Gluten = Learning Disabilities + Behavior Problems
Many studies have been done, reports and books written and differing opinions given as to whether or not gluten is a factor in learning and behavior difficulties. I’m no scientist, but when my formerly happy and bright high schooler could no longer think clearly or function in school or out, I became well aware that removing gluten from the diet can make amazing improvements in the brain, not in all cases, but definitely in some. I don’t need a study or a book to tell me that there is something to this idea.
No longer a high schooler, and back to his quick thinking, sharp, and witty self – my gluten free son can attest to the ill effects of gluten on learning in his own life as well.
Below is an excerpt of an article called: “How Gluten Grains Can Impede Scholastic Achievement,“ By Ron Hoggan, Ed D. The author is also co-author of Dangerous Grains and is editor of Scott-Free Newsletter, a publication that serves the celiac and gluten sensitive community.
A growing body of evidence is now demonstrating that our gluten consumption is also helping to create and/or exacerbate the behavior and learning problems that beset our children.
Gluten grains have been shown to cause neurological damage. They incite an autoimmune attack on neurological tissues through a process called molecular mimicry. Gliadin, a protein sub-group of gluten, has also been shown to be cytotoxic causing the destruction of a range of tissues including neurological cells. Whether directly or indirectly, gluten grains are clearly causing neurological damage, some of which may be connected to learning disabilities and behavior problems. Thus, it is now clear that genetic susceptibility, when combined with gluten consumption, can result in compromised learning readiness in a small but significant percentage of the population.
Several reports indicate that the learning and behavior problems associated with celiac disease are abolished after six months to one year of strict compliance with a gluten free diet. In the context of gluten sensitivity, which is found in 11% to 12% of random groups in the U.S. and U.K. similar improvements were observed in learning readiness after at least three months of strict compliance with a gluten-free diet.
The parallels are clear. Behavior and learning problems in the context of gluten sensitivity should be treated with a gluten-free diet. We have observed almost as dramatic a positive response to the gluten free diet among gluten sensitive patients with signs and symptoms suggestive of learning and/or behavior problems as is reported for celiac children.