Gluten Free Diets: Do They Increase The Risk Of Anxiety?

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the lining of the gut. The main trigger for the immune reaction appears to be a protein in wheat, called gluten. The disease is fairly common and can develop at any age, with around 1 % of the population affected. In some areas such as part of Africa, coeliac disease rates approach 6 %. The current treatment for the disease is the avoidance of gluten. There is a link between coeliac disease and mood disorders and studies have compared coeliac sufferers on a gluten free diet with control subjects to assess the risk of mood disorders. In study, female subjects consuming a gluten free diet had a higher risk of developing anxiety compared to control subjects. However, the risk of depression was not elevated in the same study. The cause for the association is not understood, but there may be underlying stress accompanying the disease which increases the risk of developing aberrant mood patterns, with anxious behaviour more likely in those with something to worry about. 

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Häuser, W., Janke, K. H., Klump, B., Gregor, M. and Hinz, A. 2010. Anxiety and depression in adult patients with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet. World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG. 16(22): 2780

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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