Similar to my recent post on gluten and memory loss, gluten is also linked closely to mental “brain fog”. A feeling of confusion, reduced ability to think clearly, or make quick connections. Because we can’t feel the tissue in our brains like we can feel the tissue in our guts, we don’t necessarily identify the effects of a glutening on our cognitive function. But it’s there. In fact, unexplained brain dysfunction is seen in 6 to 10 percent of patients diagnosed with celiac disease.
Sadly, I find my brain is often in a fog. Case and point: I opened my kitchen cupboard yesterday morning to get out a coffee cup and I find this scene.
Yep. That’s the half & half that I used in my coffee the morning before. I put it in the cupboard instead of the refrigerator.
This happens all the time. Not just with the half & half, but I’ve found peanut butter in the freezer. I’ve inexplicably lost one flip flop somewhere in my apartment. I’ve looked for 30 minutes for my phone before remembering that I plugged it into the charger.
It’s like I’m 90 years old – my brain just misfires and it will just do things that make no sense while caught up in the fog.
So, what causes this annoying lack of mental clarity? Gluten, of course. Among other things.
The top three gluten related causes of brain fog are:
- Nutrient deficiencies – especially B vitamins and zinc. Due to malabsorption of these and other vitamins/minerals, the body and brain can start not functioning properly.
- Milk and dairy. Studies have shown that for many celiacs, eliminating gluten isn’t enough to completely lift mental side effects from the disease. Only when dairy and gluten were eliminated did their condition improve noticeably.
- Sinus congestion/pressure. Gluten can cause inflammation of the sinuses, which places pressure on parts of the brain and increases histamine levels.
With the elimination of every trace of gluten, and in some cases dairy, conditions in people with brain fog have been shown to improve, especially in children. In one study, a group of children who eliminated gluten from their diet raised their grade point averages from 2.5 to 3.9!
Of course, this is just more evidence that I really need to give up dairy in my diet. It’s something I’ve tried and something I dread actually having to do, but maybe it will help me stop putting my half & half in the cupboard :)