Is there a link between the Brain and Celiac Disease or gluten-intolerance?
Many of us with Celiac or gluten-intolerance know pretty quickly when we’ve gotten “glutanized”. For me and lots in our Gluten-Free community, before the gut issues kick in… we feel the Brain Fog. And in recent years the scientific community is confirming what we’ve know forever: The Brain / Gut connection is REAL!
Turns out there are many gluten/brain related issues:
1) Migraine headaches: My first symptom – when I was 12, decades before diagnosis, was severe migraine headaches. I suffered for years! Miraculously, the migraines disappeared about 6 months into my new Gluten-Free lifestyle. In all my years of debilitating migraines, no one ever mentioned the possibility of Celiac Disease. Thankfully, the link is now well documented. In fact, in a 2019 study, 32.5% of people who had celiac disease experienced migraine without aura, while 15.4% experienced migraine with aura. A quick Google search will reveal a multitude of studies confirming the link between Celiac Disease and migraines.
2) ADHD: Seems we all know parents who have put their kids on a Gluten-Free diet hoping to improve behavior issues. Studies show that the presence of Celiac Disease is much higher in children and adults with ADHD compared to the general population. A gluten-free diet significantly improved ADHD symptoms in patients with Celiac Disease in one study. The results further suggest that Celiac Disease should be included in the ADHD symptom checklist.
3) Gluten-Ataxia: While rare, Gluten Ataxia is a neurological condition in which an autoimmune response to the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, and rye can irreversibly damage the part of the brain called the cerebellum. This can potentially cause issues with gait and gross motor skills, resulting in loss of coordination. Several studies show a gluten-free diet can help lessen or halt the progression the the disorder.
4) Depression & Anxiety: Research shows that people with Celiac Disease, especially women, suffer a higher than average rate of anxiety and depression. Read more about that here from Science Daily. Another study reported that “people who test negative for Celiac Disease but who have been diagnosed with gluten sensitivity also report higher levels of depression and anxiety”
5) Bi-Polar disorder & schizophrenia: In bipolar disorder, there are studies that indicate people with Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity may have higher rates of this mental condition. Studies looking at levels of antibodies to gluten in the bloodstream of people with bipolar disorder and found especially high levels in those in the midst of a manic episode. Regarding schizophrenia, research suggests that people with a genetic intolerance to gluten may also be at increased risk for schizophrenia. Investigators say the link, if proven, could lead to new treatment options for a small subset of schizophrenic people. Researchers from John’s Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health found people with Celiac Disease to be three times as likely as the general population to develop schizophrenia.
Of course, these are just a few potential connections between the Brain and Gut. If you’re still skeptical , I would suggest you consider this: Have you ever had “butterflies” in your stomach? Of course you know that feeling didn’t happen in your stomach, right? It was your brain that instantly instigated that feeling in your gut.
Based on my own experience and the research available, I believe there is a undeniable connection between the Brain and our Gut. I look forward to the continuing research that might encourage the Gluten-Free Diet to help treat more related issues.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!
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