There are people who, after eating gluten-containing foods, experience a feeling of brain fog , unable to concentrate or think clearly. In general, they feel as if they have used some type of drug, or even think that they are in the early stages of a mental illness, such as dementia. 

In some cases, behind these symptoms and discomforts that can be repeated for years, a gluten intolerance is hidden  , since gluten is more harmful to health than people think.

Can gluten cause illness?

There is a lot of information about senile dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) . But it is very difficult to find information about gluten or celiac disease, but also about how foods that contain it can confuse or stun a person with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, resulting in inattention and alertness .

In this case, the fact that the brain is confused has nothing to do with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, or with dementia, depression and other mental disorders, despite the similarities that may exist between the symptoms.

Can it cause mental confusion?

There are many people who spend many years of their lives submerged in a kind of mental fog, they cannot concentrate, nor can they correctly process information at work or at school. This can happen several times a day or even more, but the causes that produce it are still unknown.

These discomforts may be related to the food consumed, such as a protein contained in the bread for breakfast, or in the pasta for lunch or dinner.  

Does gluten cloud your brain?

All foods that contain it come from cereal grains. Gluten is a protein that is found, in most cases, in cereals such as wheat, rye, oats and barley. Gluten can trigger the symptoms described above, especially in people who are more sensitive to it.

This is due to some reactions that take place in the brain, and that alter the delicate balance of hormones and some chemical elements.

omo consequence of all this, several long – term psychological problems may occur, but in most cases, cause mental confusion just moments after eating meal of gluten.

In many cases, this mental confusion is due to gluten intolerance or allergy.  

Gluten, the wheat drug

Gluten is very difficult to digest. In many cases, its amino acids are not broken down properly in the intestine and are fragmented. These protein fragments are called peptides and, depending on the state of the intestinal mucosa, if they reach the bloodstream they can alter other substances present in the body, such as endorphins, which perform important functions for the brain and are involved in control of pain, happiness and appetite.

Effects of gluten intolerance

Gluten peptides can trigger allergic reactions that manifest with inflammation. Unlike an insect bite, where inflammation is clearly visible in one part of the body, gluten-induced inflammation in the intestine is less obvious and its causes are generally difficult to identify.

In cases where gluten allergy causes brain swelling, it is even more difficult to detect. Brain tissue, unlike skin tissue, does not show pain, itching, or swelling.

Gluten intolerance and iron deficiency

Although intolerance originates in the gut, its symptoms are not simply limited to indigestion, but can also manifest themselves in the form of chronic fatigue, the cause of which may seem unknown to the naked eye. In other cases, gluten sensitivity can cause other disorders, such as anemia, and constant fatigue due to a lack of iron.

A poor absorption of iron is generally the result of a gluten allergy. In these cases, when it is eliminated from the diet, the iron begins to be absorbed correctly and the anemia disappears.

Gluten sensitivity can also cause the opposite effects of fatigue that presents as chronic nervousness. It can also cause problems with the skin and teeth. 

What effects does gluten intolerance have on our body?

Acid deficiency in the stomach

A poor digestion of gluten proteins and a lack of gastric acid can reveal that there is a gluten allergy or celiac disease. This can produce different consequences, among which are the side effects caused by the regular intake of medications that inhibit the production of acid in the stomach.

On the other hand, zinc and vitamin B6 deficiency can lead to some acid deficiencies in the stomach. On many occasions, acidification or heartburn can be due to unhealthy diets or the existence of celiac disease.

Damaged intestinal mucosa

When there is not enough acid in the stomach, the gluten particles are only partially digested, so they cannot pass through the intestinal lining, damaging the intestinal lining in the process. This problem can manifest itself over the years, without the patient recognizing the causes.

The main causes of damage to the intestinal mucosa are caused by a weak intestinal flora, due to excessive consumption of antibiotics, laxatives or other medications, high blood pressure or unhealthy eating habits that favor chronic inflammatory processes, such as fatty acid deficiency omega-3s or a lifestyle with little physical activity, little sunlight, or hormonal imbalance.

A gluten-free diet promotes alertness

People with celiac disease or a particular sensitivity to gluten experience many of the problems described above. That is why it is really useful to eat a gluten-free diet and thus be able to verify what the real effects are on the body.

Only then will it be possible to find out if the problem of lack of energy or concentration is due to gluten intolerance. To perform this test, a rigorous diet must be followed for at least four weeks in which no gluten-containing food will be ingested. This test can also be done with children to assess for gluten intolerance.

In case the discomfort is due to an allergy to gluten, you will begin to notice that after eliminating it from your diet, you will be able to think more clearly and increase your ability to concentrate and learn. There may also be an improvement in your mood.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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