Is There An Association Between A Gluten Intolerance And Alzheimer’s Disease?
Could immune reactions to gluten lead to the symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease? This is an intriguing question and I suspect that the connection is very likely.
Immunological reactions to gluten can lead to brain atrophy, nerve damage, nutrient deficiencies, hypoperfused (low blood flow) brain regions, vasculitis (inflamed blood vessels in the brain), and white matter lesions in the brain. This could potentially contribute to to Alzheimer’s disease or dementia symptoms.
One study mentioned that two patients with Alzheimer’s disease were later found to have celiac disease. Once a gluten-free diet was initiated, their cognitive symptoms improved (15). The study findings are not really that surprising, immune reactions against gluten and cross reactions against brain tissue can occur with a gluten intolerance and this could contribute to cognitive decline. Associated nutrient deficiencies (with intestinal villi damage) can certainly affect a patient’s cognitive abilities as well.
I think researchers need to look closer at this possibility. Many families are negatively impacted by this disease. If gluten is the underlying culprit, a therapeutic gluten-free diet would be an attractive treatment that may improve their cognitive status.
This study just mentioned the possible connection to celiac disease, I strongly suspect that non-celiac gluten intolerance could also contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore negative celiac tests wouldn’t rule out this possible connection. Testing for non-celiac gluten intolerance would also need to occur.
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