Brain Fog and Celiac Disease

Brain Fog and Celiac Disease

An online survey indicates that brain fog and reduced cognitive function is real for many people with celiac disease. The most common words used by respondents to describe the symptoms were "difficulty concentrating," "forgetfulness," and "grogginess." While I do not have celiac disease I do experience these same symptoms from eating gluten so I was interested to share here what the survey discovered. 

This survey suggests that gluten-induced neurocognitive impairment (GINI) is common and may be severe in both individuals with CD and NCGS. Cognitive impairment and decline in physical functioning may be similar to that occurring in other illnesses, such as lupus. Clinical follow-up with both individuals with CD and NCGS should include assessment of GINI symptoms. Further research is warranted, including the development of a patient-reported outcome measure including neurocognitive effects of gluten exposure.


This study aimed to understand the neurocognitive symptoms associated with gluten exposure in individuals with self-reported celiac disease (CD) and nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).


While gluten-induced neurocognitive impairment (GINI; eg, “celiac fog” or “brain fog”) is commonly described by individuals with CD and NCGS, there are little data regarding the prevalence and symptoms associated with these experiences.


A 9-question online survey was accessed by 1396 individuals (1143 with CD; 253 with NCGS). Forced choice and free-response questions were asked of participants to obtain a description of neurocognitive symptoms experienced after gluten ingestion. Free-response answers were coded using a coding structure developed based on the Health-Related Quality of Life Instrument.


The majority of survey participants (89% of CD and 95% of NCGS) reported having GINI symptoms. When describing symptoms, the most common word descriptors for both groups were difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and grogginess. Timing of symptoms, including onset and symptom peak, were similar across the 2 groups. Coding of free responses found the most common references were to cognitive, physical, psychological, and overall quality of life impacts.

My take on this study:

From reading this study I realise that what I have is probably nonceliac gluten sensitivity also called NCGS. I am not sure how this is diagnosed but I have mostly eaten gluten free for 26 years now. Sometimes there is a slip up when eating out or at a friend's house and very quickly I see the effects of the gluten. This is usually the next day with extreme brain fog which manifests in not being able to concentrate or take in information. As the survy found this does affect quality of life as you cannot function as you normally would on these days as you cannot even do your normal work. 

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Gluten-induced Neurocognitive Impairment: Results of a Nationwide Study

Edwards George, Jessica B. PhD; Aideyan, Babatunde MA; Yates, Kayla BS; Voorhees, Kristin N. MA; O’Flynn, Jennifer PhD; Sweet, Kristen PhD; Avery, Kate MPH; Ehrlich, Alan MD; Bast, Alice BS; Leffler, Daniel A. MD,  MSJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology: May 28, 2021
doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001561

Brain Fog and Celiac Disease


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