Gluten and brain fog

Similar to my recent post on gluten and memory loss, gluten is also linked closely to mental “brain fog”. A feeling of confusion, reduced ability to think clearly, or make quick connections. Because we can’t feel the tissue in our brains like we can feel the tissue in our guts, we don’t necessarily identify the effects of a glutening on our cognitive function. But it’s there. In fact, unexplained brain dysfunction is seen in 6 to 10 percent of patients diagnosed with celiac disease.

Sadly, I find my brain is often in a fog. Case and point: I opened my kitchen cupboard yesterday morning to get out a coffee cup and I find this scene.

Yep. That’s the half & half that I used in my coffee the morning before. I put it in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator.

This happens all the time. Not just with the half & half, but I’ve found peanut butter in the freezer. I’ve inexplicably lost one flip flop somewhere in my apartment. I’ve looked for 30 minutes for my phone before remembering that I plugged it into the charger.

It’s like I’m 90 years old – my brain just misfires and it will just do things that make no sense while caught up in the fog.

So, what causes this annoying lack of mental clarity? Gluten, of course. Among other things.

The top three gluten related causes of brain fog are:

  1. Nutrient deficiencies – especially B vitamins and zinc. Due to malabsorption of these and other vitamins/minerals, the body and brain can start not functioning properly.
  2. Milk and dairy. Studies have shown that for many celiacs, eliminating gluten isn’t enough to completely lift mental side effects from the disease. Only when dairy and gluten were eliminated did their condition improve noticeably.
  3. Sinus congestion/pressure. Gluten can cause inflammation of the sinuses, which places pressure on parts of the brain and increases histamine levels.

With the elimination of every trace of gluten, and in some cases dairy, conditions in people with brain fog have been shown to improve, especially in children. In one study, a group of children who eliminated gluten from their diet raised their grade point averages from 2.5 to 3.9!

Of course, this is just more evidence that I really need to give up dairy in my diet. It’s something I’ve tried and something I dread actually having to do, but maybe it will help me stop putting my half & half in the cupboard 🙂


6 responses to “Gluten and brain fog

  1. I did a little research on this for school, because I suspected this, also having the same problem (once left an upside down tupperware container in a pot, meant to just leave its frozen contents..melted plastic, ruined pot; also dropped laptop, other things not as memorable). There has been some research on autoimmune diseases, like Celiac Disease, Diabetes for sure, about the effect on the brain, if you’re interested.

    For me I find that I have a sensitivity to caffeine, and it may be linked to Celiac Disease, as in an autoimmune attack on the liver, making it difficult to metabolize caffeine. Caffeine seems to produce worse, and more consistent brain fog than gluten. I never have caffeine anymore, not even chocolate, but still not sure whether it’s linked to CD or not. I guess there’s still a lot of research that needs to be done to understand the full range of effects of the disease.

  2. Some GREAT info!! Brain fog is one of the symptoms I was always complaining about before I went gluten-free. I feel and think SOOO much better now!!

  3. I went gluten free 2 months ago in an attempt to get my husband and daughter to follow. They have depression. I do not. But, good golly miss Molly! What a great surprise for me…my brain fog has lifted! I don’t know if I’ve ever, ever felt this clear! I am elated! I have been thinking for years that I was getting alzheimer’s…scary. Gluten was the cause all this time. I’ll never go back to gluten fog world.

  4. I’ve been white flour free for 2 weeks now and mostly gluten free. I cannot BELIEVE how much less arthritis pain I have. My allergies have cleared up, brain fog is gone and the (easy) recipes I find online for a gluten free diet are endless, and on my ipod touch apps. Trust me, if I can go gluten free anyone can. I was a huge bread/pasta addict and something finally clicked. Now, I don’t crave it at all. I’m going to test out some recipes for gluten free breads, but for now I really enjoy Udi’s breads and bagels (gluten free). Make sure to defrost them in the micro. for 30 seconds, then toast them. Best of health to you all.

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