Gluten Grains and Mental Health

There has been a considerable amount of discussion recently about mental health and what more we can do as a society to help those with mental health issues. What never ceases to surprise me is the complete lack of discussion on the impact that what you eat can have on mental health. Depression is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the UK.

There are certain scientific facts that I would like you to be aware of. Gluten (found in Barley, Rye, Oats and Wheat) does cause our digestive tracts to ‘leak’. This happens in every human being for a few hours after digesting gluten. That is a fact. If you are someone that already has an imbalance in your gut bacteria (due to caesarian birth, not being breastfed, alcohol abuse, poor food choices, antibiotic use, chronic stress and regular medications) certain toxic by products and semi digested food particles can be ‘leaked’ through into the body. In certain genetically predisposed individuals these toxins and foreign food particles can cause a significant immune system response (potentially causing the body to attack itself, if the protein structure of the semi digested food is similar to that of the body e.g. the brain), as well as putting considerable stress on the already over-stretched detoxification systems. Secondly, some of the breakdown products of gluten during digestion are opioid (morphine) like. Opioids are addictive and if they make it to the brain, are capable of disrupting neurotransmitter balance. Either way there is strong scientific evidence to connect eating gluten with brain chemistry/structural disruption in certain individuals.

Repeated studies show that gluten does cause a significant immune system response in both schizophrenic and autistic individuals compared to the normal population. So, if you or a loved one are not feeling as good as you might like, you might want to try eliminating gluten from your diet. Maybe it is also time for psychologists and psychiatrists to seriously consider the impact that a gluten free diet might have on their clients?

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