It's a protein
found in wheat grain and part of "gluey" proline and glutamine rich
proteins known as prolamines. Prolamines are found in all cereal
grains, even rice, corn and oats, but only wheat, and to a lesser
extent rye, spelt and einkorn, are assosiated with the serious neurological
and autoimmune reactions often linked to autism spectrum disorder.
Gluten is only
found in wheat species. Spelt or einhorn gluten has dramatically
lower antigenicity of common wheat (Triticulum aestivum) that is
used in bread products. Other cereal grasses have what are known
as prolamines (proline-glutamine rich proteins) with rye containing
secalin, barley containing horedin, etc, but they have very little
cross-reactivity with antigens associated with wheat intolerance.
It has long
been known that people with celiac disease are also more likely
to suffer from ADHD, another condition that is heavily influenced
by dietary habits.
the treatment of celiac disease is a completely gluten-free diet,
with ADHD the most oft-cited dietary villain is sugar, whereas grains
are often overlooked (even though they act much like sugar in your
It turns out,
though, that there may be a closer link between the symptoms of
celiac disease and ADHD than was previously recognized, and that
connection is gluten.
Diet May "Cure" ADHD
with ADHD do not respond well to most grains, especially wheat.
This could be because they have full-blown celiac disease, which
impacts an average of one
out of every 133 people in the United States (although some
studies have found that this number may be
as high as 1 in 33 in at-risk populations) or because
they have a less obvious condition known as gluten sensitivity.
gluten sensitivity, which may comprise 10
percent of the U.S. population or more, experience many of the
same symptoms as celiac disease causes, including headaches, fatigue,
muscle and joint pain, gas and more, but may be unaware that the
culprit triggering these symptoms is wheat and other gluten-containing
grains. It's also very possible to have celiac disease and not know
it … as researchers
state, "in many cases, the disease may be clinically silent
despite manifest small bowel mucosal lesions."
But the psychological
and behavioral symptoms of ADHD are now overlapping so often with
those of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity that it's recommended
"celiac disease … be
included in the ADHD symptom checklist." This suggestion was
prompted by a new study, which found people with ADHD who tested
positive for celiac disease improved significantly after following
a gluten-free diet for at least six months. The
initiation of the gluten-free diet, patients or their parents reported
a significant improvement in their behavior and functioning compared
to the period before celiac diagnosis and treatment … "
It may sound
strange to you that eating a grain that wreaks havoc on your gut
would manifest as symptoms related to your brain, rather
than your digestion, but grains are inherently pro-inflammatory
and will worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its
root and not just inflammation in your gut, but anywhere
in your body. Chronic inflammation in your body can wreak havoc
in your brain, and the importance of reducing
inflammation when dealing with mental health issues is well
known. It is very common for people to experience a wide variety
of mental health and emotional improvements upon eliminating gluten
from their diet.
Why Even Whole,
Sprouted Wheat is a Problem
that everyone following my beginner
nutrition plan eliminate all gluten from their diets, whether
or not they have celiac disease or ADHD, because many experience
health improvements upon doing so. Among the most important foods
to avoid are those gluten-containing grains that contain gliadin
molecules, such as wheat.
in the wheat protein complex (containing over 23,000 proteins) activates
the protein zonulin in the gut, it opens up the gaps between the
enterocytes causing an influx of improperly digested wheat proteins
and stomach bacteria.
Therefore regardless of your sensitivity level to the wheat proteins,
gliadin opens up a pandora's box of intestinal permeability, and
subsequent systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation.
contains high amounts of wheat germ agglutinin (WGA), a glycoprotein
classified as a lectin, which is largely responsible for many of
wheat's ill effects. Other grains high in lectins include rice,
spelt, and rye. Interestingly enough, the highest amounts of WGA
is found in whole wheat, including its sprouted form, which is touted
as being the most healthful form of all.
actually designed to withstand degradation through a wide range
of pH and temperatures, which is why sprouting, fermenting and cooking
will NOT negate its ill effects. WGA lectin is particularly tough
because it's actually formed by the same disulfide bonds that give
strength and resilience to vulcanized rubber and human hair.
because lectins are so small and hard to digest, they tend to bioaccumulate
in your body, where they can interfere with biological processes.
WGA is particularly troublesome in this regard. Studies indicate
it has a number of health-harming characteristics and activities:
Wheat, dairy, and soy contain exceptionally high levels
of glutamic and aspartic acid, which makes them all potentially
is a pathological process where glutamic and aspartic acid
cause an over-activation of your nerve cell receptors, which
can lead to calcium-induced nerve and brain injury. These two
amino acids may contribute to neurodegenerative conditions such
as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's, Huntington's disease, and
other nervous system disorders such as epilepsy, ADD/ADHD and
WGA has been demonstrated
to be cytotoxic to both normal and cancerous cell lines,
capable of inducing either cell cycle arrest or programmed cell
Endocrine Function WGA may contribute to weight
gain, insulin resistance, and leptin resistance by blocking
the leptin receptor in your hypothalamus. It also binds
to both benign and malignant thyroid nodules, and interferes
with the production of secretin from your pancreas, which can
lead to digestive problems and pancreatic hypertrophy.
effects gastrointestinal function by causing increased
shedding of the intestinal brush border membrane, reducing the
surface area, and accelerating cell loss and shortening of villi.
It also causes cytoskeleton degradation in intestinal cells,
contributing to cell death and increased turnover, and decreases
levels of heat shock proteins in gut epithelial cells, leaving
them more vulnerable to damage.
Why ADHD Symptoms
are Closely Linked to Gut Health
A variety of
behavioral problems are linked to problems in your gut, not only
from gluten, WGA and other components of grains but also due to
the gut-brain connection. The gut-brain connection is well recognized
as a basic tenet of physiology and medicine, so this isn't all that
surprising, even though it's often overlooked. There's also a wealth
of evidence showing gastrointestinal involvement in a variety of
With this in
mind, it should also be crystal clear that nourishing your gut flora
is extremely important at all life stages because in a very real
sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your
gut, and each needs its own vital nourishment.
Your gut and
your brain are actually created out of the same type of tissue.
During fetal development, one part turns into your central nervous
system while the other develops into your enteric nervous system.
These two systems are connected via the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial
nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. This
is what connects your two brains together, and explains such phenomena
as getting butterflies in your stomach when you're nervous, for
by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, a medical doctor with a postgraduate
degree in neurology, in the video below, toxicity in your gut can
flow throughout your body and into your brain, where it can cause
symptoms of autism, ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, schizophrenia
and other mental disorders.
GAPS may manifest
as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of either
autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention
deficit disorder (ADD) without hyperactivity, dyslexia, dyspraxia,
or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities
… Fortunately, it is possible to identify GAPS within the first
weeks of your baby's life, which can help you make better informed
decisions about vaccinations, as if your child has the metabolic
characteristics of GAPS, they should NOT
be immunized until that is reversed.
What are the
Keys to Treating ADHD with Dietary Changes?
It is my sincere
hope that people will begin to realize that drug therapy, if at
all necessary, should be a very last resort, after all other options
have been exhausted, when it comes to behavioral problems such as
ADHD. The first route of treatment should actually be dietary
most grains and sugars, including fructose, from your child's
diet. Grains and sugars both tend to cause allergies
in sensitive individuals. Even organic, whole, sprouted grain
can cause problems in many children so it would be wise to give
them a "grain holiday" and see if their behavior improves.
soft drinks (whether diet and regular), fruit juices,
and pasteurized milk with pure, clean non-fluoridated water.
your use of nearly all processed fats, especially trans
fats as they disrupt nerve cell intercommunication.
all processed foods, especially those containing fructose,
artificial colors, flavors and preservatives, which may trigger
or worsen symptoms. Gluten is also commonly hidden in processed
foods like ready-made soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and
various low- and no-fat products, as well as refined grain products
like bread, pizza crust, pasta, cookies and pastries.
I also recommend
you have your child follow a gluten-free diet to see if this eliminates
their symptoms. Your best bet when deciding to eliminate gluten
is to primarily base your diet on lean proteins, vegetables and
raw dairy products, as described
in my nutrition plan, and stick with the grains, seeds and flours
available that are naturally gluten-free.
and millet do not contain the gliadin molecule that can provoke
the inflammatory reaction from gluten. Therefore, they are usually
safe to eat as well.
options are becoming
much more in demand and as a result are showing up in grocery
stores, restaurants and from caterers. But keep in mind, particularly
if you are relying on processed gluten-free foods, that cross-contamination
can and does occur, most likely during processing, and many
companies simply aren't testing to make sure the final product is
One study found
that of the 22 naturally gluten-free products tested, seven
of them would not be considered gluten-free under the proposed
FDA rule for gluten-free labeling, which requires products labeled
as 'gluten-free' to contain less than 20 parts per million (ppm)
of gluten. So again, to be sure your diet is truly gluten-free,
it should be based on whole foods, not processed ones.
benefits of a gluten-free diet do not always appear overnight. Some
do experience improvements rapidly, but in others it can take 9
to 12 months before the lining of your small intestine is fully
healed. Generally, allow 6 to 9 months of following a gluten-free
diet before you expect symptoms to resolve.