Many people suffer no effects from eating gluten. But there are others who simply do not realize they are, in fact, experiencing negative reactions to something they’ve ingested. Instead, they attribute their symptoms to something like stress or upset stomach. These people may go their entire lives without realizing they suffer from a common food sensitivity or intolerance. The health consequences of celiac disease extend beyond gastrointestinal issues and may affect every organ system in the human body.
Commonly thought of as being a GI disorder, celiac disease can also contribute to profound psychological symptoms such as depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), particularly in children and adolescents.
Other ailments that can co-exist with celiac disease can include
- Behavioral changes
- Infertility and miscarriages
- Iron deficiency
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Migraine headachesNumbness and tingling of the hands and feet
- Seizures and other neurological problems
- Skin lesions and mouth sores
- Tooth decay
Treating ADHD with dietary changes
The mainstream approach to ADHD treatment is often drug therapy, which can bring along its own set of complications. Diet modification has been shown to be remarkably effective, and a successful protocol usually incorporates the following:
Ditch the grains and sugars. Both tend to cause allergies in sensitive individuals. See if a “grain holiday” results in behavior improvements.
Rethink your drink. Replace soft drinks, fruit juices and pasteurized milk with purified water.
Minimize processed fats. Avoid trans fats, especially, as they disrupt nerve and cell intercommunication.
Avoid all processed foods. Particularly stay away from packaged goods containing artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, which may trigger or worsen symptoms. Gluten is commonly hidden in processed foods such as soups, soy sauce, cold cuts and various low- and no-fat products, as well as refined grain products such as bread, pizza crust, pasta, cookies and pastries.
Ramp up the omega-3 fats. If you’re not a vegan, some studies have shown that animal-based omega-3 fats (such as krill oil or fish oil) can improve the symptoms of ADHD more effectivel y than pharmaceutical drug s like Ritalin® and Concerta®.
Consider adding probiotics. More “good” bacteria in the gut may provide additional benefits.
Speak to your doctor if you think you may suffer from gluten sensitivity or if you are genetically predisposed to the condition. Untreated celiac disease can be life-threatening.
There are many places to turn to for support and information, but if you’re feeling befuddled, here’s a starting point for you:
The Feingold® Association is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to generate awareness of the role of food and synthetic additives in behavior, learning and health. Visit feingold.org.
“Against the Grain: The Slightly Eccentric Guide to Living Well Without Gluten or Wheat.” A funny and well-written book—helpful, informative and entertaining.