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by Glen Depke, Traditional Naturopath
Gluten sensitivity is most often thought of as a gut problem but for those that are gluten sensitive this is an even bigger brain and autonomic nervous system issue. As we learn more and more about gluten sensitivity it is becoming apparent that gluten destroys brain and nervous system tissue more than any other tissue in the body and this even includes the tissue in your gut. So if you feel as if your brain is not functioning at a high level recognize that a sensitivity to gluten can be causing an immune assault on your brain which will lead to brain inflammation and increase the risk for an autoimmune attack on your brain tissue. So if any of these factors resonate with you as listed below, be sure to read through this entire article. I’ll also add that approximately 86% of those with a gluten sensitivity are actually asymptomatic, so you may want to learn more about this regardless. Toward the end of this article I have also provided you with a link to a complimentary gluten assessment.
  • Does consuming grains make you tired
  • Does consuming grains make it difficult to focus and concentrate
  • Does consuming grains make you bloated
  • Do you feel better when you avoid bread and grains
  • Do you react to grain products
Before we go further let’s take a quick look at gluten. Often clients will ask me, “what’s the big deal with gluten all of a sudden?” While gluten has been a slight issue for thousands of years, the problem has grown tremendously in our more recent history. Recognize that gluten is not what it used to be. While gluten would not be considered “genetically modified” it has definitely been altered based on the fact that this is not hybridized and deamidated. When a food is genetically modified genes are either inserted or deleted but during hybridization an new protein is created by combining different strains of wheat. This can actually alter the protein sequence by as much as five percent which will create a  very different product than the original source The process of hybridization has created a “new wheat” which has been shown to trigger immune reactions which specifically affect the brain and nervous system. Deamidation is the other issue to address. This practice is used extensively in the food processing industry and yet another way in which gluten has become a further immune reactive food source. Deamidation uses acids or enzymes to make gluten water soluble when it is normally only soluble in alcohol. The reasoning behind this process is to make gluten easier to mix with other foods. While this will of course make wheat easier to use this has also shown to create a severe immune response in people. While some may look at hybridization and deamidation as progress, this is actually a significant digression for people and a definite challenge for brain function. While this information has been know for some time, I would share that the average neurologist has no idea that gluten sensitivity can create a neurological disease state. Scary but true! Let’s look a bit further into why gluten is so harmful to the brain and nervous system. Studies have found that gluten sensitivity is associated with disorders in every major part of your nervous system including the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that extend into the arms and feet. Gluten sensitivity has been shown to be at the core these neurological disorders below.
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Movement disorders
  • Sensory ganglionapathy
  • Ataxia
  • Neurolgical impairment
  • Neuromyelitis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neuropathy
  • Myoclonus
  • Apraxia
  • Myopathy
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Multiple systems atrophy
  • Cerebellar disease
  • Migraines
  • Hearing loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Dementia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Disorders in virtually every part of the nervous system
There are three main mechanisms that are creating these issue between gluten and your brain/nervous system.
  1. The first is tied into a cross reactivity where your immune system can mistaken one protein for another. The protein structure of gluten is similar to the protein structures of your nervous system so when your body is gluten sensitive and is producing antibodies to tag gluten for destruction, your body may “accidentally” produce antibodies to the nervous system tissue every time you eat gluten. If this is the case, you may be creating an autoimmune attack against your brain and nervous system.
  2. Another significant mechanism is the immune response against transglutaminase which are enzymes that help bind proteins together in the process of digesting wheat. Gluten can trigger reactivity to different forms of transglutaminase thus leading to autoimmune responses in the brain as well as other areas of the body.
  3. The other mechanism is tied into the fact that gluten can break down your blood/brain barrier. The this lining  protects the brain from exposure to pathogens and toxins in your body. Without this protection we increase the risk of autoimmune reactions in the brain and nervous system.
So please understand that there is no single dietary protein that poses a greater risk to your brain than wheat gluten and/or gluten in general. If you do have a gluten sensitivity or a full blown autoimmune reaction to gluten referred to as Celiac disease it is essential that gluten is eliminated for you diet completely. I know this may sound a bit harsh, but isn’t your health and happiness worth it? For those the question if gluten is an issue personally, feel free to visit this link to take a complimentary gluten sensitivity assessment. If you find yourself to be somewhat likely or very likely to be sensitive to gluten, I would suggest giving up this dangerous food source. If you would rather test this to be sure, there is only one test that I would recommend which is an Array #3 from Cyrex Labs. This is the most comprehensive testing for gluten sensitivity available today. Do not trust saliva testing for gluten or even blood testing for Celiac disease because neither of these look at the whole picture and one of the worst scenarios is to receive a false negative for gluten sensitivity. As an example I had one client use the Array #3 and while 23 of the 24 different components of gluten actually tested out negative, the 1 out of 24 actually showed an extreme reaction. This reaction was so strong that this had already shown to create brain autoimmunity. This definitely is not something that you want to miss. If you have any questions or comments in regard to this article, please post this below for us to respond to personally. If you would like to complete the Array #3 to test for gluten sensitivity, feel free to call Depke Wellness at (949)954-6226.