December 11, 2006

Cereal Killers?

I'm finishing up another of the books on gluten sensitivity that Nancy loaned me: Dangerous Grains by Dr. James Braly and Ron Hoggan. I already read and returned a couple of the celiac books and I was surprised that this one had additional things to learn. It is carefully written from a doctor's viewpoint so it does not belong to the I could have written it myself category that I sometimes find in health books.

You can read highlights of the chapter on Psychiatric Issues in Celiac Disease on the Dangerous Grains website. While the authors do not say that wheat and rye are the main causes of mental illness, they make a case that these grains can contribute to mental distress, partly by decreasing blood flow to the brain in people who are sensitive to gluten.

Schizophrenia incidence during WW-II substantially decreased among European populations suffering grain shortages. Peptides derived from gluten grains have been implicated in schizophrenia, epileptic seizures, and vascular illnesses and are sometimes found to occur among patients who also have celiac disease. Like ergot, these peptides have recently been shown to affect blood flow within the brain, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and autism.

Depression is said to be one of the most common conditions suffered by the gluten-sensitive. Interesting - my personal reaction to wheat is grogginess. It makes sense that decreased blood flow to the brain would cause you to feel sleepy or depressed. Actually, I find that consuming yeast makes me depressed. (I tested allergic to both baker's yeast and brewer's yeast.) Same thing with molds, including small amounts of cheese and mushrooms. Within a few minutes of exposure, my mood drops drastically. There doesn't have to be anything sad going on, but it feels an awful lot like there is.

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