A Very Personal Reason To Go Gluten-Free

Those of you who read here regularly, or listen to the podcast , may know that back in the late winter I was diagnosed -- at the age of 52 -- with ADHD. I in no way doubt the diagnosis; I'm a textbook case. That one bit of knowledge made a whole lot of other pieces of information fall into place -- or as I've been saying, "Suddenly my whole damn life makes sense."

I have a number of co-morbidities of ADHD -- health problems commonly associated with it -- including Seasonal Affective Disorder and Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, a sleep disorder. Food addiction and obesity are also more common in those of us with ADHD, so my past history of stealing from my parents to support a rampant sugar addiction isn't surprising.

But a while back, I learned of a comorbidity of ADHD that scares the ever-living crap out of me: Lewy Body Dementia. What is Lewy Body Dementia? It's a form of dementia that combines the fun of Alzheimer's with the thrills of Parkinson's, plus lots of vivid visual hallucinations, just for the entertainment value. Turns out LBD is a lot more common than doctors realized till recently, because it is often mis-diagnosed as either Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. No one's exactly sure what the rate in the general population is, which sucks, because that's a bit of info I could use, since I have read that AHDH puts me at triple the risk of the general population. If the overall rate is, as some say, only 0.5%, then my risk is 1.5%, not so scary. If the overall rate is 5%, as some estimate, then my risk is 15%, a whole lot more frightening.

But it occurs to me, having read Wheat Belly, that gluten sensitivity is linked to both dementia and ataxia -- the sort of coordination problems common to Parkinson's. Further, while wheat doesn't seem to be the cause of ADHD (the two front runners appear to be heredity and maternal iodine deficiency), foregoing wheat does seem to help calm the symptoms.

Knowing this, it does not seem like a big leap to the hope that avoiding wheat and gluten may, at least to some degree, reduce my risk of winding up in a locked door ward. I watched my brilliant and spirited mother die slowly of dementia. If there is any chance that avoiding gluten can prevent anything resembling that end, it is a very small price to pay.

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