Many people are trying a gluten-free diet to see if it helps them lose weight or feel better.Those who are gluten intolerant find that this type of diet is beneficial for them.
But National Celiac Disease Awareness Day on September 13, 2013 draws attention to a select group of people who have been diagnosed with celiac disease, which means they truly cannot eat gluten without their body suffering in various ways, including mental health side effects.
According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness website, celiac disease is an autoimmune and digestive disorder. In this disorder, gluten consumption leads to an immune response that causes damage to the small intestine, leading to problems with nutrient absorption.
The foundation estimates that 1 in 141 Americans have the condition, but numbers may be higher because an estimated 83 percent who have celiac disease don’t know it, or they’ve been misdiagnosed.
Because a growing number of people are suffering, it’s important to understand how the disease affects every aspect of life.
Trudy Scott, a certified nutritionist and author, said in an email that celiac disease and gluten intolerance could cause negative mental health side effects.
She said there is research linking celiac disease to mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, social anxiety and schizophrenia. She noted that over 80 percent of her clients show improvement from depression and anxiety when they go on a gluten-free diet.
Many food companies are catching on, but Scott warned that not all gluten-free food is healthy. She said that if you want to avoid processed gluten-free foods, stick to “real whole food.”
Although it can be mentally tough to part with favorite foods containing gluten, it improves the lives of people with celiac disease to go on a gluten-free diet.
“Once you start to feel better again it won’t seem so difficult – you’ll feel empowered and thankful that you actually have control,” Scott said.
She said that using amino acid supplements temporarily can help with the cravings and emotional attachment to foods you have to give up.