Regular readers of this blog will already be familiar with my concerns about gluten in many of today’s wheat products. Those looking for more reasons to adopt a gluten-free diet may want to consider a phenomenon known as “Brain fog.”
“Brain fog” is a colloquial term for mental confusion or a temporary loss of mental clarity. Sufferers will often have periods daily when they are temporarily unable to think clearly, concentrate on tasks, or solve simple problems. Those with extreme cases of this condition may spend the better part of their lives in a state of mental confusion, unable to focus, make good decisions, and express themselves coherently. According to Lawrence Wilson, MD,
“Brain fog is unrelated to depression, dementia or any other mental problem and yet it is rarely accepted as a real symptom that can help make appropriate diagnoses.” 1
There is some evidence that one of the causes of this condition may be sensitivity to gluten in wheat products. Gluten is a protein found in many grains that are ubiquitous in the Western world, including barley, wheat and rye. Dr. Wilson believes one of the ill effects of this protein in gluten-sensitive people is a reaction that disrupts the delicate hormonal and biochemical balance in the brain. This can lead to “brain fog;” other researchers consider it possible that it may in fact also lead to more serious conditions, such as depression and schizophrenia.
It is thought that these effects are brought about by malabsorption of nutrients in gluten-sensitive individuals. Recognizing gluten as a foreign body, the immune system attacks it, resulting in damage to the intestinal wall.
Adopting a gluten-free diet is a good way to fight brain fog, improve cognition, and achieve mental clarity. According to Dr. Jeremy E. Kaslow,
“Getting off the gluten also has been shown to stabilize mood, improve grades, increase motor skills, promote faster learning, improve concentration and eliminate brain fog.” 2
Gluten-free grains are becoming easier to find as the number of people discovering their sensitivity to the protein increases. Some of the naturally gluten-free alternatives are quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and sorghum.