It was once believed that the consumption of gluten only had a negative impact on individuals who had a wheat allergy. Emerging research however, has been demonstrating that not only does the consumption of gluten affect people who were once considered to be gluten-sensitive, scientists have discovered that gluten has a negative impact on cognitive performance, even in healthy individuals who have no allergies. In this overview, we’ll take a look at how our body reacts to gluten consumption and the debilitating impacts that it can have on the brain.
Human Gluten Consumption History
In order for you to understand how gluten affects the brain you have to understand the history of gluten in relation to human consumption. Based on the fact that gluten can be found in practically every type of processed food that we consume, it comes as no surprise that people think that we must have been consuming gluten since the dawn of time. However, this is false, humans did not begin to consume gluten until thousands of years ago, where it was originally cultivated via wheat in China. To put things in retrospect, many medical experts believe that the earliest human settlement existed for as far back as 6 million years ago. This is why the medical community categorizes gluten as being a foreign protein to the human physiology.
How Our Body Responds To Foreign Protein
Inflammation occurs when the body’s self protection system kicks in. The problem with introducing a foreign protein to the human physiology is that it can cause inflammation in several areas of the body. In this case, the body views gluten as harmful stimuli due to the fact that it is a foreign protein. So inflammation occurs throughout several areas of the body, most notably, the digestive tract and protective layer that covers our brain referred to as the blood-brain barrier, or BBB for short.
The BBB is a permeable layer within our skull that covers the brain and has the sole function of protecting the brain from hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, as well as foreign substances in the blood that may injure our brains. It’s a well known fact that inflammation in the digestive area causes irritable bowel syndrome; however, inflammation in the BBB is far worse and cause it to become leaky.
Some of the end results of this autoimmune response which essentially causes our antibodies to attack the cerebellum include:
- Memory loss
- Inability to focus
- Mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
- Diminished brain performance known as brain fog
- Chronic migraine
The end result of this is that the barrier becomes less effective at protecting our brain from foreign substances such bacteria and toxins, many of which lie within the body already and eventually get eradicated via normal bodily functions. To put things in retrospect, our bodies contain millions of bacteria on any given day.
The Impact a Leaky Barrier Has On the Brain
Once BBB becomes less effective, many of the bacteria within our bodies which our blood brain barrier would have prevented from crossing from our blood stream and into the brain is now able to pass through more easily. Once this occurs our autoimmune system kicks in and elevates the antibody levels in the brain, specifically the cerebellum. These antibodies work to remove gluten and any bacteria from the brain an inadvertently damages it in the process.
In conclusion, gluten weakens your brain’s protective layer, which in turn allows bacteria to pass through it and go straight into the brain more easily, which triggers our body’s autoimmune response of inflammation in the brain, which then causes our antibodies to attack the cerebellum.