Part 2 of 3: A series on food, gut health and mental health by Guest Author, Sue Westwind

Posted on November 21, 2012


Sue Westwind

In sorting out the cause of any number of chronic maladies psychiatry has crammed into their various and expanding DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual) editions, it takes courage to face food addictions.

Especially when two of the worst offenders are the most touted staples for healthy living ever:  drink your milk, eat your sliced bread!

Native to the Near East, today’s wheat kernels resemble little of what sustained our near and distant ancestors.

Here’s the cardiologist-author of the runaway bestseller, Wheat Belly:

Whole grains of 2012 are also not the whole grains of 1950, the 19th century, the Bible, or pre-biblical times. Modern wheat, in particular, is genetically distant from its predecessors, thanks to the extreme genetic changes (not genetic modification!) inflicted on wheat in the 1960s and 1970s in the name of increased yield-per-acre…the wheat of today is a high-yield, semi-dwarf variant that stands around 2-feet tall, with marked changes in its genetic code. (Dr. William Davis,

Those changes are to fluff up the gluten in wheat.

Says the guru of natural health online, Dr. Mercola:

“Gluten” comes from the Latin word for glue, and its adhesive properties hold bread and cake together. But those same properties interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including the nutrients from other foods in the same meal.

The result is a glued-together constipating lump in your gut rather than a nutritious, easily digested meal.

The undigested gluten then triggers your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, which can cause symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain.

In more recent years it’s been shown that the condition can also cause a much wider array of symptoms that are not gastrointestinal in nature, further complicating proper diagnosis. [Such as depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Read on. -Sue]  (Why is Wheat Gluten Disorder on the Rise? July 23, 2009)

Experts in gluten intolerance and celiac disease cite depression and schizophrenia as the likely mental health issues faced when following our standard, wheat-engorged diet.

It’s the gliadin in gluten that damages the small intestine, and the gobs of gliadin we’re getting are making us gorge:

Gliadin has been increased in quantity and changed in structure, such that it serves as a powerful appetite stimulant. When you eat wheat, you want more wheat and in fact want more of everything else — to the tune of 400 more calories per day. That’s the equivalent of 41.7 pounds per year, an overwhelming potential weight gain that accumulates inexorably despite people’s efforts to exercise longer and curtail other foods — all the while blaming themselves for their lack of discipline and watching the scale climb higher and higher, and their bellies growing bigger and bigger. (Dr. Davis, “Triticum Fever”)

What about wheat and our moods?

As early as 1966 a researcher named F. Curtis Dohan was studying the effects of a milk-free, gluten-free diet on schizophrenics.

He found they improved, and relapses were dramatically reduced.

Here is a summary of psychiatric issues and celiac disease, or gluten intolerance:

Yes, milk is also one of those things to avoid if you wish to optimize living large with clarity, energy, and optimism.

One researcher put together the evidence from 100 scientific articles:

It’s important to understand that this goes beyond “lactose intolerance.” It’s casein that’s the culprit too, the protein in dairy (lactose is the sugar).

There are also yeasts and parasites that can turn a mind toward dangerous states.

Toxoplasmosis (toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii) is a parasite commonly found in cat feces; it’s the reason pregnant women are told not to empty the litter box.

For a long time researchers felt that those others could be infected and stay asymptomatic.

Not specific to the gut, lately T. gondii has been linked to schizophrenia, bipolar conditions, paranoia and suicidal feelings.

Perhaps more common but also more diffuse in its physical and mental symptoms, is Candida albicans, a yeast ever present in the gut but problematic when encouraged to proliferate by sugar, antibiotics, processed foods, birth control bills, steroids or NSAIDS. 

So very much has been written on the subject I’d just like to offer one good, solid overview article by the leading expert:

Here is a helpful how-to from an autism resource that can apply to anyone:

All good gut remedies–and they changed my life and energized me for over a decade.

But lately, something’s wrong. I’m sticking with my diet but the headaches are back, and with them the fatigue which leads to negative self-talk.

What the heck is going on?

In the final Part of this article, I’ll forage down the path to play detective one more time.

NEXT POST: Tying it all together…..

You can read more about Sue’s journey with gut health and creating mental health and her path to learning to live well at the website for her book Lunacy Lost here. 

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As always – if you are taking psychotropic drugs NEVER EVER just “go off them”. To do so can be life threatening. For more information and resources on how to safely reduce or withdraw from Psychotropic drugs please visit the resources page here and view the powerpoint presentation here. 

It is assumed that anyone reading this blog is capable of taking in information, assessing it and asserting their own will to choose to take action or not. I am not a health care professional and I assume no responsibility for the actions taken by others. The information provided on this web site is for informational purposes only.