Some people think I’m crazy when I talk about this. I used to be selective about who I told, but now I’m just going to put it out there for everyone to see because I want to raise awareness.

I believe that non celiac gluten sensitivity can make you feel low. Really low. Eating sandwiches and pasta daily can make you feel chronically depressed if gluten is not your friend.

There has been a lot of backlash in the media recently against people going gluten free as a trend. Going gluten free can be expensive and tricky to maintain. It takes will-power and even some level of social isolation. I find it hard to believe that anyone does it to be trendy. This backlash makes it difficult for the people, like me, who don’t tend to have digestive issues associated with gluten but have as reaction more difficult for people to comprehend. It affects my mood, I feel low, sad and irritable if I eat gluten. It also affects my thyroid function over the longer term, but the sadness is a quick reaction – within 24 hours of being exposed to gluten – it’s there. This is tricky to explain so I say – it makes me feel bloated.

I first heard of food affecting mental health when I studied Nutritional Medicine. I read a book by Dr Richard Mackarness called ‘Not All in The Mind’. In this book he writes about a man whom after eating a crumb of a food he was intolerant to would turn suffer an aggressive, murderous rage. Another woman struggled with violent outbursts towards herself and children and was ‘cured’ by identifying food intolerances. This was back in 1976.
It still took me a while to realise that gluten was affecting my mood. In fact it was only through a chance trial of a gluten free diet to support my child who has autism. That I saw the veil of low mood begin to lift.
When gluten was removed from my son’s diet he became more coherent, less spaced out and more sociable. When he was accidentally exposed to gluten within 24 hours he was desperately sad and said he wanted to kill himself. He was 6 years old at the time.

I was pleased to hear that I wasn’t alone in making this association. Dr Tom O Bryan was looking for any anecdotal information that people had about gluten affecting them on a mental level. He is aware of the neurological effect of gluten and so are others such as Dr Perlmutter author of ‘Grain Brain’. Dr Perlmutter talks about how gluten is a foreign protein for humans and can cause brain inflammation which we now know is linked to depression. He also suggests that this gluten-based reaction is responsible for the development of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and dementia.
Gluten is not the only factor in developing depression or chronic low mood, but it can be significant.