What You Need to Know About Gluten and Mental Health
Many behavioral and mental issues are associated with dietary habits, and gluten has gained the overwhelming spotlight. Recent investigation into the effects of gluten-free diets suggests that many of these issues can be improved by altering dietary practices to choose gluten-free or gluten-restricted food. ADHD, depression, anxiety, and autism are among some of the disorders that can benefit from choosing a more holistic lifestyle,and gluten-free diet.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in foods processed from wheat and other cereal grains such as rye, barley and spelt. It is a glue-like substance used to give foods their doughiness and texture. Common foods containing gluten include pasta, couscous, bread, cookies, cereal, beer, gravy, crackers, dressings and even candy.
Problems with gluten range from gluten-insensitivity to celiac disease. Approximately one in 100 suffer from celiac disease and even more are sensitive to ingesting gluten. Gluten intolerance or sensitivity leads to a variety of emotional and physical discomforts. Celiac disease is an autoimmune digestive disease that damages the small intestine and prevents the absorption of nutrients from food.
The side effects associated with gluten intolerance and celiac disease include:
- Sleep disturbances
- Lack of energy
- Loss of appetite
- Poor motor skills
- Weight problems
- Cognitive impairment
- Joint or muscle pain
Evidence suggests that gluten intolerance may be at the root of many behavioral and mental disorders. It has been linked to:
Many of the symptoms that underlie gluten intolerance and celiac disease are common to behavioral and emotional issues.
For instance, irritability, hyperactivity and the inability to focus are symptoms that ADHD and gluten intolerance share. Muscle pain, fatigue and sleeping problems are common symptoms of both depression and gluten intolerance. Thus, a diet that eliminates or reduces the amount of gluten ingested can also serve to alleviate the symptoms associated with other disorders.
Switching to a holistic or gluten-free diet has been found to improve behavioral issues and cognitive functioning in troubled teens and young adults.
However, it is important to determine whether or not an individual suffers from gluten intolerance before making the switch to a gluten-free diet. Many gluten containing foods are rich in nutrients, and removing these foods from one’s diet means that these vitamins and minerals need to be replaced by incorporating other sources of nourishment. A nutritionist can help determine which options are right based on individual factors. Going gluten-free may be difficult at first, considering the prevalence of processed foods in today’s current dietary practices, but it can have many benefits that include increased physical and mental health.
To learn more about living a more Holistic Lifestyle and started a gluten-free diet, contact Rites of Passage Wilderness at (800)794-0980.