I spent the day yesterday learning about gluten's effect on the human brain. Let me tell you... it's pretty scary!
What exactly is gluten?
It's a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye grains. It's what makes bread dough sticky. The wheat of today is not the wheat of 50+ years ago. It has been hybridized to grow better for farmers, but in the process, the proteins within have been changed and many humans are unable to digest it. This can cause negative immune responses in any part of the body. Any individual with an immune system disorder is much better-off without gluten in their diet. There is a large spectrum of gluten sensitivity, the most serious of all is celiac disease. Doctor William Davis, author of the book, Wheat Belly, believes that every human has some sort of gluten intolerance.
Have brain fog?
Most people think of gluten sensitivity as effecting the gut, which is very common, but it is also very common for a person to be gluten-sensitive and have no stomach issues at all. Many times the brain is the target of gluten. According to Dr. Tom O'Bryan on the Dr. Lo radio show, every neurological or mental disorder has been at one time linked to gluten sensitivity. This includes conditions such as depression, anxiety, headaches, ADHD, autism, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease, etc. General brain fog from gluten is quite common.
There are many people in my family who have both pronounced gluten intolerance and mental disorders. I know that it's no coincidence that these are definitely related.
Can you go gluten free?
Of course! I have been gluten free for a few years. It was an incredible improvement to my health. The biggest changes I noticed were less brain fog, less inflammation in my body, and improvements in my skin. Dr. Amy Myers recommends going completely gluten-free for at least 3 weeks to notice a difference in the way you feel. Note: you may feel true withdrawal for 3-5 days, because gluten has opiate like reactions in the body. Trust me, it's worth it! There are good lab tests that have been developed in the just last 3 years to test for gluten antibodies in the blood (to determine gluten intolerance). However, the gold-standard test is just to try going off gluten and seeing how you feel, including if you feel crummy after reintroducing it into your diet.
There are lots of references to bread in the bible, in prayers, and at a Catholic mass. The wheat of Jesus' time was "einkorn" wheat, which was not hybridized. (Also, I'm sure 2000 years ago they didn't eat as much food as we do in modern times with our electric conveniences. Most people who eat the Standard American Diet eat gobs of grains at every meal, plus snacks.) The last gluten I finally gave up was the bread/host at mass. I just take the wine since our church does not have gluten-free hosts yet, but they are going to order them soon, yay!
So, I can't help but chuckling to myself at church when in my mind, I change "Give us this day our daily bread" to "Give us this day our daily avocado". Or, "Jesus is the bread of life" to "Jesus is the grass-fed beef of life".
Jenny Yelle, MHNE Holistic Wellness Educator
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