January 7, 2011

Is this common protein attacking your brain?

Many years ago, in Alaska, I saw a senior lady, who other than a balance problem, was in fine physical shape. She had cerebellar ataxia. The cerebellum is a part of your brain below the occipital lobe. It's responsible for balance.

I saw this woman before I understood that a common food problem could have been the cause of her neurological degeneration. Our intense therapies had little impact. But a simple dietary change could have solved her problem quickly. And it could solve your balance problems as well. Here's the reason why.

An article in a respected neurology journal says that gluten antibodies may attack your brain. Gluten is a protein common in grains, especially wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats. Wheat is the greatest offender. Up to 30% of the American population may have a problem with gluten.

In the past, doctors thought gluten reactions affected only the gut. As time passed, it's become clear gluten can affect your skin and joints. It can cause inflammation in the thyroid. In fact, it can be the underlying cause of any so-called autoimmune disease. And now, it's associated with ataxia (central nervous system balance problems). Your body can make antibodies which deposit and damage neurological (cerebellar) tissue in the absence of antibodies attacking your gut.

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Please know that you can have neurological symptoms from gluten even if you have no gut symptoms. If you have ANY unexplained inflammatory or degenerative condition, I suggest a totally gluten-free diet for three months before drawing any conclusions.

I fortunately tolerate wheat and grains just fine. But, I don't eat bread (and grains) very often. Bread is a dead processed food. And grains require cooking to eat. Even though they might be packed with calories, they don't offer significant useful nutrition for your body. That's why I recommend avoiding grains as much as possible, even if you don't have an auto-immune disorder.

If you do want to occasionally eat grains, the safest and most nutritious are quinoa, millet, and amaranth. Rice falls in between these and the gluten grains. And if you know you have a sensitivity to gluten, I suggest you try Advanced Bionutritionals Gluten Sensitivity Formula for those times when you don't know if the food you're eating has gluten in it.

Ref: Ann Neurol 2008;64:332-343.

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