Did you know that gluten intolerance can trigger problems throughout your body and not just along your intestinal tract? According to the University of Chicago, roughly ten percent of all people suffering from neurological problems of unknown origin are probably suffering from celiac disease. So what gluten intolerance symptoms manifest themselves as neurological conditions?
It’s Not Just In Your Gut
Most people think of gluten intolerance as a gastrointestinal problem and think of celiac disease as an inflammatory bowel disease. While the antibodies triggered by gluten do attack the lining of the small intestine and cause inflammation, they may attack other parts of the body as well.
According to the University of Chicago’s Center For Peripheral Neuropathy, neurological symptoms often appear before gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with undiagnosed celiac disease. But because patients and doctors alike don’t connect neurological symptoms with the common understanding of gluten intolerance, the cause of these symptoms is often overlooked.
Common Neurological Consequences of Celiac Disease
The most common neurological conditions resulting from an intolerance to gluten include ataxia, brain fog, peripheral neuropathy, migraines, muscle twitches and vertigo. In some cases, undiagnosed celiac disease may cause epileptic seizures and if left untreated for years, dementia.
How Does Gluten Trigger These Problems?
Sometimes these conditions occur as a direct consequence of gluten intolerance. For example, the antibodies triggered by the proteins in gluten (gliadin and glutenin), might attack and inflame nerve fibers or other parts of the nervous system. In other words, you eat something with gluten in it, your body detects those proteins and generates an abundance of the antibodies, and then those antibodies attack certain parts of your system.
Gluten ataxia (deteriorating gross motor control, or increasing clumsiness) was discovered when the bodies of people who grew more and more clumsy as they grew older were examined. Elevated gliadin antibodies were discovered at the base of the cerebellum, the portion of your brain governing your coordination.
Sometimes The Damage Is Indirect
Sometimes this autoimmune response may impact your nervous system in a direct or indirect manner. Peripheral neuropathy (numbness, tingling or pain in the extremities), may be caused by antibodies attacking nerve fibers or because untreated gluten intolerance can result in malnutrition.
Vitamin B and E deficiencies can cause brain fog, loss of coordination and nerve pain while calcium and magnesium deficiencies can cause muscle spasms. These nutrient deficiencies are all common in people who have had undiagnosed celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity for an extended period of time.
This is because the antibodies attack the lining of the intestine, flattening the nutrient-grabbing villi along the wall of your small intestine and decreasing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the food you’re eating.
Gluten Intolerance Is An Opportunity, Not A Sentence
All of this may sound horrifying if you face the prospect of an untreated case of celiac disease. But keep in mind that if you eliminate gluten from your diet, steer clear of refined sugars and eat plenty of fresh, green vegetables, you can make a startling recovery.
I prefer it if people diagnosed with gluten intolerance think of this as an opportunity. You can now take specific steps to improve your health, your energy and your well-being. And you soon will live a much happier, healthier life.