ADHD & Gluten

Hi, I’m Tiffany.

It is my goal to use my extensive education around the human body and nutrition to empower you to learn about how nutrition is linked to your health – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Celiac disease is a destructive inflammatory disease of the mucosa of the upper small intestine resulting from gluten ingestion in susceptible individuals. Villous atrophy occurs with chronic ingestion of gluten – the protein found in either the grain or products made from wheat, barley, and rye. The treatment for the disease is maintaining a gluten-free diet for healing of the mucosal lining in the digestive tract.

Common symptoms of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance include irritable bowel syndrome, anemia, slight weight loss or inability to lose weight, and fatigue. Sometimes the disease is silent until major destruction of the mucosal lining has occurred. If undetected, the disease may progress into malabsorption problems and secondary autoimmune diseases such as thyroiditis (Niederhofer, 2011).

Other common symptoms with gluten intolerance and Celiac disease are psychiatric as well as neurologic. In adults, depressive symptoms are often present and in some cases symptoms improved greatly soon after starting a gluten-free diet (Neiderhofer, 2011). This study’s objective was to observe whether a gluten-free diet could alleviate behavioral symptoms.

Niederhofer (2011) discussed some clinical points regarding gluten and ADHD. They are listed below:

♦There is evidence that ADHD is not only a separate disorder, but also a symptom of

various other diseases.

♦Current evidence supports checking antiendomysium and antigliadin antibodies in

patients with ADHD.

♦Clinicians can help patients with ADHD avoid drug treatment by adding new

diagnostic tools.

The result of this study indicates that gluten-free diets improve symptoms of ADHD significantly. In addition, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity left untreated may “predispose patients to mental and behavioral disorders such as ADHD” (Niederhofer, 2011). Research also suggests that even without a definitive diagnosis of Celiac disease, the treatment of a gluten-free diet is often administered due to the high correlation of improved symptoms and the problems associated with misdiagnosis of Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. Despite the small sample size of this study, the results strongly suggest that celiac diagnosis should be considered along with ADHD symptoms and checklist.

Niederhofer, H. (2011). Association of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Celiac

Disease: A Brief Report. Primary Care Companion CNS Disorders, 13(3): doi:

            10.4088/PCC.10br01104

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