Gluten effects on the brain and performance

It is easy to get on a soap-box and start to spout about eating habits and following a healthy food regime, to be self-righteous and ignore the challenges of day to day life, our dietary inheritance and most of all the quickening life pace that most of us are forced to succumb to.

Taking a closer look at dietary inheritance, for want of better wording, is proving to have a large impact on our health and performance.   Our intestine is the largest organ in the body, and has enormous responsibility for delivering nourishment to the rest of the body.  The gut lining (mucosa) plays a huge role in immunity and our health in general and the link between the gut and the brain is becoming a commonly understood link.  Sensor cells in the gut lining differentiate friends from foe in what we eat, and send the message to other parts of the body whether to prepare for war or not.

There is more research now on the impact of gluten on human health.  One of the lead researchers is Dr Alessio Fasano of the Centre for Celiac Research, and he says “the gut is like a medieval city surrounded by a wall with its own army.  Lookouts, the epithelial cells sense danger, sample the danger and then send out the arms.  The immunoglobulins, the soldiers in the gut’s immune system arm themselves and produce weapons that can then be sent into the intestine, where as it thinks the battle is taking place “outside” of the body, when infact it is invades itself.  In a gut that has been made permeable by the consumption of gluten containing foods, such as the great British sandwich, the even greater British pie and cake as well as the British sausage, which is also full of wheat, all add to the permeability of the gut.

Fasano, in his book “Gluten Freedom cautioned “The gut is not like Las Vagas.  What happens in the gut does not stay in the gut!”.  Meaning once the gut wall has been permeated the rest of the body is subject to a whole range of diseases, including, but not limited to many autoimmune diseases.

Gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, and spelt has several noticeable effects (just after eating) on the body including:

  • Bloating and indigestion
  • Brain fog and fatigue
  • Energy slump
  • Headaches
  • Inflammatory bowel type symptoms

However, more importantly Fasano and his team have linked gluten sensitivity to autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease – Hashimoto’s and Grave’s thyroiditis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, and of course Coeliac and Crohn’s disease.  Is there a genetic disposition to autoimmune diseases?  Yes, however that does not mean the rest of us with no genetic link are exempt, and therefore what you eat, how you live life and how much stress you are subjected to or subject yourself to, all have a role to play in your overall health and wellbeing.

Therefore before rushing out at lunchtime and grabbing that quick sandwich, pastry or sticky bun, think about the path your are embarking on because you are may not just be causing yourself brain fog, fatigue and an energy slump?





Fasano, Alessio, MD, Gluten Freedom, 2014

O’Bryan, Tom Dr, The Autoimmune Fix, 2016


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