The most common neurological presentation of a gluten sensitivity is gluten ataxia. What is it?
In gluten ataxia, gluten sensitivity triggers the immune system to attack the cerebellum. This can lead to difficulty with balance, coordination, and speech, as well as other neurological symptoms, such as anxiety and hypersensitivity.
Your cerebellum, or “little brain,” is comprised of two lobes at the back of your head. While it’s best known for its role in balance and coordination, it also plays a large role in gating information that comes into the brain.
This means it releases information in manageable amounts so the brain does not become overwhelmed. When the cerebellum starts to degenerate and malfunction from gluten ataxia, the results can be worsened balance, anxiety, insomnia, and hypersensitivity.
Gluten cross-reactivity explains how gluten ataxia works. The immune system mistakes amino acid sequences in gluten for similar sequences in cerebellar tissue. In some gluten-sensitive people, this means that every time they eat gluten, the immune system attacks both the gluten and cerebellum.
To evaluate your cerebellum, close your eyes and stand with your feet together. If there is an excessive sway in one direction, this may be indicative of deficiency on that side. Other tests include touching nose to finger or walking heel-to-toe. It’s important to have a solid surface nearby in case you lose your balance.
Strengthen your cerebellar health, improve cognitive function, improve balance, and reduce anxiety with an anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet combined with balance exercises. You can use a balance board, yoga, tai chi, the sobriety test (please google it), or other exercises that gently and safely challenge your balance skills.
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About Josh Redd
Josh Redd, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, is a chiropractic physician and author of the Amazon bestselling book “The Truth About Low Thyroid.” Redd owns seven functional medicine clinics in the western U.S. and sees patients from across the country and around the world who are suffering from challenging autoimmune, endocrine and neurological disorders.
He studied immunology, virology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins where he is a MaPHB candidate. He also teaches thousands of health care practitioners about functional medicine and immunology, thyroid health, neurology, lab testing and more.
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