By naturopath Margaret Jasinska
A study has shown that gluten is capable of causing depression in some people without coeliac disease and without a wheat allergy. Some patients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity experience digestive symptoms when they eat gluten. For other people, their mood is adversely affected.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition that can cause severe destruction to the small intestine, with potentially devastating consequences. Coeliac disease is becoming increasingly prevalent, and better diagnosed; therefore a lot more people are following a gluten free diet.
Many of the people who follow a gluten free diet don’t have coeliac disease though. They just feel better when they don’t eat gluten.
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is a controversial term, as some researchers believe it doesn’t exist. Recently though, it has been identified that some people truly feel unwell when they eat gluten, and it’s not caused by wheat allergy or FODMAP sensitivity.
In May 2014, a study was published in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics titled “Gluten May Cause Depression in Subjects with Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity”. The study was led by Dr. Simone Peters. 22 people participated in the study and the researchers observed a marked rise in depression in the individuals consuming gluten.
This is significant. Depression is an extremely common condition that greatly reduces quality of life, productivity and life potential. Depression can also raise the risk of other health problems because depressed people often don’t take good care of themselves. They are more likely to eat poorly, drink too much and smoke cigarettes. Not everyone responds well to prescription antidepressants, and they can have very unpleasant side effects, leading a lot of people to discontinue their use.