Gluten Intolerance & Bi-Polar
Jul 10, 2011 | By Peter Mitchell
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.
Bi-Polar disorder creates extreme lows and highs of mood. Sometimes you'll feel despairing, fatigued and useless. But, at other points you may feel elated and energetic. These two opposite emotional poles give the illness its other name -- manic depression. Some studies show potential links between bipolar disorder and gluten intolerance -- a form of food allergy.
The exact causes of bipolar disorder are unclear. However, MayoClinic.com suggests that some of the potential causes involve hormonal imbalances, a lack of chemicals called neurotransmitters or physical differences in the brains of bipolar patients. The importance of chemicals in keeping your mood stable has led some researchers to speculate that diet could play a role in preventing Bi-Polar disorder.
Gluten, a substance found in wheat and many other grains, occurs in a wide range of popular American foods -- from bread and pasta, to sauces and biscuits. Celiacs -- people who can't handle gluten in the gut -- experience a range of symptoms from abdominal cramps to diarrhea when they eat gluten-rich foods.
Some studies link gluten intolerance with mental illnesses, particularly schizophrenia. For example, the BBC reports that researchers from a UK university found that up to 30 percent of people with schizophrenia have large amounts of antibodies designed to attack wheat gluten in their bodies, suggesting a gluten intolerance.
Two recent scientific studies focus on the possible link between gluten intolerance and bipolar disorder. However, neither offers a conclusive causal link. For example, a 2011 study published in "Bipolar Disorders" concludes that study participants with bipolar had higher levels of some antibodies associated with gluten intolerance, but not all.
Similarly, a 2008 study published in the "Journal of Pediatrics" shows very slightly higher levels of psychiatric issues including bipolar in children with gluten sensitivity. However, both only offer signs that future research could be worthwhile and don't establish a clear, significant link.
If you're gluten-intolerant you need to cut all gluten from your diet. This involves carefully checking food packages and reading up on common sources of dietary gluten.