People with celiac disease often experience ‘brain fog’ in addition to intestinal problems, but a new study shows that adhering to a gluten-free diet can lead to improvements in cognition that correlate with the extent of intestinal healing.
The year-long small pilot study published in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics involved 11 patients (8 females, 3 males), newly diagnosed coeliac disease and commencing a gluten-free diet.
The patients were tested with a battery of cognitive tests at 0, 12 and 52 weeks. Information processing efficacy, memory, visuospatial ability, motoric function and attention were tested.
At the same time, small bowel biopsies were collected via routine gastroscopy at weeks 12 and 52 and were compared to those taken at the beginning of the study.
The scientists were then able to compare cognitive performance to serum concentrations of tissue transglutaminase antibodies (which are indicative of autoimmune conditions such as celiac disease), biopsy outcomes and other biological markers.
The findings of the current study indicate that ridding the diet of gluten not only help heal the gut, it may also help address these problems that are so common to celiac disease patients.
“The study outcomes highlight the importance for individuals with celiac disease of maintaining a gluten-free diet not just for physical well-being but also for mental well-being,” said senior author Dr. Greg Yelland.