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Gluten is a sticky and gluey blend of proteins found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. You may associate gluten sensitivity with gut troubles like bloating, gas, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea.
As it turns out, sensitivity to gluten is responsible for a wide range of symptoms—including neurological symptoms.
And sometimes, these may be the only signs of gluten sensitivity. (1)
- Anxiety and depression
- Brain fog
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder)
- Bipolar disorder
If you have any of these symptoms and no gut distress, you may still be sensitive to gluten. People who are affected by Celiac disease or non-Celiac gluten sensitivity feel better only when on a 100% gluten-free diet.
There are no laboratory tests that specifically identify gluten sensitivity. In the case of gluten-triggered autoimmunity, when the cells of the small intestine are completely damaged, a physician can diagnose Celiac disease—not before.
What Is Epilepsy?
Up to 40% of children diagnosed with autism may also have epilepsy. Removing gluten from the diet could be a solution to calm inflammation in the body and brain that leads to epileptic seizures.
Epilepsy often begins in childhood, or between the ages of 5-20 years old, and is characterized by more than two seizures a day.
Chinese medicine, which uses the natural elements to describe health and disease, tells us that seizures and epilepsy are caused by wind in the body. The Western medical equivalent to wind is inflammation.
And sure enough, when we dig into the Western medical research on seizures and epilepsy, we find that there is always some level of inflammation. This inflammation occurs in the brain, but it can also be systemic—meaning that it happens throughout the entire body.
Seizures are symptoms. Children on the autism spectrum and those who live with one or more autoimmune disorders commonly have seizures. (2) Up to 40% of those with autism may also have epilepsy. (3) In all disorders, there is always some degree of inflammation—both systemically and in the brain.
A Gluten-Free Diet May Be the Only Way to Address Epilepsy
In Celiac disease, your own immune system attacks and destroys intestinal cells. Gluten triggers this immune response and, so far, the most effective treatment for Celiac disease is a gluten-free diet.
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 3 million Americans have Celiac disease, and as many as 18 million Americans have non-Celiac gluten sensitivity.
While as high as 16% of epileptics may have undiagnosed Celiac disease, the relationship between epilepsy and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (those without Celiac disease) is less clear. (4) In spite of this, a gluten-free diet is not often mentioned when people are diagnosed with epilepsy.
Using Diet to Control Epilepsy
The ketogenic diet, high in fat and low in carbohydrates, is a diet that physicians have used for 80 years to treat seizures. The diet forces the body to burn fat as fuel—rather than sugar.
Other diets have also been successful in controlling epilepsy.
The low glycemic index treatment (LGIT), developed in 2002 by Dr. Elizabeth Thiele and Heidi Pfeifer from the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, is effective for children with either generalized or partial onset seizures.
The diet was developed in response to the ketogenic diet, which is rigid and can be difficult to follow. The LGIT allows more carbohydrates and foods that have a low glycemic index. Whole grains—such as wheat, rye, and barley—fall into this category.
Heidi Pfeifer explains that, “The rate at which a food is digested and absorbed also affects its glycemic index—so buttering a piece of bread can actually reduce its glycemic index.” (5)
Unfortunately, neither diet takes into account gluten sensitivity or the health of the gut.
Removing a trigger food like gluten is only part of the solution. When controlling epilepsy with diet, we also want to heal the gut lining and restore balance to the inner ecosystem.
At Body Ecology, we believe that the inner ecosystem of the gut is critically important and an often overlooked aspect of healing. This is why we promote the use of coconut water kefir and fermented foods. When we introduce small amounts of beneficial bacteria and yeast into the body on a daily basis, we help to heal the gut.
Vitality SuperGreen is designed to specifically address cells in the small intestine that are worn thin and damaged; it contains GlutImmune, a supercharged form of glutamine. Studies have found that glutamine is the preferred fuel source of the small intestine. We also know that glutamine increases the number of cells in the small intestine and the height of those cells. (6)(7)
What To Remember Most About This Article:
Gluten is a sticky protein blend found in grains. It can cause sensitivity to result in digestive issues like cramping, constipation, gas, and bloating. Gluten sensitivity can even lead to anxiety, insomnia, ADHD, and epilepsy.
A condition like epilepsy may often start in childhood and is diagnosed when more than two seizures occur a day. Medical research tells us that epilepsy is triggered by inflammation in the brain. Children with autism or autoimmune disorders are likely to experience seizures as a symptom of this inflammation.
Removing a trigger food like gluten from the diet could help to control epilepsy, along with healing the gut by drinking coconut water kefir and eating fermented foods. Vitality SuperGreen provides a supercharged form of glutamine called GlutImmune to fuel the small intestine and heal the inner ecosystem.
- P Baglioni and G Das. Coeliac disease: does it always present with gastrointestinal symptoms? QJM. 2010 Dec;103(12):999-1000. doi: 10.1093/qjmed/hcq046. Epub 2010 Apr 11.
- A Vincent and PB Crino. Systemic and neurologic autoimmune disorders associated with seizures or epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2011; 52: 12–17. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2011.03030.x
- L Gabis, et al. Autism and epilepsy: cause, consequence, comorbidity, or coincidence? Epilepsy Behav. 2005 Dec;7(4):652-6. Epub 2005 Oct 24.
- M Hadjivassiliou, et al. Does cryptic gluten sensitivity play a part in neurological illness? Lancet. 1996; 347: 369 – 371
- BR Thomson, et al. Nutritional modulation of the inflammatory response in inflammatory bowel disease- From the molecular to the integrative to the clinical. World J Gastroenterol 2007 January 7;13(1):1-7
- A von Kreel, et al. Glutamine and the preservation of gut integrity. The Lancet. 341(8857): 1363-1365.