Health Column: Gluten hiding in health & beauty products |

Health Column: Gluten hiding in health & beauty products

Angela Wetzel
Free Press Health Columnist

Gluten has a way of playing hide and seek with us that live gluten free — it’s hidden in foods and products we would never guess.

For example, gluten is a binder in lots of health and beauty products. I bet you’ve never thought that maybe your toothpaste or lip gloss contains gluten. This also goes for products like hairspray, shampoos, hair coloring, lotion and so much more.

There is a lot of debate on the topic, especially since celiac disease is an autoimmune response which affects the small intestine; and beauty and health products aren’t typically ingested, or we don’t think they are.

The debate goes like this: Celiac disease affects the small intestine, so how can a lotion bother you? While the jury is still out, there is some thought that if you have a break in the skin due to a rash (which is a side effect of celiac disease) then it can be absorbed and bring back symptoms of celiac. Continuing to put these items onto your skin can continue to damage your insides. This argument changes when it comes to toothpaste, mouthwash and lipstick or lip gloss, as accidentally swallowing toothpaste/mouthwash or licking your lips and ingesting the wheat in lip gloss, after time, can cause damage.

I actually know someone who, when getting her hair colored at the salon, would end up with irritation on her head because the products used contained wheat. It affects us in many ways, because our immune systems aren’t completely intact.

Luckily, if you are gluten free, there are many products out there that you can use. First, check online for products that are safe. There are many companies that create gluten-free items. Second, call the companies to make sure or write a letter asking for a list of their gluten-free items.

I’ve made a choice to play it safe with my health and beauty items. I’ve got one life to live. Why take chances?

GJ Free Press health columnist Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.

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