3

votes

Does gluten mess with your head?!

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 28, 2012 at 8:14 PM

I generally don't eat gluten, at all. It makes me unwell and makes all my pre-Paleo symptoms flare up again.

Last weekend, I was on holiday and got some really sad news regarding a member of my family. So I went on an emotional eating binge (I'm an emotional eater/recovering binge eater) and ate anything and everything for 2 days solid. I ate bread, some cake, cheesecake etc. Yes, I felt absolutely awful after it.

For the last month or so I've been making some big plans to move to another country and have been 100% sure of these plans. But on Sunday evening, I was psychologically all over the place. I was an emotional wreck and began re-thinking these definite plans that I had began to put into action for my big move. I began having doubts and was really freaking out and wondering if I was making the right decision. I honestly think that my gluten binge altered my thought process and made me doubt my own decisions and life plan.

Today, after 2 days of Paleo eating, I'm back on track, happy with life and absolutely sure of my plans.

So, my question is, does gluten affect your decision making abilities? Does it mess with your head enough to drive you to doubt yourself? Has anyone else had an experience like this?

Looking forward to your responses!!

B23318c968ac589b87131d5b489d6e16

(1294)

on February 28, 2012
at 11:12 PM

I asked my Doc about it, she said there is plenty of evidence showing that for those of us that are sensitive gluten can cross the blood-brain barrier, causing an inflammation of the brain tissue. This in turn can cause a whole host of symptoms from depression to mood swings, bi-polar behavior... I have heard there are studies showing a reduction in these symptoms with a gluten free diet, but haven't gone looking for them.

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on February 28, 2012
at 09:00 PM

Mashanshell, I'm glad you are doing well. There are lots of support threads at Low Carb Friends, for general things, food plans, challenges. It's a very friendly place, if you'd like to visit. :) There are several support threads there for folks staying away from those mega-carb temptations, if that should interest you. :)

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:59 PM

Wow Chris, that's fantastic that Paleo has helped you to get off the antidepressant! I find that I get ticked at myself for eating crap as well, it bothers me that I let myself slip. And when I do, it can be a slip that lasts a few days because I tend to try to comfort myself with more food - Which of course just carries on the vicious cycle of bingeing! Am glad to hear that you're feeling well and happy belated birthday to you! Like I've mentioned, this experience is something to look back on if I'm tempted by gluten/sugar in the future. We just have to remember that it's not worth it!

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:55 PM

Thanks for sharing Jasmine! Nobody has ever commented on my personality changing after eating gluten but I know myself that it makes me moody, irritable and unhappy with everything. I'll be staying clear of it from now on as well, it's not worth it! Paleo gives such a good quality of life, I feel great again after only 2 days of eating 'clean'. It's an experience to think back on if I'm ever tempted by gluten again!

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:53 PM

Thanks for your thoughts PrimalDanny. I guess in a way if you 'lose control' over what you're eating and go down that slippery slope, it's easier to feel like you've lost control in other aspects of your life as well. Paleo helps us to feel so clear-headed, decisive and confident - It's not nice to find out what it feels like to have your emotional state altered by bad food choices.

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:50 PM

Thanks PaleoGran! I'm doing so much better today, I actually feel like my normal, happy self again :) It had been so long since I had eaten gluten that I'd forgotten how rubbishy it makes me feel! I'm certainly going to steer clear of those foods from now on. It's really not worth it!

D31a2a2d43191b15ca4a1c7ec7d03038

(4134)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:33 PM

Hi, Mashanshell. It could have been gluten, and, it also could have been the sugar-PUFA-flour combination, and a carbohydrate hangover. I hope you are doing well! :)

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10 Answers

3
9225c8e3ea353a2c604cacd62506047d

on February 28, 2012
at 09:59 PM

Gluten breaks down into peptides with opiate activity? Yes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9276449 Could such opioid peptides affect cognitive functions? Possibly under the right physiological circumstances... http://questioning-answers.blogspot.com/2011/02/leaky-gut-and-autism.html

3
2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:36 PM

For me, yes. I get irritated easily. I would guess at least some if it is due to feeling miserable- bloated, crampy, gassy, ticked at myself for eating that crap. But I find that little things get me worked up, and I get very impatient with my husband.

This is how I felt when I started taking antidepressants, and after a few years of drugging myself, I started eating healthier- less processed food, more whole foods, everything homemade. I didn't link the diet to being happier, but eventually felt good enough to get off the antidepressant. However, I still had relapses, ups and downs, and couldn't determine what was driving my moods. When I started eating paleo, things got better, and quite quickly. I was surprised at how a piece of cake and a couple beers could make me so cantakerous for the rest of the weekend! I'm a stable calm, happy unless there's a reason to be unhappy, and I'm certainly not as impatient and doubting.

This past weekend was my free-for-all weekend for my birthday, and I had beers, cereal, cake, a pretzel, some bread... and man, was I mean by Sunday afternoon. I stopped eating crap mid-day Sunday and felt better last night and even better today.

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:59 PM

Wow Chris, that's fantastic that Paleo has helped you to get off the antidepressant! I find that I get ticked at myself for eating crap as well, it bothers me that I let myself slip. And when I do, it can be a slip that lasts a few days because I tend to try to comfort myself with more food - Which of course just carries on the vicious cycle of bingeing! Am glad to hear that you're feeling well and happy belated birthday to you! Like I've mentioned, this experience is something to look back on if I'm tempted by gluten/sugar in the future. We just have to remember that it's not worth it!

2
Af3e3615beba642bcafd0f21d64d74f7

on February 28, 2012
at 11:05 PM

Nobody is listening... ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE = WHEAT.

2
B23318c968ac589b87131d5b489d6e16

(1294)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:33 PM

YES! This happens to me. When I eat gluten I am a wreck afterwards, for at least a few days if its a tiny amount. I am sure that I hate my job, am breaking up with my boyfriend, and all my friends hate me. It passes and then I can see clearly again. My family and friends say that when I eat gluten my personality changes. WHOA. I think I'll stay clear of that!

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:55 PM

Thanks for sharing Jasmine! Nobody has ever commented on my personality changing after eating gluten but I know myself that it makes me moody, irritable and unhappy with everything. I'll be staying clear of it from now on as well, it's not worth it! Paleo gives such a good quality of life, I feel great again after only 2 days of eating 'clean'. It's an experience to think back on if I'm ever tempted by gluten again!

B23318c968ac589b87131d5b489d6e16

(1294)

on February 28, 2012
at 11:12 PM

I asked my Doc about it, she said there is plenty of evidence showing that for those of us that are sensitive gluten can cross the blood-brain barrier, causing an inflammation of the brain tissue. This in turn can cause a whole host of symptoms from depression to mood swings, bi-polar behavior... I have heard there are studies showing a reduction in these symptoms with a gluten free diet, but haven't gone looking for them.

1
Bdf98e5a57befa6f0877f978ba09871c

on February 28, 2012
at 11:03 PM

So, my story may sound familiar to others. In late high-school and college I had a lot of angst. Suicidal, depressive angst, lots of poor decisions, mood swings galore, and even a lack of attention, even in some of my most exciting classes.

Then we found out my family is predisposed to celiac. And that I had it.It wasn't an overnight change. But I will say, as I have finally begun to heal my leaky gut and other celiac-related issues (not just my gut, but almost everything it seems), my mood became a lot sounder too.

Another anecdote proved that for me. I had a bed gluten exposure, and not only did I have physical symptoms, but also memory loss, depression, etc. If I'd said or done something for a couple of days after, it didn't feel like me doing it. And it wasn't pretty.

I don't want to totally blame gluten. But I do think that in time science will discover psychological effects of toxins like gluten.

1
Medium avatar

(4878)

on February 28, 2012
at 10:13 PM

Absofreekin'lootly.

That's all I have to say.

I see gluten issues daily as I face a classroom of students whose main food sources are processed/packaged goods.

And for me...yes, I go ADHD within 20 mins of gluten poisoning. And it takes about 3 days before I get my "mind" back.

1
Ccacf7567273244733bc991af4ac42ed

on February 28, 2012
at 08:21 PM

I don't know if it's just the gluten, but there is evidence that it (and other aspects of a bread/cake/cheesecake diet) have a psychological effect. The most obvious example is how treacherous a slope it can be, undermining all kinds of confident decisions to eat and stay healthy. There's a lot of people reported more general depression improving with a switch to paleo. We could endlessly debate the exact hormones involved and how that impacted your decision-making ability and emotional state and what purpose such a response would serve in the paleolithic world but the details aren't really the important thing.

Recognising your doubts as somehow part of a natural response to what you had been eating, and getting back on track are the important things.

421492f8989c426af583520a3d5fd136

(522)

on February 28, 2012
at 08:53 PM

Thanks for your thoughts PrimalDanny. I guess in a way if you 'lose control' over what you're eating and go down that slippery slope, it's easier to feel like you've lost control in other aspects of your life as well. Paleo helps us to feel so clear-headed, decisive and confident - It's not nice to find out what it feels like to have your emotional state altered by bad food choices.

0
Fb10cf8e5dbac271762e13721181d5dc

(453)

on February 29, 2012
at 03:57 AM

YES.

My depression, which was medicated up till a couple years ago, lifted after taking out gluten. But the moment I do have it, I freak out. On paleo, I have this sense of well-being, which disappears when I've been "glutened", and everything seems kind of.. dismal. And I become really irritable and contentious and difficult to be around. Plus brain-fog... can't retain information easily at all. It lasts about 3 days and it sucks, so it's really easy for me to just not touch the stuff. The lesser evil though, gluten-free substitutes, still haunt me from behind the bakery counter...

0
C4f1a0c70c4e0dea507c2e346c036bbd

on February 29, 2012
at 03:23 AM

Yes! Brain fog and head aches the following day after eating it.

0
B23318c968ac589b87131d5b489d6e16

(1294)

on February 29, 2012
at 12:24 AM

Here is a link to a talk that mentions brain inflammation and gluten. It is available today only though, so don't wait! I think you can find old podcasts of a similar talk if you miss it:

http://paleosummit.com/dr-thomas-obryan/

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