Food Allergies and Brain Health

food allerfyWhen most people think of food allergies, they think of skin rashes, itchy eyes, sneezing or unhappy tummies.  However, research suggests that allergies may also have other more widespread effects that perhaps aren’t as obvious.

Did you know that what you are eatingcouldbe affectingyour mental health and brain function?   They may contribute to anxiety, depression, irritability and an inability to concentrate1.  In those with diagnosed mental health disorders, they may also exacerbate panic attacks, depression, compulsive behaviour and hallucinations1.

Do you suffer from allergies? Are there certain foods that don’t seem to agree with you? Or perhaps you just want to know how you can eat healthier?  If so, please call to arrange an appointment on (08) 6500 3277 now.

“Brain allergy” or “ecological mental illness” is a term used to describe any abnormal reaction to a food or chemical intolerance that causes psychological, emotional or neurological symptoms2.  Although use of the term is still somewhat controversial,more and more physicians are beginning to support the theory that certain food allergies may impact on a patient’s brain health3.  In one 2008 study, putting children with ADD on restricted diets improved their symptoms by more than 50% in over 73% of the children1.  This is approximately the same effectiveness as prescribing ADD medication, only without the side effects!In another study, two groups of schizophrenic patients were put on two different diets.  Those given the gluten free diet improved more quickly and were discharged from hospital faster1.  It has also been observed that schizophrenia is less common in cultures that don’t eat cereals such as wheat,rye or barley1.

What the exact link is between psychological conditions and certain foods remains a mystery, however scientists speculate that it has something to do with increased food allergies amongst these patients4.  It is hypothesised that these allergies trigger inflammatory cascades, which can affect multiple parts of the body, causing local chemical irritation, arthritis and even Alzheimer’s1.  A 2008 study found that in patients with coeliac disease who continued to eat gluten, 73% experienced a reduction in blood flow to parts of the brain; compared with 7% of coeliacs who cut gluten out of their diet1.  A link between brain health and nutrition in populations with food intolerances is clearly evident.

Ironically, the foods we crave the most are actually the foods that we are most likely to be allergic to.  Gluten such as breads, pastas and cakes; chocolate and milk are all regular contenders for food allergies.  These foods are highly addictive not only because they taste good, but because many of these food groups contain peptides that release addictive chemicals upon digestion2.  Ironically, for patients with allergiesto these food groups, eating them can actually provide short-term symptom relief1.However, these seemingly positive effects are only very short-term, and continuing to eat these foods compounds the problem long-term! It is only when we avoid these foods for days or weeks and then try eating them again that we truly notice the effects they may have on our body and our brain.

Nutrition is an integral part of health that has extremely far-reaching effects throughout the body.  If you want to know more about how you can maximise your nutritional potential, please call to arrange an appointment on (08) 6500 3277 now.


  1. Holford P. Brain allergies: how sensitivities to food and other substances can effect the mind  [07/05/16]. Available from:
  2. Cornish T. Mental illness or allergy? 2011 [07/05/16]. Available from:
  3. Archives I. Nutrition Central 1985 [07/05/16]. Available from:
  4. Whitford T. The underlying mechanisms of brain allergies. Jourlan of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2000;15(1).


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