What is gluten intolerance and Celiac disease?
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.
Symptoms of celiac disease in adults
Common symptoms of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance include irritable bowel syndrome, slight weight loss or inability to lose weight, and feelings of severe exhaustion among others. Sometimes the disease is silent until major destruction of the mucosal lining has occurred. If left undetected or for a long period of time with no intervention, the disease may progress to malabsorption problems and secondary autoimmune diseases (1).
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 (1). This study’s objective was to observe whether a gluten-free diet and ADHD food intolerances could alleviate behavioural symptoms. What's more, clinical points regarding gluten and ADHD were put to light in the research:
• 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.
Celiac ADHD link
The result of this study indicates that gluten-free diets improve symptoms of ADHD. In addition, celiac disease and gluten sensitivity left untreated may "predispose patients to mental and behavioural disorders such as ADHD" (2).
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.
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1. Niederhofer, H. (2011). Association of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Celiac
2. Disease: A Brief Report. Primary Care Companion CNS Disorders, 13(3)