mental health

Celiac Disease and your mental health

How can Celiac Disease can affect your mental health?

To answer that, let’s first discuss The stages of Celiac Disease:

1. Undiagnosed Celiac Disease:

When you are unaware you have this condition, you are experiencing symptoms such as brain fog, confusion, memory impairment, anxiety, depression.

2. Diagnosed Celiac Disease:

At this stage you have received a positive diagnosis of Celiac Disease and have gone off gluten. But it likely has caused damage to your gut lining. This is known as leaky gut. Leaky gut is a real condition. In Celiac Disease, when you consume gluten, the body’s own immune system attacks itself. This results in the little hairs that line your intestines called villi, in being destroyed. It also creates gaps where food particles, pathogens, toxins and other things are able to pass through the intestinal barrier into the bloodstream. Having a compromised gut lining results in the gut-brain axis being affected. When your gut is not functioning correctly due to malabsoption and poor gut bacteria, this results in nutrient deficiencies.

Some of the main nutrient deficiencies those with Celiac Disease experience are Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and Iron or Ferritin. Vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient that your body needs for processes, like DNA synthesis, energy production, and central nervous system function. Deficiency of this vitamin results in fatigue, generalized weakness, and depression. [3] 

Vitamin D is needed for your brain to function properly. Some studies have found links between low blood levels of vitamin D and an increased risk of depression. [4].

Celiac disease also results in the imbalance of hormones like serotonin. (90% of all the body’s serotonin is made in the gut)[1]. It also affects your thyroid [2] and all this combined results in a hormone imbalance. Hormonal imbalance results in mood disorders, anxiety and depression.

3. Treated Celiac Disease:

This is once you have removed gluten and hopefully healed your gut. However Celiac Disease is a life long condition that can impact you emotionally, mentally, physically, financially and socially. Many people find that the social aspect involving being gluten-free is a lot harder than staying off gluten itself.

Avoiding gluten can cause anxiety, food related disorders and even depression. Studies have noted that there are those with Celiac Disease who feel like they have a poorer quality of life due to the social limitations it places on them. [5]

How can you Look after your mental health when you have Celiac Disease?

1. Make sure you get your annual blood work done. Have your Vitamin D, B12, Folate and ferritin, Calcium, and thyroid panel checked.

2. Increase nutrient dense foods with the above vitamins in. If you can’t get enough RDA of them, consider supplementation after speaking to your health care provider.

3. Make sure you get plenty of exercise each week.

4. Don’t isolate yourself socially.

5. Make sure you have a strong support system of friends and family that understand your condition.

6. Have a strong health care system and consider health coaching for extra support and guidance. See my service page here.


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