Do you feel like grain consumption makes it difficult to focus or concentrate? Or does grain consumption make you feel like it leads to tiredness? Do you feel like grain consumption causes the development of any symptoms? Are you on a 100% gluten-free diet? Diet and environmental factors can affect brain health. Researchers and healthcare professionals have associated one specific component with neurological disease: gluten.
Brain health issues and neurological diseases have tremendously increased over the last several years. As a matter of fact, approximately 20 percent of adults in the United States have a diagnosable mental disorder and unfortunately, those statistics are expected to increase over the next few years. Depression is the most common cause of disability worldwide while anxiety affects more than 40 million Americans today. Moreover, Alzheimer’s disease is currently the sixth-leading cause of mortality in the United States.
A 2013 research study demonstrated that deaths associated with brain diseased have increased 66 percent in men and 92 percent in women since 1979. And, there’s one factor that all of these brain health issues and neurological diseases have in common: inflammation. Foods play a fundamental role in inflammation. There are many foods that will increase inflammation in the brain and body, arguably the biggest culprit is gluten.
How Does Gluten Affect the Brain?
While only one percent of Americans are diagnosed with celiac disease every year, there are probably many more under-diagnosed cases. As a matter of fact, only 10 percent of people with celiac disease show obvious symptoms. Research studies suggest that celiac disease can ultimately manifest as a neurological disease. However, celiac disease is a severe gluten sensitivity-autoimmune disorder, where there’s also approximately 1 in 20 people in the United States living with another health issue known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Gluten has been demonstrated to increase levels of the protein zonulin in the gut which may ultimately lead to leaky gut syndrome. This gut permeability causes undigested food proteins and bacterial endotoxins to pass into the bloodstream, triggering an inflammatory-immune response in the body. Increased zonulin levels in the gut have also been associated with increased zonulin levels in the brain. In other words, a leaky gut can lead to a leaky brain.
When the blood-brain barrier has been penetrated, the brain’s immune system, or the glial cells, become activated. The activated glial cells trigger inflammation in the brain. Gluten allows other foods to pass through the gut and brain lining.
A report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discusses how there’s been a drastic change in our world throughout a considerably shortened period of time. Additionally, current food supply, soil depletion, and environmental toxins have all been barely introduced across human history. Approximately 99 percent of our genes developed before the production of agriculture, which is believed to have been about 10,000 years ago.
Researchers and healthcare professionals argue that diet and environmental factors are currently a mismatch for our genes. And, even more, recent refining, hybridization, and genetic modification of the grain supply have possibly only made matters much worse. Our genes are essentially living in a new world.
Wheat is not what it used to be. In our modern, toxic world, we have more varieties of unhealthy foods than the previous generations before us. It’s simply a matter of an individual’s own genetic interaction with gluten that determines the development of a brain health issue or neurological disease will occur.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Brain Health?
If you’ve been diagnosed with a brain health issue or neurological disease, here are several actions you can take to promote health and wellness:
- Get gluten laboratory tests. Basic gluten lab tests generally only test for alpha-gliadin antibodies. This is only one of 24 varieties of wheat that your body may be sensitive or intolerant to. A wheat and gluten array will demonstrate different sensitivities or intolerances you may be having.
- Get food reactivity laboratory tests. There are several other gluten-free proteins that can also mimic gluten. Or, you may also be having a separate food reactivity. What is generally healthy for one person may not necessarily be healthy for you or another person.
- Get blood-brain barrier laboratory tests. Labs can evaluate blood-brain barrier permeability that causes brain health issues and neurological diseases.
- Eat brain-boosting foods. Nourish your brain by eating a variety of brain-boosting foods, such as eggs and organ meats, among others.
- Consider getting a functional medicine evaluation. Although being diagnosed with a brain health issue or neurological disease can be overwhelming, talking to a doctor and getting a functional medicine evaluation can ultimately help improve your overall health and wellness. Make sure to talk to a qualified and experienced doctor to find out if functional medicine is for you as well as to find out if you are sensitive or intolerant to gluten.
Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is the human body’s inability to break down or digest the gluten protein found in a variety of grains, including wheat. This health issue can ultimately range from a mild or moderate sensitivity or intolerance to full-blown celiac disease, a severe autoimmune disorder associated with gluten sensitivity or intolerance. In addition, research studies have demonstrated that people with gluten sensitivities or intolerances may also have brain health issues or neurological diseases. Talking to a naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner can help determine if you have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Avoiding gluten can ultimately help improve your overall health and wellness. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Neurotransmitter Assessment Form
The following Neurotransmitter Assessment Form can be filled out and presented to Dr. Alex Jimenez. Symptoms listed on this form are not intended to be utilized as a diagnosis of any type of disease, condition, or any other type of health issue.
The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
- Cole, William. “What Gluten Can Do To Your Brain (Hint: It Isn’t Pretty).” Mindbodygreen, Mindbodygreen, 30 July 2015, http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20915/what-gluten-can-do-to-your-brain-hint-it-isnt-pretty.html.
Additional Topic Discussion: Chronic Pain
Sudden pain is a natural response of the nervous system which helps to demonstrate possible injury. By way of instance, pain signals travel from an injured region through the nerves and spinal cord to the brain. Pain is generally less severe as the injury heals, however, chronic pain is different than the average type of pain. With chronic pain, the human body will continue sending pain signals to the brain, regardless if the injury has healed. Chronic pain can last for several weeks to even several years. Chronic pain can tremendously affect a patient’s mobility and it can reduce flexibility, strength, and endurance.
Neural Zoomer Plus for Neurological Disease
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate neurological diseases. The Neural ZoomerTM Plus is an array of neurological autoantibodies which offers specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus is designed to assess an individual’s reactivity to 48 neurological antigens with connections to a variety of neurologically related diseases. The Vibrant Neural ZoomerTM Plus aims to reduce neurological conditions by empowering patients and physicians with a vital resource for early risk detection and an enhanced focus on personalized primary prevention.
Food Sensitivity for the IgG & IgA Immune Response
Dr. Alex Jimenez utilizes a series of tests to help evaluate health issues associated with food sensitivities. The Food Sensitivity ZoomerTM is an array of 180 commonly consumed food antigens that offers very specific antibody-to-antigen recognition. This panel measures an individual’s IgG and IgA sensitivity to food antigens. Being able to test IgA antibodies provides additional information to foods that may be causing mucosal damage. Additionally, this test is ideal for patients who might be suffering from delayed reactions to certain foods. Utilizing an antibody-based food sensitivity test can help prioritize the necessary foods to eliminate and create a customized diet plan around the patient’s specific needs.
Formulas for Methylation Support
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