Grains can play havoc with your skin. The prolamin proteins, such as gliadin, trigger autoimmune skin reactions and turn antibodies against the skin, their lectins fan the fires of inflammation, their proteins provoke allergies, and amylopectins send blood sugar and insulin sky-high and provoke the skin-disrupting hormone insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF). The whole grain inflammation package adds up to an impressive collection of skin conditions that can take a variety of forms, from simple red, itchy rashes to scaly, oily raised patches to large vesicles to gangrene. Because hair and nails are also considered part of the integumentary system, they, too, can be involved.
Acne is a nearly universal problem in modern teenagers and adults. It is believed that acne is provoked by foods that trigger insulin and the hormone IGF. All grains raise blood sugar, and thereby insulin and IGF, to high levels, so they all share the capacity to create facial havoc. Sugary foods, such as soft drinks and candy also trigger insulin and IGF and can therefore share the blame as can the whey protein of dairy products that is unique among dairy components in its capacity to trigger insulin and IGF.
Repetitive high blood sugars lead to repetitive high insulin and IGF, which causes progressive resistance to insulin, leading to higher levels of insulin and IGF.
This cycle promotes acne. – Tweet this!
This common red rash typically occurs along the sides of the nose and on the eyebrows, chest, back, and scalp (where it is called dandruff). The Malassezia fungus causes this rash. Interestingly, the same fungus populates the skin of most humans, even if they don’t have seborrhea. The relationship between grains and seborrhea is exceptionally consistent and predictable. Seborrhea is very common in grain consumers. It is also uncommon for seborrhea to not to improve or completely disappear with wheat elimination. In fact, I will go so far as to say that seborrhea, especially along both sides of the nose, is the signature skin rash of grain consumption, especially wheat, rye, and barley.
Typically, these rashes improve or disappear within a just few days of grain elimination. – Tweet this!
Psoriasis is an annoying and sometimes disfiguring rash that most commonly occurs on the elbows, knees, scalp, and back. Psoriasis typically takes the form of raised red plaques with a white sheen and covers a large area, though several other forms can occur. Conventional treatment usually involves steroid creams; the use of drugs typically reserved for cancer, such as methotrexate; immunosuppressive agents, such as cyclosporine; and nasty (and costly) intravenous agents such as etanercept and infliximab. Treatment can go on for years, even decades, and is plagued by incomplete responses.
Psoriasis can be yet another form of immune reaction to fragments of gliadin and other grain prolamin proteins.
While psoriasis has also been associated with celiac disease, it can occur without celiac disease and can be associated with an increased likely hood of a positive (IgA) antibody to gliadin. Wheat germ agglutinin (WGA) blocks vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) that permits the skin inflammation of psoriasis to emerge. A diet absent wheat, rye, and barley has been shown to be effective in improving psoriasis, particularly in people with higher levels of the IgA antibody to gliadin. The Wheat Belly experience has provided relief to countless psoriasis sufferers, the majority of whom enjoy improvement or complete relief from rashes, though it sometimes takes months to achieve compared to the much more rapid response in cases of seborrhea.
The term “eczema” is applied to a wide range of rashes that are typically red, itchy, and raised and can occur anywhere on the body. Eczematous rashes are common; one third of the world’s population have experienced or will experience an episode at some time in their lives. Because eczematous rashes are, to some degree, driven by allergic processes, other allergic phenomena typically accompany eczema, such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and sinus congestion, acid reflux, eosinophilic esophagitis (esophageal inflammation) infantile colic, and allergic enterocolotis (small intestinal and colon inflammation).
People with celiac disease are three times more prone to eczema than people without celiac disease, while relatives of people with celiac disease (who don’t have celiac disease themselves) are twice as prone. Here’s the link to a relevant study.
Because eczema is common outside of celiac disease, there is no shortage of wild theories that blame this chronic, annoying, and sometimes disfiguring condition on everything from dust mites to neurosis to excessive cleanliness. As with any condition that is common and “unexplained,” we should always ask whether consumption of seeds of grasses might be at fault. Eczema has indeed been associated with various foods, including peanuts, dairy, soy, fish, and eggs, as well as all grains. Wheat, rye, and barley contain a smorgasbord of proteins that have been associated with eczema, asthma, and other forms of allergies. It remains unclear just what proportion of people with eczema can blame grains. Judging by the number of people who report relief from eczematous rashes within 5 to 7 days of giving up wheat and/or all grains, the effect wheat has upon this condition is substantial.
- APHTHOUS STOMATITIS
This a mouthful of a disease, more commonly known as mouth full of ulcers or canker sores. This can range from a minor annoyance to a debilitating condition that is sometimes so painful that it interferes with eating and speaking. This condition is really a mixture of responses triggered by different causes, and there is an increased incidence in people with celiac disease.
However, the gliadin and related proteins of grains are among the causes, and a surprising proportion of non-celiac sufferers experience relief from guess what? That’s right: adopting a grain-free diet!
The number of skin conditions caused by grain consumption are simply too numerous to list in detail here, literally numbering in the hundreds. This is not to say that grains cause all skin conditions, but an astounding proportion of them are. And what other potential cause is so easy to correct, no nasty oral or intravenous drugs required, while providing an impressive list of other health benefits?
Yours in grainless health,
Dr. William Davis