Written by Toronto Nutritionist Janet Zdichavsky CNP
Have you ever had difficulty concentrating and felt you were operating in a fog? This common condition is aptly known as Brain Fog. Its symptoms can include forgetfulness, confusion, poor concentration, lack of clarity, feeling tired and difficulty in completing tasks. Although brain fog can be caused by many conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome or factors such as lack of sleep, recent studies indicate that it is also one of the symptoms for Celiac Disease.
People suffering from Celiac disease are sensitive to gluten and ingesting foods containing gluten can cause an immune reaction in their small intestines, damaging the inner surface of the small intestines. The inner surface of the small intestines is lined with villi, small finger-like projections, which aid in absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. Gluten ingestion in Celiac disease damages the villi causing inability to absorb certain nutrients, such as calcium, magnesium and vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, leading to a host of symptoms including brain fog. Interestingly, non-celiac gluten sensitivity can also lead to brain fog.
Gluten is a type of protein found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye. This protein can be found in baked goods and it is this ingredient that gives dough its “stretchy” and chewy quality.
Gluten is also used as a stabilizer and a thickener and can be a hidden ingredient in other processed foods such as ice-cream, ketchup, soy sauce, marinades and salad dressings.
Clearing brain fog through diet and supplements
A gluten-free diet can lead to relief from symptoms associated with Celiac disease, including brain fog. A strict gluten-free diet, and usually as I find as a Nutritionist in Toronto, a personalized nutrition diet and plan, will give the intestinal villi time to heal and prevent any new damage from happening, eventually clearing brain fog and other symptoms. However, during this healing time, which may take several years, nutritional supplements can aid in relief of some of the symptoms due to continued malabsorption of nutrients. Glutamine, probiotics and Omega 3 are supplements that can aid in healing the villi.
Glutamine is an amino acid that is involved in metabolic processes and serves as a source of fuel for the cells lining the intestine, promoting healing in these cells.
Probiotics are bacteria that help in maintaining a healthy digestive system. There are many strains of probiotics and some of these help in restoring a balance in the good and bad bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can assist in getting rid of toxins created by gluten insensitivity.
Omega 3 are fatty acids found in fish and fish oils. These are not made by our body and must be taken in by diet. Omega 3 are known to help in reducing inflammation and also in the functioning of organs such as our heart and brain. Malabsorption of omega 3 can lead to many other disorders.
It is important at this stage to differentiate between gluten intolerance and wheat allergy. A wheat allergy generates allergy-causing antibody to proteins found in wheat but gluten causes an abnormal immune system reaction in the small intestines. Typically, avoiding wheat for people with wheat allergies takes care of the problem but gluten intolerant people need to ensure that they are removing all foods containing gluten from their diet. The obvious foods that need to be cut from a gluten-free diet are wheat, barley and rye. However, there are many other foods containing gluten that need to be removed too:
- Breads, cakes and pies
- Crackers and cookies
- Soy sauce
- Flavoured coffee and tea
- Beer – contains malt that is made from barley
When reading labels at the grocery store, check for ingredients such as malt or hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Both contain gluten. Foods that can be enjoyed in a gluten-free diet include:
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
- Meat, poultry, eggs and fish – plain without any marinades
- Rice milk, Organic soy milk, almond milk, plain Biobest yogurt
- Corn and rice
- Quinoa and millet
- Wine and liquors
- Unflavoured coffee and black or green tea
- 100% gluten-free cookies, candies, cakes, ice-cream etc. – check your local health food store for options
At some point in time, we may have all gone through some degree of brain fog which could have been due to a large number of reasons such as lack of sleep, dehydration etc. However, if this “off” feeling is constant and hindering daily activities, you may be suffering from brain fog due to gluten intolerance and/or Celiac disease. It is best to talk to your nutritionist who can suggest a gluten-free personalized diet and supplements suitable to your specific needs.
IF YOU REQUIRE IMMEDIATE RELIEF, HELP DUE TO CELIAC DESEASE AND REQUIRE A PERSONALIZED DIET FOR HEALING AND FEELING NORMAL AGAIN: CALL ALLERGY SPECIALIST JANET ZDICHAVSKY TORONTO NUTRITIONIST 416-494-0354 janethealth.com