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Can Eating Wheat Affect Mental Health?

Wheat—A Real “Downer”

One mechanism that can help explain the mysterious connection between wheat and mental health problems is the fact that wheat inhibits production of serotonin.

Neurotransmitters like serotonin can be found not just in your brain, but also in your gut. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and aggression, is found in your intestines, not your brain!

Therefore, it actually makes perfect sense to nourish your gut flora with probiotic foods and supplements to maintain optimal serotonin function, as it can have a profound impact on your mood, psychological health, and behavior. This conclusion is supported by a recent animal study, which found that the absence or presence of beneficial gut microorganisms during infancy permanently alters gene expression—specifically genes and signaling pathways involved in learning, memory, and motor control.

This suggests that gut bacteria is closely tied to early brain development and subsequent behavior!

These behavioral changes could be reversed as long as the mice were exposed to normal microorganisms early in life. But once the germ-free mice had reached adulthood, colonizing them with beneficial bacteria did not influence their behavior. According to Dr. Rochellys Diaz Heijtz, lead author of that study:

“The data suggests that there is a critical period early in life when gut microorganisms affect the brain and change the behavior in later life.”

The implications could be profound when you consider how many processed wheat products are consumed today, and from a very early age. Not only may our addiction to grains be fueling gastrointestinal diseases like celiac disease, along with wheat allergies, obesity, and diabetes; it may also contribute to deteriorating mental health, as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

It’s definitely worth considering, especially if you’re currently suffering with depression or any other psychiatric ailments.

Aside from that, ALL types of grains clearly contribute to insulin and leptin resistance, which are the primary underlying causes for most, if not all, chronic diseases—from diabetes to cancer. That alone is reason enough to restrict your intake of grains. But wheat may be of particular concern, for all the reasons discussed above.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Food, General Health, Health, Mental Wellness, , , , , , , , , ,

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Dr. Mercola

Dr. Mercola has been passionate about health and technology for most of his life. As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, he treated many thousands of patients for over 20 years. In the mid 90’s he integrated his passion for natural health with modern technology via the internet and developed a website, to spread the word about natural ways to achieve optimal health.


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8:48AM PDT on Mar 20, 2014

Thank you

9:16AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

I think it is the GMO wheat that is causing all the trouble. (genetically modified wheat). The wheat we eat is 80-90% GMO. The article didn't specify wheat versus GMO wheat. Check out this cbs news report by Dr Davis, Author of Wheat Belly or google his name and book.

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

People all over the world have been eating whole grains for eons and are often more healthy than those of us on the western diet eating so many processed foods!

It seems that everything and anything has a problem when it comes to ingesting it--some say eating fruit can only be done by eating fruit by itself and that eating it with any other food will cause a multitude of horrific problems for the body. Too bad, so sad!

Now it is whole grains that may well be toxic. Not meant for humans. Whatever. Well, will snack on whole grains, quinoa and my chicken, beef, fish and whatever. We only live once.
Someone mentioned the fatties will love this-what a pencil then person complaining that people who eat meat are fat, get a grip many people eat meat the world over and are not fat or obese and who are you to sit in judgement of those eating meat.
As with everything, do your research, check alternative sources because there are so many different theories out there.
Will go and snack on seedless grapes and I guess these are also bad for me as well.

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Sorry, I meant to say pencil thin vegetarians and vegans when this person discussed "Fatties."
It is bad enough the commercial world airbrushes photos of impossible to attain female bodies using underweight models as their yardstick of perfection. Putting down people because of their weight only pushes some to become anorexic, some teens and others pushed into eating disorders because society looks down on even healthy weight (not even talking overweight or obese) but the average looking female cannot attain weight "perfection" in some of these magazine ads.
In many parts of the world meat is part of the diet but is kept to a small portion of the meal. Everything in moderation.

9:35PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

Depends on your Nutritional Type.

3:33AM PDT on Sep 8, 2011

but wheat protien is much better than animals. is the possiblity of mental health effect no issue when your heart crys over the deaths of critters? who knows. someone here said strawberries have ample protien for human health anyway.

1:35PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011

Thanks. More reasons to keep my diet wheat free.

11:30PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

Thanks for sharing!

8:02PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

I gave up gluten over 2 years ago. My aching joints went away, no more bursitus, complexion cleared up, inflammation disappeared, thyroid function has increased, intestinal upset disappeared, cholesterol improved. This is what I have noticed that has improved..........hopefully my chances for getting ataxia, alzheimers, and heart disease like my parents and relatives has significantly decreased. It makes sense to me.

4:32PM PDT on Aug 30, 2011

thanks for this great article, I have been gluten free for almost six month and I feel so much better! have lost weight without trying, have more energy especially after meals, and for the women asking about bread, UDI"S is very good, I really like the pizza crusts, they are awesome easy and you can top anyway you like, not bad left over either, I cook them right on the oven shelf and they crisp up great, best to start with the crust frozen..

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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