Gluten-Free Diet May Lift the 'Fog' of Celiac Patients

Scores on attention, memory tests improved after one year

FRIDAY, June 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The "brain fog" experienced by many celiac disease patients seems to improve as their intestines heal after adopting a gluten-free diet, a small new study suggests. The study appears in the July issue of the journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

Greg Yelland, M.D., an adjunct senior lecturer in gastroenterology at Monash University in Clayton, Australia, and colleagues administered tests measuring memory, visual-spatial ability, attention, information processing, and motor function in 11 newly diagnosed celiac patients. Blood tests gauging antibodies to gluten also tracked the condition of participants' small intestines, and medical procedures (endoscopies and biopsies) evaluated celiac-specific damage to the small bowel.

Over 12 months, all participants closely followed a gluten-free diet. As researchers observed improvements in patients' intestinal damage and gluten antibody levels, they also noted statistically significant improvements in tests assessing verbal fluency, attention, and motor function.

"Maintaining a gluten-free diet is essential not only for [celiac patients'] physical well-being, but for mental well-being also," Yelland told HealthDay. "Given the extent of anecdotal data, we would have been surprised not to have found evidence of minor cognitive impairment in untreated celiac disease patients."

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