Article: Gluten Sensitivity and the Impact on the Brain

November 22, 2010

Article: Gluten Sensitivity and the Impact on the Brain


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Renowned neurologist notes “remarkable change” in 9-year-old girl after switching to gluten-free diet.

The gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are often discussed, but how much do you know about the effects of these conditions on the brain? A new article by renowned neurologist David Perlmutter, MD, shares an interesting case of one child whose cognitive function increased dramatically after going gluten-free. The article also gives an overview of scientific research on gluten sensitivity and neurological disorders.

Published in the Huffington Post, the article centers on a 9-year-old girl who was functioning at or below a 3rd grade level in academics. After initial tests revealed no physical or neurological problems, Dr. Perlmutter began to explore diet as a potential factor.

The article states:

Recognizing that gluten sensitivity (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) is extremely common, I decided to perform a simple blood test to determine if this child was gluten sensitive. When the laboratory studies were completed, we were surprised to learn that she was profoundly sensitive to gluten. So at that point I instructed her parents to put her on a gluten-free diet. While they considered this diet to be challenging, eliminating all wheat, barley and rye from her diet, nevertheless they complied. Over the next two weeks, her parents observed a remarkable change in her cognitive function. Karen suddenly was able to focus much more readily on her school work and indicated to her parents that she suddenly noticed she was thinking much more clearly.

After several months on the gluten-free diet, the girl’s math and reading skills reached a 5th grade level, while her story recall was reported to be at an 8th grade level.

In addition to this personal experience, Dr. Perlmutter shared some of the more recent research on celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and brain function, including a study led by “world authority on gluten sensitivity” Dr. Maios Hadjivassiliou and a study published in Pediatrics that suggests there may be a greater range in the neurological disorders associated with celiac disease than previously thought.

To read the full article, visit the Huffington Post.


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