First let me clarify that I don’t mean to be insensitive by using the term “crazy.” I know how hard a mental disorder can be – whether it’s anxiety, depression, or more serious disorders like psychosis and schizophrenia.
The reality of the situation is that these disorders are on the rise, and while writing about gluten for my upcoming ebook, I couldn’t help but find study after study relating gluten to mental disorders.
The main protein in wheat is gluten. It is made up of gliadin and glutenin. While this staple food may seem innocuous, science is just beginning to explore the gut brain connection, or how the gut affects the brain. From Harvard Medical School,
The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system. (emphasis mine)
Gliadin has been linked to psychosis and schizophrenia. It seems that the immune response for people differs. While some people may react with an attack of the bowel (celiac disease), others respond by displaying symptoms of schizophrenia or other mental disorders.
Individuals with recent-onset psychosis and with multi-episode schizophrenia who have increased antibodies to gliadin may share some immunologic features of celiac disease, but their immune response to gliadin differs from that of celiac disease.
Researchers have also found that children born to mothers with high levels of antibodies to gluten have almost double the risk of developing a psychiatric disorder later in life. This is not exclusive to schizophrenia. Research suggests that 22% of those with celiac disease will development some form of a neurological or psychological disorder; while as many 57% of people with neurological disfunction test positive for anti-gliadin antibodies. Fifty seven percent! That ain’t a small percentage.
Gluten has been linked to anxiety:
One study found that CD patients were significantly more likely to have state anxiety when compared to controls, and that after 1 year on a gluten-free diet, there was a significant improvement in state anxiety symptoms
Gluten has been linked to depression:
Ruuskanen et al.  found that an elderly population with gluten sensitivity was more than twice as likely to have depression when compared to the elderly sample without GS. Corvaglia et al.  have described improvement in depressive symptoms following a gluten-free diet.
Gluten has been linked to ADD and ADHD:
A few studies have suggested that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may be associated with gluten intolerance as well. A study measured ADHD symptoms in CD patients and found that these symptoms are “overrepresented” as compared to the general population. A 6-month gluten-free diet was reported to improved ADHD symptoms and the majority of patients (74%) in this report wanted to continue the gluten-free diet due to significant relief of their symptoms . (emphasis mine)
Gluten has even been linked to seizures (which I had a child – I also ate a lot of wheat) and autism.
Adopting a gluten-free diet has shown a lot of improvement in these disorders; but a gluten-free diet alone will not suffice. It’s ineffective to simply give up gluten and replace it with gluten-free processed foods (breads, cookies, cakes, etc.) It’s necessary to eliminate all inflammatory foods – vegetable oils, refined sugars, GMOs and all processed foods. Replacing these foods with organic, unrefined foods is ideal while adding foods that heal the gut, like bone broth, fermented food, cod liver oil and probiotics.
Books About Gluten I Highly Recommend: