Do you ever worry that your low moods, brain fog and lethargy are actually [gasp!] depression?
I remember driving back early from work with yet another migraine.
Barely able to concentrate, crying and so depressed, I contemplated simply driving straight on into the trees instead of turning into the bend ahead.
I mean, I felt lifeless anyway so what was the point of this constant battle?
At that time, the only thing that stopped me was the thought that I might not succeed and end up in more pain than I already was!
I didn’t know then that the root cause of my symptoms was something I was eating every day.
Gluten almost killed me. It was making my body sick, but it also almost drove me to kill myself.
Do you feel like you just can’t cope with everyday stresses as well as other people?
Exhausted. All. The. Time.! Can’t think straight and your memory is so bad these days?
Maybe it’s your age??? Like, WHAT?! Already???
I felt like this at age 30, but it took me years to figure out that gluten was the cause of my craziness! And there is growing scientific evidence to suggest it could be the same for you.
One of the lesser known effects of gluten intolerance is that it can fundamentally affect your cognition.
Awareness of celiac disease and gluten sensitivities has thankfully become more prominent in recent years. But most information covers physical effects such as bloating, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, constipation and physical fatigue.
Not so much is said about the effects gluten can have on our minds, our emotions, memory and thought processes.
But these symptoms can often be associated with gluten and can be equally devastating when you’re suffering with them.
What’s happening in your body?
When you are sensitive to gluten, your gut becomes inflamed and the walls of your intestines become damaged and permeable. This is often referred to as leaky gut syndrome.
These leaks in your intestines allow food particles and other pathogens to travel from your intestines and into other parts of your body…
It’s a complicated process but put very basically, these particles travel via the bloodstream and set off a myriad of responses in your body:
- They cause inflammation in your organs.
- They trigger an immune response that can lead to many different auto-immune diseases (ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, etc)
- They disrupt the production of hormones in your brain, thyroid and adrenal glands
Think about what you know so far about being happy…
I bet it includes references to ‘happy hormones’, right?
Or maybe you’ve heard that depression is caused by a ‘chemical imbalance’?
If you’ve googled your symptoms you may even have come across the term ‘adrenal fatigue’
The common factor in all of these is that they each describe some type of hormonal activity.
And a leaky gut can cause havoc with those hormones as your immune system goes to war on the invaders infiltrating your body.
In addition to hormone disruption, gluten can be a real bitch to your ability to absorb and use nutrients vital to the health of your nervous system and brain function.
When your intestines are damaged by gluten, it reduces your ability to absorb nutrients from your food. These vital nutrients include the B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium and chromium, and essential fatty acids that help keep your brain and nerve function healthy.
It makes sense to at least rule out gluten as a possible cause of your symptoms.
So, what do you do?
As a health coach, my first suggestion would be to try an elimination diet, excluding all gluten (and possibly other common allergenic foods) for at least 2 weeks.
If you have a busy life this can sound like such a daunting prospect!
But it really is the best way to find out for sure if gluten is causing or exacerbating your symptoms.
I often lead clients through the process of an elimination diet and this involves much more than just waking up one day and deciding you won’t eat any more gluten!
To be successful it takes forward planning and a good serving of practical and emotional preparation.
Your First Step [It’s probably not what you think]
The most important step in this process is to actually decide you want to do it and make a commitment.
Sounds obvious, right?! But it’s so important to give this step the attention it deserves because it will see you through the challenges ahead.
Take time to acknowledge your resistance points. By this I mean those thoughts that stop you from taking the plunge. Those things that you tell yourself in your head, such as:
“It will be so inconvenient to think of what to eat when I’m busy”
“I have no idea what to eat instead of pasta and sandwiches!”
“I’m worried that my loved ones will think I’m over-the-top if I do this”
Write all of these resistances down. Don’t skip this! This process gets them out of your head and helps you to formulate solutions and move forward.
Better yet, ask someone supportive to go through your list with you. Simply acknowledging these resistances weakens them.
When you do this, you give yourself the impetus to take action. Trust me, this really works!
Take Action Now:
Do you have something stopping you from finding out if gluten could be the culprit of your symptoms? Tell me!
Use the form below to tell me your biggest concern or question about trying an elimination diet. I can help by answering you in future blog posts (don’t worry, I won’t use your name).
Whatever your resistance is, I guarantee you won’t be the only person that has it. You can help yourself and others by submitting your concern.
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