Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Is Gluten Attacking Your Brain? 5 Great Ways to Reduce or Eliminate it in Your Diet

Over the past few weeks I have been posting lots of info on your Enteric Nervous System - your second brain in relationship to probiotics and food allergies.  Just the other day while reading my copy of Living Without magazine I found this article about gluten and your brain and thought it would be good information to add to the things I've already posted.   

I think it speaks volumes about some of the "hidden" effects of gluten on our bodies and our overall health.  So even if you do not appear to have a gluten allergy or sensitivity, it's a good idea to look at ways to cut down on the gluten in your diet.

Even though our USDA food pyramid suggests lots of whole grains, being mindful of your choices is a great idea.  I would even go so far as to suggest limiting your grain intake to 1 serving per day.  Think about filling your plate with more organic vegetables and fruits.  Here are a few great ways to cut down or eliminate gluten in your diet . . .

1.  Next time you make tacos, make them into lettuce wraps.  Lettuce wraps are very common in Asian cuisine and they accomplish 2 things at once - you eliminate the grain filled tortilla and add in an extra serving of veggies with no effort!  You can find a great recipe for these grainless chicken tacos in my post on March 1st.

2.  Consider using seeds like quinoa and amaranth as a replacement for bulgar when making breakfast cereal, rice or pasta style salads or tabouli.  You can find lots of great recipes like those pictured below in my cookbook - OMG! That's Allergy Free?

3.  Even though ancient grains like spelt and kamut contain gluten, the amount is significantly less than the wheat grown today.  So if you MUST have a slice of bread try Rudy's Spelt bread or Canyon Bakehouse's GF Multigrain bread.  Or you can even bake your own!  Try my No Knead Spelt Cibatta or my GF Sourdough Bread - the recipes can also be found in my cookbook.

4.  Substitute "Cauliflower Rice" for regular rice.  This works particularly well for flavored rice dishes, like this recipe I posted on February 13th for Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice.

5.  Rather than making a sandwich pile your sandwich fillings on a bed of greens and have a salad instead!  Here's my Deconstructed BLT Salad from my cookbook . . . and it tastes even better than it looks!

These are just a few ways you can begin to dramatically reduce and even eliminate the gluten that may be akin to a brain zapping zombie!

Dr. P

Gluten Attack: Ataxia

Is gluten attacking your brain?

Not long after her diagnosis, Sarah Bosse realized her case of celiac disease was not typical. Bosse had joined a support group for newly diagnosed celiacs and was surprised by what she saw at the first few meetings.
“They were working full-time jobs, had families and went out at night. Not to discount the severity of their symptoms and experiences but they had a much more normal life.”
Bosse had expected them to be as sick as she was.
The 26 year old from Raleigh, North Carolina, can trace her celiac symptoms all the way back to elementary school when she spent countless hours holed up in the nurse’s office, nibbling on saltines for her diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps.
Picture of Brain
Cerebellum: balance center of the brain that controls coordination and complex movements like walking, speaking and swallowing.
© 2010 ThinkStock/iStock Photo
“Looking back, it’s so ironic. Those saltines were making me worse,” recalls Bosse. Her symptoms continued into her teen years and were chalked up to anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. The bloating, diarrhea and cramping were such a constant part of her youth that when she looks at childhood pictures, she can see the discomfort and embarrassment on her face.
“I didn’t realize it at the time but my life has been about managing my stomach problems,” she says.
Shortly after finishing college, Bosse began experiencing frightening new symptoms. She was increasingly dizzy and disoriented, frequently stumbling while rounding a corner or changing directions. She’d even fall out of a chair or her own bed at times, blaming it on klutziness until balance was no longer her only new complaint. Her head started to feel thick and foggy and she had trouble concentrating, likening it to an extreme case of ADHD. She also began having unusual problems with her vision, seeing bright flashes and noticing that her eyes seemed to bounce, rather than rest on what she was looking at.
“I could be at the grocery store, staring at a display of ketchup. I’d try to reach for one but my eyes wouldn’t stay still so that I could pick it up,” she says.
Before Bosse was able to see a specialist, a far scarier symptom struck. She was asleep in the early hours of the morning when she woke with a start, gasping for breath. She felt paralyzed, as if her body had forgotten how to breathe. Also unable to swallow, she was choking on her own saliva. Petrified, she managed to call for help and was rushed to the emergency room.
Concerned she might have multiple sclerosis, Bosse underwent a series of brain MRIs at the hospital. When they came back clear, she was tested for Lyme disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and countless other conditions over the next several weeks. Results were normal and doctors didn’t have an answer for her.
Then a close friend was diagnosed with celiac disease and Bosse wondered if it could help explain her digestion symptoms. She asked to be tested and just days later, the diagnosis was nailed. Within weeks of eating gluten free, her stomach troubles were turning around but her balance problems were worse than ever.
“I couldn’t walk anything close to a straight line. By that time, I was spending most of my day in a wheelchair. I had to stop working outside my home. It was hard to appreciate the fact that my stomach wasn’t hurting as much because I was housebound,” she says.
Losing hope, Bosse was hospitalized for depression. While there, on a hunch one of her doctors suggested she could have a little-known condition called gluten ataxia.

There's much more to this article, to read it all click here.


  1. This is just a tip of the whole article which was fascinating. They put it on 7 separate web pages so going directly to the link and reading it there will get you the rest of the article. Thanks for sharing Dr. P!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Michelle, I didn't write the article, it's a re-posting of a blog written by Christine Boyd. While rice does not contain gluten, and she states that, it does contain a few other substances that are difficult for some highly sensitive folks to assimilate. For more info on this, so you can make up your own mind, please visit Dr. Peter Osborne's site GlutenFreeSociety.org. He has some very interesting info and some things to ponder.

    Thanks for taking time to write in!

    Dr. P

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