There is more evidence coming out in various studies that are pointing to a co-relationship between wheat consumption, mood and brain health.
I will first talk about mood. Symptoms of major depression, bipolar disease and schizophrenia have been reduced when people afflicted with these diseases stop eating food containing wheat. Furthermore, elimination of wheat has been shown to have a positive impact on improving the emotions and symptoms of people in the following areas:
- Sleep disruption
- General Unhappiness
- Anger and Aggression
This by all means was not a complete list but it gives you an idea where wheat consumption affects a person’s mood. I will now try to briefly explain what is happening in the brain mood-wise in a way that does not get too technical.
First of all, gluten (the protein in wheat) affects the amount of serotonin in a person’s brain. Serotonin serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain which gives us feelings of happiness. Gluten affects the serotonin level by limiting the availability of its precursor, an amino acid called tryptophan. Low brain levels of serotonin is associated with feelings of depression.
There are also gluten exorphins to blame for negative moods. Gluten exorphins are a group of food peptides that have opiate-like properties. They are produced when the gluten is partially digested. These gluten exorphens can affect various mental processes negatively if these peptides cross the blood-brain barrier. It is thought that these gluten exorphens also play a role in the addictive properties that wheat seems to have. Have you ever been able to have just one slice of bread or one slice of cake and not crave another one right after? That is the gluten exorphins at work.
Wheat consumption also impacts the brain in the department of memory. Dr. David Perlmutter has written a best seller book called Grain Brain. In this book he talks about how eating excessive carbohydrate intake, including the carbohydrates in whole grains is responsible for causing such brain disorders as dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches and depression.
In this TV news interview with Dr. Perlmutter, the doctor explains that “Gluten is toxic” and that it “turns on inflammation in the body which is the cornerstone of such diseases as Alzheimer’s.”
Dementia such as Alzheimer’s are much more common in people that have diabetes. This is due to the chronic and repeatedly high levels of blood sugar found in someone who has diabetes that is poorly controlled. Wheat consumption is a major contributing factor to the development of type 2 diabetes and is implicated in the development of type 1 diabetes.
Hopefully I haven’t overwhelmed you with too much technical stuff in this post. My goal was to give you a starting point where you can investigate for yourself the relationship between wheat consumption, mood and brain health. Till my next post, stay healthy!