Beyond Celiac Publishes Research Connecting Brain Fog to Celiac Disease

Beyond Celiac

PHILADELPHIA, PABeyond Celiac, the leading catalyst for a celiac disease cure in the United States, announced that it has co-published research in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology that details how brain fog and other neurocognitive symptoms affect those with celiac disease in their day-to-day lives. Gluten-induced neurocognitive impairment is commonly reported in people with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), but there is little understanding or appreciation of the extent and impact of this condition by the medical and scientific community.

“Gluten-Induced Neurocognitive Impairment: Results of a Nationwide Study” dives into research completed by Beyond Celiac and Northeastern University. Nearly 1,400 survey responses from those who have celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity were collected. Participants were asked to choose from the following options to describe their brain fog: difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, grogginess, feeling detached, and mental confusion. Participants could also choose to provide their own description of their experience of brain fog.

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Participants with NCGS and celiac disease did not differ significantly in their responses. The most commonly chosen descriptors of brain fog were difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and grogginess. Over 500 participants chose to provide their own description. Qualitative analysis of these responses showed impacts on cognitive, physical, and psychological health as well as quality of life as common themes.

The survey also asked participants about timing of symptom onset, peak, and duration. Again, responses did not significantly differ between the two conditions. Brain fog starts most often between 30 minutes to 1 hour after ingesting gluten in both celiac disease (20.6%) and NCGS (23.0%) participant groups. The majority of participants reported their symptoms peaked in the first 24 hours after eating gluten (58.6% of participants with celiac disease, 72.5% of participants with NCGS). 26.7% of participants with celiac disease and 30.4% with NCGS reported their brain fog symptoms lasted 1–2 days, and 20.3% with celiac disease and 24.5% with NCGS reported symptoms lasting 3–5 days.

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“All of the latest research is clearly showing that celiac disease is not just a GI condition. There are serious long-term health risks from celiac disease across a broad range of symptoms and currently no effective treatments available. The gluten-free diet is a challenge, and the reality is that accidental exposure is having a serious impact on our community members’ abilities to function at their fullest in their daily lives,” said Beyond Celiac CEO Alice Bast. “Our hope is that these findings lead to additional research of these symptoms.”

Lead study author Jessica Edwards George, PhD noted, “We know because of this research study that gluten-induced neurocognitive symptoms are of sufficient severity to impact an individual’s functioning. As such, we hope these findings will result in the regular assessment of neurocognitive symptoms for individuals with celiac disease in follow-up care, and that this constellation of symptoms will be measured in clinical trials of potential treatments.”

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The research also aligns with data from a recent Go Beyond Celiac Gluten Exposure Survey of 1,500 celiac disease patients that highlighted a number of neurological and psychological symptoms reported after exposure to gluten. Brain fog (86.0%) and fatigue (90.8%) were the two non-GI symptoms reported most often.

Celiac disease is a serious, genetic autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, more than half of whom are still undiagnosed. The disease causes damage to the small intestine, resulting in debilitating symptoms, and if left untreated can lead to serious, long-term health problems including infertility and some types of cancer.

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