Tuesday, January 3, 2012


The recent report that gluten plays an important role in keeping away depression is interesting and this has been said in relation to the feelings among those restrained by gluten allergy and celiac disease. But a larger question is whether same holds good for people not eating wheat and wheat products regularly and there are millions whose diet is based predominantly on rice, maize and other coarse grains and cassava. From quality angle wheat proteins are not considered high because of the deficiency of the essential amino acid Lysine but as a part of the staple diet wheat may cause symptoms like craving which after all cannot be correlated to gluten as there are many other constituents in wheat besides gluten. However considering that the study was limited to women suffering from celiac disease the findings cannot be generalized. Here is a take on this interesting study.

"The next time when you plan to skip that Arrabbiata pasta at your favourite restaurant, think again. A new US based study says  that having to follow a restrictive diet that limits the consumption of foods like bread and pasta has been shown to cause depression, disordered eating and impaired quality of life in women suffering from celiac disease. The new report that delves into the psychiatric impacts of leading a gluten-free lifestyle showed these results after a widespread research. In a study published in the December issue of Chronic Illness, researchers from Penn State University, Syracuse University and Drexel University analysed the online answers of 177  women who suffer from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye-based products. Symptoms of the illness include abdominal pain, constipation, decreased appetite, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
In their study, researchers found that women who adhered to strict gluten-free diets also reported higher rates of stress, depression, and body image issues compared to the general population. Where their study falls short, researchers say, is understanding what comes first: disordered eating or depression. Not only does celiac disease impose a slew of dietary restrictions, the illness also increases "psychosocial distress," said study co-author Josh Smyth of Penn State. "Going out to eat with friends or to a holiday potluck is a much different experience for these people because they have to be vigilant and monitor their diets," he said in a statement. "They may feel that they are a burden on a host or hostess. In many cases the only treatment option they are given is to manage their diets."
The results of their study could also have implications for other dietary illnesses  like food allergies, diabetes and Crohn's disease."

Psychologically depriving one of a food taken regularly during early stage of growth in life can be expected to create a feeling of uneasiness at least for a few days though this is not some thing that cannot be changed. Thus those used to a rice based diet usually feel miserable when rice is denied for a few days and same is true with people wedded to regular diets based on different staples. Why denial of wheat creates symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain or any other physical discomfort is not understandable. There are millions of diabetics in the world suffering from sugar intolerance but due to diet management and efficient drug therapy all of them lead a normal life. With thousands of products being developed and marketed containing no gluten but without the consumer being aware of its absence unless the labels are perused, there should be no cause for gluten allergic people to feel "depressed".


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