Gluten and memory loss

Last weekend I bought some flowers for myself. I brought them home, carefully cut them, arranged them in vases, put plant food in the vases, and put them around my apartment. Anything fishy about that course of events?

I looked at them two days later and they were looking pretty droopy, when I realized that…yeah, I forgot to put the water in.

Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind. My short term memory is almost non-existent – and it can be so frustrating.

I’ve been reading up a bit on Celiac disease and memory loss, and it’s pretty fascinating (slash terrifying).  It serves as a reminder that Celiac disease isn’t an upset tummy – it’s an autoimmune disorder and can cause some major damage to the body and brain.

The Gluten Effect has a whole chapter on gluten and memory loss that describes two studies finding correlations between gluten intolerance and memory loss (along with other related symptoms like trouble with calculations).

Gluten can affect the memory in two main ways:

  1. The same antibodies that your body makes that attack your intestines when gluten is in your system can also attack brain tissue.
  2. Decreased levels of Vitamin B-12 due to malabsorption can also affect the memory.

File this under “learn something new every day” – for every one patient with celiac disease who presents with gastrointestinal complaints, there are seven patients with celiac disease who have no GI symptoms.

Yowza. The most common symptoms that people associate with Celiacs disease are definitely the GI ones – poor nutrient absorption, diarrhea, bloating. But there is also a whole slew of neurological damage that can be caused by the disease that, to me, is way scarier than the GI damage. It’s been linked to bipolar disorder, ADD, and even schizophrenia.

Moral of the story is that this disease has the power to affect more than our bellies. It’s also a reminder to me that I need to be all the more careful about cross contamination and what I eat to make sure that I’m taking care of my brilliant, brilliant brain 😉


6 responses to “Gluten and memory loss

  1. Hi Anna,

    So glad to have had the opportunity to read your blog post about gluten. I suffered with gluten issues for over 10 years without knowing what was going on. Mainstream medicine just fluffed me off and told me I as just depressed and prescribed antidepressants and Nexium for me. Meanwhile I was bloating out like I was pregnant…having diverticulosis type issues…I couldn’t think straight…I couldn’t remember what I had done 10 minutes before…very foggy thinking…my muscles twitched constantly and my joints ached like I had arthritis. I was truly suffering…constantly. I just felt so darned bad all of the time. Until about 3 years ago when a friend of mine, noticing my misery suggested I go totally off of gluten and dairy as well. I thought she was nuts…but I was so desparate I was willing to try anything. After only 2 weeks being free from gluten and dairy…I began to notice a MAJOR difference. I felt so good and I felt like my old self. I felt like a miracle had occurred and truly it had!!! I found relief. Now I constanlty scrutinize what I eat…I read every letter on the labels of my food. And there are still times when I miss something and end up eating something with gluten in it and I can tell IMMEDIATELY…and I usually pay the price anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks for just one little incident of gluten consumption!!! So I am writing a book on the subject and I want to help as mayny people as possible learn about this issue. I have considered getting involved with research organizations or support groups etc., do you have any suggestions? Looking forward to hearing from you. Have a great evening and again, thank you so much!!!

    All my best,


  2. I am a little confused. If you are GF, why are you still having ST memory problems and brain fog?

    I have CD too, and get blood tested fairly regularly. For about 1.5 years I was giving myself B12 injections and then about 2 months ago, I stopped. I recently had my blood tested, and my B12 and D levels, while within the range, were in the lowest possible range. So I guess I will start both up again. Sigh. It’s possible I have pernicious anemia, and apparently there is an antibody blood test for that.

    Like the blog, please feel free to recommend others in DC (not the burbs, DC). Thanks!

  3. Just found you! Been living GF for half my life… and so glad to see a blog like this. I really appreciate the reminder to be diligent about things … and that damage can extent beyond my belly! 🙂

  4. My doctor says that I do not have celiac disease but that I am gluten intolerant. I get bloating as though I am pregnant and it makes my clothes very uncomfortable. I have tried being gluten free but I am still having those symptons.I am very frustrated. It has only been 2 weeks that I have been trying to figure this all out but it is very depressing when it just takes so much energy and you feel as though your life will never be the same again. I have had so much neuroligical testing because of extreme memory loss and they found nothing but small white spots of no significance. they said it may be phsycological so I had a barage of testing done that showed nothing either. I was shocked when a friend of mine came in to work and told me abolut an artical that she read regarding memory loss and gluten intolerance.

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