabashedly obsessed with Meghan Markle right now. From the contents of her fridge to her surprisingly simple acne treatment, we’re lapping up every bit of info about the royal-to-be.
In our most recent deep dive into the Markle archives, we found the one thing she gives up when she’s after glowing skin. In an interview with delish, the 36-year-old revealed that she notices a huge difference in her energy levels and skin condition when she cuts gluten from her diet.
"It gets such a bad rap," she explained.
"However, when I'm travelling, I won't miss an opportunity to try great pasta. I come back from vacation every year with a food baby, and I've named her Comida. I get to the set and I'm like, 'Hey, Comida's here, and she's kicking.'"
Some experts say there are benefits to at least cutting back on gluten consumption for gut health, which plays a role in healing skin.
A 2011 study led by University of Maryland’s Centre for Celiac Research suggests that for those with a sensitivity to gluten, it triggers the body’s inflammatory response which begins in the gut and spreads to other parts of the body. Plenty of research has posited the link between gut and skin health but more investigation is needed into gluten sensitivity’s direct impact on the skin.
“Gluten acts like glue in the intestines, impairing nutrient absorption and/or triggering inflammation in the body,” Fiona Tucks says in her book The Forensic Nutritionist. “Problems really arise when your diet is predominant gluten based – toast or cereal for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, biscuits with afternoon tea, pasta or noodles for dinner and cereal based malt drinks. Gluten overload!”
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Doctor Evan Hirsch told Mind Body Green that gluten can degrade skin health by causing hormone imbalance and inflammation.
"It increases inflammation in the body that causes stress on the adrenal glands (and subsequently the thyroid and gonads) and autoimmunity. This leads to dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-hormone axis, a decrease in the production of the hormones from the adrenals, thyroid, and gonads due to the stress, and increased autoimmunity to these glands," he explained.
But if you’re wanting to make like Megan and ditch the now notorious protein, there are a few things you should know. There’s been plenty of studies into gluten sensitivity of late and unless you’ve been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, cutting out your favourite carbs might not be doing you any favours.
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A 2014 study of those who had self-diagnosed gluten sensitivity found that it wasn’t gluten triggering their symptoms. The participants were cycled through high-gluten, low-gluten, and no-gluten diets, without knowing which one they were on at any given time. Researchers discovered a ‘nocebo’ effect in which participants expected to feel worse on the study diets, so they did, no matter how much gluten they were consuming.
That study, along with more recent ones, have suggested that other dietary triggers may also be what many have interpreted as gluten sensitivity. The real culprit could be fructan, a type of FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) carbohydrate found in a variety of foods.
So the bottom line? If you’re struggling with your skin and searching for an answer, speak to your GP or see a dermatologist.