Can bread be the reason you’re feeling anxious and depressed? Do you know someone who has seizures but doesn’t know the underlying cause? Based on recent research, it’s quite possible that gluten is the problem. Gluten is often linked to digestive symptoms, however, there is also research that suggests gluten is related to brain functioning and mental health.
Here’s what a research review of 162 studies shows regarding the relationship between gluten and neurological and/or psychiatric symptoms (Jackson et al., 2012):
36 articles for seizure disorder
20 articles for movement dysfunction such as ataxia and cerebellar degeneration
26 articles for neuropathy, which causes weakness, numbness and pain related to nerve damage
20 articles for schizophrenia
14 articles for depression
12 articles for migraine
Up to 10 articles each for anxiety disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, autism, multiple sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, myopathy, white matter lesions
There may be a variety of reasons why a person is experiencing any of the neurological or psychiatric issues listed, however, it’s worth talking with your doctor if you suspect gluten might be part of the problem.
To read more about the relationship between gluten and the above listed diagnoses, go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3641836/
As a psychologist who has worked with children for some time, I have sadly seen children suffering with mental illness at young ages. Many times, mental illness is brought on due to environmental stress, genetic disposition or a combination of both. However, I have also witnessed times when a diet change has caused remarkable positive changes in children.
I worked with one little guy who had a rare genetic disorder for which he was receiving rigorous medical treatment. He was taking the treatments with few side effects and was doing well medically. However, he was very restless, had difficulty paying attention, and became very agitated very quickly if things didn’t go his way. Of course his mother wondered the usual things a mother would consider in a circumstance such as this. Is it the medical illness? Is it that she and her husband have been too easy on him because he is ill? Is the child depressed or is he suffering from bipolar disorder. He clearly needed some type of behavioral intervention, which is where we started after double-checking that he was medically stable. His mother and father admittedly allowed him to get away with certain behavior out of guilt, however, they were far more consistent in disciplining him. Behavioral modification was beginning to work effectively some of the time, however, he was still waxing and waning in mood and behavior. After months of working with him, I started to wonder if maybe there was a medical connection. However, we hadn’t yet examined what the child was consuming. While awaiting the next doctor’s visit, we spent the next few weeks examining what the child was eating. His mother began utilizing resources on nutrition and attention difficulties. She increased her son’s omega 3-containing consumption. She decreased preservatives and sugar. She also eliminated milk from his diet for a brief period to see if that would help. After just a few weeks of the diet change, the child began to focus better, was calmer and was able to express his needs more effectively.
Here’s a link for parents looking for information about the relationship between behavior and certain types of food.