Gluten Often Causes Brain Symptoms, Not Gut Symptoms

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Despite well-established research, few people know the common neurological consequences of gluten

Research shows most cases of gluten sensitivity manifest in the brain—not the gut. In fact, gluten’s impact on the brain is so well established that some researchers refer to gluten sensitivity as a neurological disease.

Gluten is one of the most immune-reactive foods—no other food is more of a trigger for neurological dysfunction and neurological autoimmunity than gluten, notes a research review published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.

This stems in part from the intimate relationship between the gut and the brain. The foods we eat and our gut health have a profound impact on brain health.

For instance, studies show immune cells in the gastrointestinal tract called enteric glial cells trigger the brain’s immune cells, or astroglial cells, notes another review, published in Science.

This means gut inflammation and food sensitivities can cause brain inflammation and trigger brain autoimmunity, accelerating brain degeneration and causing a wide range of symptoms, depending on the person.

Symptoms can include:

  • Depression
  • Brain fog
  • Memory loss
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Cognitive decline
  • Irritability
  • Poor focus and concentration
  • Neuromotor issues
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Early hearing loss
  • Neuropathy
  • Dementia, and so on.

Gluten Causes Brain Problems, Not Gut Problems: Study

Most neurological literature shows that gluten sensitivity can be primarily—and at times exclusively—a neurological disease, finds a research review published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.

You don’t have to have celiac disease for this to be the case, as it also holds true for nonceliac gluten sensitivity. However, celiac disease can also present solely as neurological symptoms.

Research shows that only 13 percent of people who have gluten ataxia (an inflammatory brain condition caused by gluten) have gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost 90 percent of these individuals didn’t have any gastrointestinal complaints at all, found a study published in the journal Brain.

When either celiac disease or gluten sensitivity causes brain symptoms, a strict gluten-free diet can bring about a profound reversal of symptoms.

You may also need to remove dairy from your diet, as it cross-reacts with gluten, meaning the immune system mistakes dairy for gluten due to the similarity of amino-acid sequences, notes a study published in Food and Nutrition Sciences.

By Datis Kharrazian

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