GLUTEN & NEUROPATHY: The Hidden Connection

Posted by John Coppola on 04 Aug, 18

Have you ever wondered why, suddenly you are experiencing numbness, tingling or pins and needles sensation in you feet? Seemingly, for no reason. Maybe at first it would come and go, so you thought you just had your foot in the wrong position and it fell asleep; then with time the symptoms didn’t go matter what you did. Chances are you have a condition called Peripheral Neuropathy, but how did you get it? There’s growing evidence that Peripheral Neuropathy is linked with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Gluten Sensitivity Linked With Nerve Damage

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that occurs from damaged nerves in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Common symptoms experienced as a result of this are numbness, tingling, burning, and pain. Neuropathy has a number of different causes, such as, diabetes, chemotherapy, statin medications, disc herniation and traumas, toxic metal exposure, chronic alcohol consumption and vitamin deficiencies. Now, however, scientists have linked peripheral nerve damage to gluten sensitivity and celiac disease.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, kamut and barley. "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.

Gluten Sensitivity or intolerance is a condition where after a person ingests gluten they suffer from a reaction, which can include gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and even joint pain and fatigue.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder triggered by even the tiniest bit of gluten, which causes damage to the smallintestine and interferes with nutrient absorption. The inability to absorb nutrients can stunt growth in children, weaken bones and damage peripheral nerves resulting in neuropathy.

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Neurology has found celiac disease patients along with gluten sensitive patients are at an increased risk for nerve damage.

Peripheral Neuropathy Key Symptom of Celiac, Gluten Sensitivity

Celiac disease affects one out of every 100 people throughout the world. In America. If it goes untreated, it can result in disorders like type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility, miscarriage, epilepsy, migraines, short stature, intestinal cancers, and now peripheral nerve damage.

New research has revealed that peripheral neuropathy actually is one of the most common non- digestive symptoms of celiac disease, and gluten sensitivities, according to the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. In fact, it's possible to have no noticeable gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease, but instead to have mainly peripheral neuropathy and other neurological symptoms.

Gluten Sensitivity Even More Problematic for Nerve Damage

Neurological symptoms such as peripheral neuropathy, migraine and brain fog are even more common in people with gluten sensitivity, according to Harvard Medical School's Dr. Alessio Fasano, one of the lead researchers in the field of gluten sensitivity. Dr. Ford, a pediatrician in Christchurch, New Zealand and author of The Gluten Syndrome, says he believes the percentage of people who are gluten-sensitive actually could be much higher — potentially up to 50%.

"When we did the math, we came up with the number of about one in two are gluten-sensitive," he says.

4 Reasons Gluten Intolerance is on the Rise

Gluten sensitivity and intolerance has been rapidly on the rise over the last 50 years. Scientists from around the world wanted to know why...and here’s what their research revealed.

1. GMO’s: Wheat grain crops have been genetically modified to yield larger crops, crops resistant to drought and a grain that bakes easily.

2. Hybridization: Modern day Wheat has higher proportions of gluten due to hybridization or the crossing of 2 different wheat plants to create a 3 rd type of wheat..

3. Overuse of Antibiotics: Dysbiosis of the gut- or imbalance of good bacteria to bad bacteria is also on the rise due to the high usage of antibiotics and the consumption of processed foods Feeding infants grains before they are able to digest them may raise the risk of dysbiosis.

4. Vitamin And Mineral Deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies affect a vast array of the population in the U.S. due to the standard American diet.

Hidden Sources of Gluten

In order to combat gluten intolerance, it’s not enough to simply avoid grains. You must also pay attention to the quality of all the other foods you eat.

Unfortunately, food manufacturers are not required by law to identify all possible sources of gluten on their product labels, so reading the label may not be enough.

Gluten may still be hiding in processed foods like ready-made soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and various low- and no-fat products, just to name a few, under labels such as:

  • Malts
  • Starches
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)
  • Texturized vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Natural flavoring has a long list of label ingredients that typically contain hidden gluten.

Signs You May Be Intolerant to Gluten

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with gluten intolerance:

  • More frequent exhaustion and fatigue
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as cramps, diarrhea, constipation and gas
  • Migraines
  • Body aches in the bones, muscles and connective tissues
  • Numbness, tingling, pins and needles in the feet or hands
  • Dizziness, loss of balance

However, the most effective way to find out whether you are allergic to gluten is to visit your doctor for a proper allergy test.

You Can Have Your Bread And Eat It Too!

Changing your diet to remove gluten can take a little bit of work, initially, but it doesn’t mean that you have to live without bread, ever again. Although, we highly recommend limiting your grain consumption-even for gluten-free grains, there are plenty of gluten-free recipes available.

You can visit our website

To find some delicious gluten free recipes, here are some great gluten free cookbooks you need to check out. We’ve tried their recipes and have loved them.

  • The How Can It Be Gluten Free
  • Against All Grain
  • Gluten-Free On A Shoestring
  • The Healthy Gluten-Free Life

This blog has been provided by Dr. John Coppola, D.C. and Dr. Valerie Monteiro, D.C. Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro are the founders of the San Antonio Neuropathy Center, and Precision Sport & Spine. They are the leading experts in the field of neuropathy and specifically drug free nerve repair. They are the authors of the critically acclaimed book "Defeat Neuropathy Now .... In Spite of Your Doctor. The doctors have over 25 years of clinical experience.

If you would like to reach the doctors regarding a specific health problem, you may email them at