Brain fog can be described as a state of being excessively “spaced out,” or an inability to concentrate or remember simple things due to gluten ingestion. Some may refer to it as mental fatigue, forgetfulness, grogginess, being detached, or mental confusion.
Gluten-induced neurocognitive impairment, also known as “brain fog” or “celiac fog,” has been found to be a symptom in many with celiac disease and gluten-related disorders. Brain fog is a symptom that gets a lot of attention in the celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) communities, but not as much attention from researchers. In a Beyond Celiac study, 90 percent of survey participants (89% of those with celiac disease and 95% of those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity) reported experiencing brain fog. This, among other research, suggests it is one of the most common symptoms of celiac disease and NCGS.
The most commonly-chosen descriptors of brain fog were difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and grogginess. The graph below shows the percentage of each participant type who chose each brain fog descriptor. These descriptors may help healthcare providers recognize that patients who use these words to describe symptoms may be experiencing brain fog.
A study of the neurological and neuropsychological affects of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity from researchers at the University of Sheffield concluded that patients with celiac disease “had cognitive deficit, worsened mental health and white matter changes based on analysis of brain images.”
On a strict gluten-free diet, many people with celiac disease or NCGS no longer experience brain fog but further research is needed.
Do you or a family member suffer from brain fog? You may have celiac disease. Find out now. Take our Celiac Disease Symptoms Checklist.