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Your Brain on Gluten

It has taken us over 200 years to discover and prove that gluten, introduced late into the human diet, can – and is – producing disease. Gluten, the protein in wheat, normally associated with gastrointestinal problems, is now clearly linked to dysfunction of the brain along with other systems of the body. It is eye opening to find that studies reveal 60% of those with any form of non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) do not have symptoms related to the gastrointestinal system, but which are neurologically based.

The more common neurologic disorders include chronic headaches or migraines, developmental delay, “brain fog,” learning disorders, and ADHD. However, at the top of the list are anxiety and depression.

Dr. Hadjivassiliou of the United Kingdom, a recognized world authority on gluten sensitivity, reports in The Lancet journal that “the antibodies that a person has when they are gluten sensitive can be directly and uniquely toxic to the brain.” In short, this means that a person sensitive to gluten may not experience gastrointestinal symptoms at all; symptoms may only be experienced in the brain.

Many people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can tell quickly when they’ve been “glutened,” often reporting that they can feel their brains clouding up and physical actions becoming slow and clumsy. This phenomenon is known as “brain fog.” Some people are more sensitive than others when eating gluten; some feel symptoms, some don’t. Yet there is no doubt that the detrimental (often silent) conditions do progress as you continue to trigger the IgG antibodies by continuing to eat gluten – whether you feel it or not.

Dementia sufferers and young and old suffering from epilepsy are commonly diagnosed with celiac disease, which is usually not uncovered until later in life. Screening for NCGS or celiac disease are not standard protocol, yet early diagnosis and removal of the “trigger” by implementing a gluten-free diet is a promising therapeutic intervention for these symptoms and conditions. Scientists are now even suggesting that at minimum, IgG anti-gliadin antibodies should be part of the routine investigation of all patients with neurological dysfunctions, helping identify a common marker of gluten sensitivity.1 It is interesting to note that in Italy, all children are tested for celiac by age 6 (see Gluten-Free Globally page 5).

With a reported 83% of gluten sensitive people still undiagnosed2 today, many integrative doctors all over the world are recommending and seeing great results on gluten-free diet trials with those suffering from symptoms previously mentioned, as well as neuropathy, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, insomnia, tremors, autoimmune diseases, and multiple sclerosis.

Yet, since research on non-celiac gluten sensitivity is in its infancy, not all physicians have accepted it as a “real” condition. Consequently, not all will provide patients with a clear diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, even if all the signs are present. Most doctors will gladly rule out celiac disease, but gluten sensitivity is not diagnosed by the same methods of testing.

Everyone should consider how gluten may be attributing to ailing symptoms, and ask your doctor or health professional about getting tested and starting on a proper gluten-free diet.

References: 1.) http://jnnp.bmj.com/content/72/5/560.full 2.) http://www.celiaccentral.org/celiac-disease-in-the-news/Celiac-in-the-News/161/vobid–9539/

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