Gluten written by: padhia
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First of all, what is gluten?

In short, gluten is a special type of protein that is found in wheat, rye, and barley. Therefore it is found in most breads, pasta, cereal, and imitation (vegetarian) meats and meat substitutes. There are many grains that do not have gluten, such as rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, oats, soybeans, and sunflower seeds. For a more in-depth definition click here: Gluten on Wikipedia

Many individuals suffer from a gluten allergy, which manifests as mainly digestive troubles, known as Celiac disease. I believe just about everyone is affected negatively to varying degrees by gluten. The symptoms of which range in severity from weight gain, bloating, inflammation, acne, headaches, dysphoria, fatigue, difficulty in concentration, loss of recent memory, irritability, loss of pleasure and interests, depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances and even more extreme forms of mental dysfunction such as  autism, ADD/ ADHD, senility, and schizophrenia.

Sleep and dreaming are influenced by what is eaten in the evening; most people eat their largest meal in the evening and then snack at night. This food is digested and absorbed during the night and symptoms often emerge during sleep.  Sleep disturbances include difficulty falling asleep, aches and pains, frequent waking and nightmares. How tragic that usually people are prescribed highly addictive medications with terrible side effects instead of addressing the root of the problem.

Scientists and medical doctors have been studying the connection between gluten and brain functioning for the last 40 years, however it is only in recent years that this knowledge has become mainstream news. Perhaps it is because as a society, our gluten consumption is at an all-time high thanks to the mass consumption of fast food and processed foods. There is an overwhelming amount of research to indicate that gluten affects the brain’s functioning. Upon removing gluten from an individual’s diet marked improvement has been documented in cases of ADD/ ADHD, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, senility/ Alzheimer’s and autism, etc.

In my personal experience, removing gluten was a major key in my recovery, one that I stumbled on by accident. I had decided to go on the Fat Flush Diet, which is really just an elimination diet, where you eat only certain fruits and veggies and proteins and give your body a break from anything you might have a sensitivity to and all processed foods. After eating “clean” in this manner for two weeks, I felt better than I had in many years. I had lost several inches of bloating, saw a noticeable difference in my acne, had energy, no longer suffered from afternoon headaches, and periods of anxious over-alertness followed by a crash into fatigue. Well, for the most part anyway. The medication was causing that to some extent as well. But I realized that whatever negative effects I was feeling from the meds, I was using food to try to compensate and self- medicate. When I was “too up” and had nervous energy, I would reach for something carb-ridden and put myself in a bit of a food coma. Food would take the edge off, in some respects, but in other ways make it worse. The best thing about an elimination diet is the degree to which you feel the effects of foods when you come off the diet, because you have thoroughly gotten them out of your system. I was shocked when I first ate gluten after 2 weeks. Instantly I had an icky nervous, anxious  depressed feeling. My heart was pounding a little, my mind was racing. i was too tired to do anything but my head was spinning with all kinds of anxiety-driven thoughts. It happened pretty quickly after ingestion, and after not ingesting any more and drinking a lot of fluids,  I was back to normal by the next day or so.

While I was going through my detox and in the year or so that followed where my brain chemistry was still out of wack, ingesting gluten would send me into a pretty bad spiral. It was amazing how dramatically I could feel it. I find that these days, I tolerate it a lot better. I don’t eat it everyday, or in large doses, but I can eat a sandwich occasionally and have at least some of the bread without feeling any adverse effects. So I watch myself. While I was still on shaky ground I cut it out entirely, but these days small amounts in moderation seems to be fine.

Here are some articles I found online about gluten and it’s role in mental health:
http://www.suite101.com/content/happiness-with-gluten-elimination-a14168

http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/headaches-depression-nerve-damage-and-seizures-is-gluten-to-blame/

http://www.glutenfreedietbook.com/articles/index.php?article=21

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-sensitive_enteropathy

http://www.habitguide.com/blog/gluten

http://glutendoctors.blogspot.com/2009/04/gluten-sensitivity-and-depression-on.html

http://www.nutramed.com/brain/gluten_brain.htm

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  1. Peter
    12/15/2012

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