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How Gluten Can Trigger Mood Swings, Depression and Anxiety




How Gluten Can Trigger Mood Swings, Depression and Anxiety

If your gut and what you put into it is often an afterthought you may be surprised to learn that your digestive system is literally your second brain, which has the power to influence your mood, mind, and behavior.
As such, nourishing your gut flora through nutrition becomes significant, because both brains—the one inside your head and the one in your abdomen each has its own essential needs.

Your brain and your gut work together in a synchronistic dance; your central nervous system (brain) is connected to your enteric nervous system (gut) via the vagus nerve.

And as it turns out, the greatest concentration of serotonin, the all-important feel-good neurotransmitter that factors heavily into mood, lives in your second brain, not your “first”! (This may account for the fact that researchers keep finding a link between an imbalance of gut bacteria and depression and more and more are using nutrition to treat this condition instead of medication which does nothing to address the root cause of the problem).

Here’s another shocker: 100 trillion bacteria take up residence in your body. That’s more than 10 times the number of cells in your entire body! Ideally, the ratio between the bacteria in your gut is 85% “good” and 15% “bad.” Nourishing your gut flora gives you the best opportunity to optimize serotonin production and protect your mental health.

Your gut bacteria are especially vulnerable to your lifestyle; so if you eat a lot of gluten, sugar and processed foods, your gut bacteria will suffer because in general gluten, sugar, and processed foods destroy good microflora and feed bad bacteria and yeast. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and all its products (bread, pasta, cakes,cookies, croissants, pizza); rye, barley and oats. So you can see how you are consuming gluten on a regular basis daily.

When you consume gluten and it decreases the amount of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, this can show up as gas, bloating, bad breath, constipation, diarrhea, intestinal toxicity, poor absorption of nutrients, yeast infections, thrush, toe fungus, dandruff, joint pain, eczema, and psoriasis to name a few, and of course, rotten moods. There simply isn’t enough serotonin being produced.

You may also find yourself craving more for gluten-containing foods such as refined sweets and starches, which will give you an initial high but then ultimately leave you feeling worse off than when you started.

The best way to find out if gluten is affecting your moods is to eliminate gluten from your diet and after 4 weeks – adding in gluten-containing foods back into your diet and observing the reaction. You will most probably feel drowsy, lazy, tired; you’ll get headaches; diarrhea or constipation and you will irritable.


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Dana Dinnawi

Dana Dinnawi is an Integrative Nutrition health coach specializing in empowering women to improve their health and family life. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she studied more than one hundred dietary theories and a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. She can be reached through her website and Facebook page.

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