Gluten and Cognitive Function

Angie Szumlinski Health, Studies

Gluten has become a bad word in our society, everywhere you look, labels say “gluten-free”, you can even order a pizza with a gluten-free crust! Most recently, the concept that gluten could affect cognitive function was popularized by a best-selling book “Grain Brain”. Concern for such an association is in part due to the patients with celiac disease. Current findings on the association between dietary gluten and cognition in celiac disease are inconsistent.

Despite the lack of evidence on the gluten-cognition association among individuals without celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, proponents of a wider effect of gluten beyond celiac disease have hypothesized that wheat may play a role as an exorphin, exerting central opioidlike effects and thus affecting memory and mood. All of that said, the Global Council on Brain Health and the American Medical Director’s Association suggest that gluten intake is not associated with cognitive decline.

A study published by JAMA found that restricting dietary gluten in women for the purpose of maintaining or improving cognition is not warranted in the absence of celiac diseases or established gluten sensitivity. At the end of the day, there will be another study that has different results but for today, enjoy what you are able to eat, stay healthy, exercise, and get outdoors! Stay informed, stay well and stay tuned!