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Gluten Sensitivity and Brain Health

Emerging research suggests that gluten sensitivity, even without celiac disease, may impact brain health and cognitive function. The studies behind this is that the gut and brain function in a bidirectional pathway. Explore the gut-brain connection and how a gluten-free diet can support neurological wellbeing and decrease your risk for neurodegenerative diseases, brain fog, lethargy, and more.

What is Gluten Sensitivity?

What is Gluten Sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity is a condition where the body has an adverse reaction to the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley (Gluten). Symptoms can include digestive issues, fatigue, brain fog, and headaches, stuffy & runny nose. It is different from the autoimmune disorder celiac disease.
The Gut-Brain Connection

The Gut-Brain Connection

1. Gut Health

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in immune function and inflammation. The gut lining may be at risk in peoples digestive tracts. The gut lining is the protection from bacteria entering into the bloodstream or liver. Gluten has ability to cause damage to the small intestine, causing a increase in the lack of nutrients received. Villi that are little cells on the small intestine are needed to break down and absorb the nutrients from the food we consume. Villous atrophy → Inflammation of the villi. When these cells are at risk we are at larger risk for nutritional deficiency.

2. Inflammation

Inflammation in the gut can lead to systemic inflammation that impacts the brain through the bidirectional communication between the gut and central nervous system. Ultimately this can lead to loss in the blood brain barriers (BBB) integrity. ⤵

3. Brain Health

Chronic inflammation is linked to cognitive decline and neurological disorders. Naming a few → Cerebellar Ataxia , Peripheral Neuropathy, and cognitive impairments associated (Brain Fog). Research suggests that gluten-mediated inflammation can cause BBB to be breached. The BBB having a loss in its integrity can lead to neurodegeneration and even lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Cognitive Impacts of Celiac Disease and NCGS Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

Brain Fog

Gluten sensitivity can cause confusion, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating. It may cause a “spaced out” feeling within the brain and cause difficulty in remembering and formulating thoughts into speech. Leaving a you feeling confused, groggy and irritated.

Mood Disturbances

Links between gluten and anxiety, depression, and mood swings. Not only is the brain fog causing confusion but, when we tend to not be able to form our ideas and sentences we become frustrated. It can cause anger and aggression as well as anxiety and depression.

Neurological Symptoms

Headaches, dizziness, migraines, impaired balance, slow processing, and brain fog are common with gluten sensitivity. In more severe cases autoimmunity of the brain can occur.

Inflammation and Brain Function

Inflammation Impact

Systemic inflammation can impair communication between neurons and disrupt cognitive processes.
Peripheral immune cells and inflammatory molecules may travel over the Blood brain barrier and cause neuronal cytotoxicity.

Oxidative Stress

Gluten sensitivity is linked to increased oxidative stress, harming brain cells. Increased by gluten peptides and enterocytes


Anti-inflammatory diets may help protect the brain and support healthy neurological function. Eliminating gluten and other grains from your diet will also help to decrease these biomarkers for inflammation. If you have a sensitivity eliminate for at least 3 months, if its an allergy cut it out all together.

Gut Dysbiosis

Our gut microbiota is made up of compilation of microorganisms within the intestinal tract, working in a symbiotic relationship. Any disruption to the equipoise of this may lead to a imbalance and cause pathological conditions. Clostridium difficile or better known as C DIFF is a bacteria that causes infection in the colon, the longest part of our large intestine. The microbiota or microflora contains more than 1000 different forms of bacterium species and is known to be the largest amount found in this region of the body.

The communication between us as the host and the bacteria in our gut is that it forms a conservation of the mucosal immune function and the epithelial barriers lining integrity. Basically these layers of the mucosal lining and Clostridium Butyricum protect the intestinal barrier as well as help aid in the absorption of nutrients.

Microbiome and Neurological Health

1. Gut Dysbiosis

Gluten sensitivity can lead to an imbalance in gut bacteria, contributing to inflammation. Also known as intestinal or gastrointestinal dysbiosis. Good bacteria of the gut is referred to as flora which is essentially bacteria, protozoa, or fungi.

2. Gut-Brain Axis

The gut-brain axis allows the gut microbiome to influence neurotransmitter production and brain function.

3. Microbiome Restoration

A gluten-free diet and probiotic-rich foods may help restore gut health and support the brain.


Quality sleep is vital for cognitive function and brain health. If consuming foods that you are sensitive or allergic to the inflammation from this can cause trouble falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.


Regular physical activity boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain. Improving diet and what you consume can assist in providing you more nutrients and more beneficial macro and micro nutrients as well as nootropics have shown to increase endurance, muscle recovery and performance.

Stress Management

Techniques like meditation and mindfulness can reduce inflammation. When we consume things our bodies are sensitive to or have an allergy to we can have trouble in digesting and receiving the nutrients needed for the brain. This can lead to anxiety and other symptomatology.

Social Connection

Maintaining strong social ties supports cognitive and emotional wellbeing. Find a good functional medicine doctor and ask for their expertise in ways you can better mange your food sensitivities and your allergies. They can assist in functional medicine testing and creating diet plans and supplement programs that can be beneficial to improving your quality of life.

Dietary Approaches for Brain Health

Gluten-Free Diet

Eliminating gluten may reduce inflammation and support cognitive function.

Nutrient-Dense Foods

Eating antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can nourish the brain.

Probiotic-Rich Foods

Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut support gut health.


Staying hydrated is crucial for optimal brain function and cognition.

Improving Brain Health with a Gluten-Free Diet

1. Reduced Inflammation

Eliminating gluten can lower systemic inflammation biomarkers and oxidative stress

2. Gut Microbiome Restoration

A gluten-free diet may help rebalance and restore the gut microbiome and improve the gut-brain axis. Overall enhancing the gut and the brain.

3. Cognitive Enhancement

With reduced inflammation and a healthier gut, many see improvements in brain function, cognitive development, and reduction in brain fog and degeneration.


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