The effect of gluten on behavior has been studied in people with mild to extreme gluten sensitivities. Like many symptoms of gluten intolerance, these effects can range from slight to severe depending on the severity of an individual's condition.
About the Effect of Gluten on Behavior
There are many adverse conditions surrounding the grain protein gluten. Gluten sensitivities are very common, though researchers still have difficulty pinpointing exactly what it is about this protein that makes it such a highly allergenic substance. Of course, many individuals do not suffer any negative effects after ingesting gluten. However, there is also a category of individuals who simply do not realize they are, in fact, experiencing negative reactions to gluten. Instead, they write off their symptoms as either stress, indigestion, or numerous other diagnoses. Some individuals aren't aware of their symptoms at all and go their entire lives without realizing they suffer from a common food sensitivity or intolerance.
There are distinct differences between gluten allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances. Full blown autoimmune intolerances are typically classified as celiac disease. When your system is completely intolerant to a substance, severe reactions may ensue. Allergies will result in the production of antibodies, and sensitivities may result in similar symptoms of both allergies and intolerances. The differences between the three rest in the body's mechanisms, but the symptoms can be very similar. Therefore, when studying the effect of gluten on behavior, it is important to note that whatever your genetic predisposition to gluten may be, if your body doesn't like it, gluten should be eliminated from your diet.
Brain Function and Celiac Disease
Any substance that aggravates the body can cause numerous problems throughout the body. Celiac sufferers will endure the dismantling of their digestive tract as well as many other bodily tissues including the brain. When a celiac's immune system starts attacking the brain, symptoms can become very noticeable. Muscle twitches, tingling limbs, depression, panic attacks, chronic anxiety, and even schizophrenia have been recorded. Symptoms will rely on what specific area of the brain is being attacked, but a diagnosis such as schizophrenia represents some of the more severe cases. In the event of celiac disease, it is imperative that a patient receive treatment as soon as possible, and gluten must be completely eliminated from the diet in order to avoid permanent neurological damage.
Sensitivities and Leaky Gut Issues
When the body is sensitive to a substance it may react with an immune response or it may also fail to digest a food properly. Indigestion can lead to all sorts of gut related issues such as bloating, gas, and a change in bowel habits. Undigested food particles also become fodder for more harmful strains of intestinal bacteria which can multiply and become dominant within the digestive tract. An unhealthy digestive system often leads to intestinal permeability which is often called "leaky gut syndrome." When the intestines become permeable (celiac disease can also cause gut permeability), all sorts of undigested food particles can enter the blood stream as can certain microorganisms. At the very least, an individual suffering from such a condition may feel extremely tired due to the amount of toxic elements now circulating in his blood. Mdheal.org presents a decent illustration of leaky gut syndrome and it is important for individuals seeking optimal intestinal health to become aware of any underlying food sensitivities from which they suffer.
Behavioral symptoms of leaky gut syndrome will produce symptoms similar to celiac disease. Mood swings, anger, lethargy and apathy, and again, even severe conditions of psychosis may manifest themselves as a result of this toxic overload.
Gluten and Autism
Many doctors have made the connection between gluten sensitivities, intestinal permeability, and autism. This is why a Gluten-free Casein-free diet is often promoted by holistic doctors as a treatment for autism. Candida is a yeast that normally resides the in the intestinal tract of healthy individuals. In people with food sensitivities or certain digestive conditions, this yeast can thrive, enter the bloodstream in large amounts, and excrete neurotoxins as a byproduct. These neurotoxins have a profound effect on the brain over time and have been linked by some researchers to conditions such as autism. Although mainstream medicine is still wading around in the controversy, many parents are eliminating substances like gluten and casein from children's diets in order to mitigate the effects of autism.
If you have reason to suspect that gluten may be causing your body a great deal of stress, there is generally no harm in conducting a gluten elimination diet. When executed properly, an individual should suffer no nutritional deficiencies from eliminating gluten-containing products. Monitoring your reactions to the diet is key in determining whether this may need to be a permanent lifestyle change. Persons who benefit greatly from an elimination diet may unknowingly suffer from celiac disease. Since autoimmune gluten intolerance is a hereditary disease, undergoing testing and receiving a conclusive diagnosis may be helpful for immediate and future family members.