Are Gluten and Dairy Interfering with Your Brain’s Health?

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In a new study conducted by world-renowned immunologist Aristo Vojdani, PhD., gluten and dairy have been shown to cause the immune system to destroy brain and nervous tissue in a process being called ‘neurological autoimmunity.’  This finding confirms what many clinicians have seen firsthand in their practices: removing gluten and dairy from the diet has a profound, positive impact on brain health in many patients.  This finding warrants particular attention considering the explosion of brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, and childhood development disorders happening today.

The study, the first of its kind, examined the connection between gluten and neurological immunity in a random population of health subjects.  Similar studies in the past have only looked at a sample of patients diagnosed with celiac disease, a condition that only affects one to two percent of the population.  In Vojdani’s study, 400 people with no known pathologies showed a significant correlation between gluten and neurological autoimmunity.  The study also revealed that the majority of neurological reactions to gluten and dairy were due to a case of mistaken identity called molecular mimicry.  In this scenario, the immune system accidentally attacks and destroys brain and nerve tissue, believing that it is actually attacking gluten and dairy.  The conclusion is that those with gluten and dairy sensitivity have a much higher risk of developing neurological autoimmunity than was previously believed in the medical community.  Symptoms of this condition are diverse and can range from something as simple as mild brain fog to something as severe as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.

Another significant benchmark of this study is that the entire wheat protein was evaluated for immune reactivity, not just the alpha gliadin portion as has been done in the past.  Standard tests meant to determine gluten sensitivity only look at the alpha gliadin, but people can react to a variety of different segments of gluten including gamma gliadin, omega gliadin, glutenin, and wheat germ agglutinin.  Many people are misdiagnosed when it comes to gluten sensitivity as they may not react to alpha gliadin, but rather to another part of the protein.  There is a similar case when it comes to dairy, only one segment is tested for when patients tend to react to other dairy compounds.

Neurological tissues that appear to be most affected in a cross-reaction with gluten and dairy are found in the cerebellum, the area at the back of the brain that controls motor movements.  Although cerebellar symptoms can be diverse, those more commonly seen include worsening balance, vertigo, nausea, car and sea sickness or nausea looking at fast-moving images or objects.  Studies show no food is a more powerful trigger of neurological damage than wheat.

The study underscores the importance of a healthy diet and the need for some patients to consider removing dairy and gluten in the case of brain inflammation and autoimmunity.  Gluten is found in wheat, spelt, barley, rye, kamut, triticale and malts.  Oats are often contaminated with gluten because they are grown in rotation with wheat or processed in the same facilities as wheat.  Gluten is also hidden in many foods such as condiments, meats, flavorings, and processed foods.  Dairy includes milk and all milk products including cheeses, yogurts, butter, sour cream, raw dairy and sheep and goat dairy.

Download the full text of the study here.

Health Concerns has a number of resources available to help you understand gluten intolerance.

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