Could a Lack of Bread be Affecting Your Brain?

In Australia, wheat is easily the most common grain in our diet. Wheat (as well as rye, spelt, and barley) contains a group of proteins called gluten. Unfortunately, gluten Intolerance is a common condition, with 14% of respondents in one survey reporting a sensitivity to wheat. Some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance include

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation, diarrhoea or smelly faeces
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog

Many people with digestive issues will try avoiding gluten, and will often feel much better as a result. However, could this be causing them other problems instead?

Iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies, and the World health Organisation has said that Australia’s population has higher levels of iodine deficiency than normal. To combat this, in 2009 it became compulsory for iodine to be added to bread in Australia.

Iodine is very important for proper thyroid function, Your thyroid controls the rate of activity of the cells of your body, so if it is underactive, everything slows down, including your energy and metabolism. Hormones produced by the thyroid are important for brain function and development, growth and healing. So if your iodine levels are low, you can develop

  • Increased weight
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Low fertility
  • Poor memory or concentration
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol levels

Iodine deficiency can seriously affect children, especially at the foetal, newborn or infant stages, as their brains need thyroid hormone for proper development. A lack of iodine may cause a miscarriage or premature birth, and children with low iodine are also more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A world-renowned endocrinologist and expert in the field, Professor Creswell Eastman said that "Iodine deficiency has re-emerged in Australia in the last 10 years and it is now a significant public health problem. We know that 50 per cent of Australian women are iodine deficient so they are putting their pregnancy and foetus at great risk.”

Prof Eastman said mums with the worst cases of iodine deficiency could knock 15 points off their child's IQ.

Unlike nutrients such as iron, calcium or vitamins, iodine does not occur naturally in specific foods. Instead, it is the level of iodine in the soil determines the level of iodine in the food, and so iodine deficiency occurs when the amount in the soil is low.

If you are trying to avoid gluten you may have a low iodine intake (especially if you avoid iodised salt as well). Please note that we are not advocating that if you are sensitive to gluten you should be eating bread! However, with any restrictive diet it is important to ensure you are getting enough of the right nutrients. If you would like to check if a lack of iodine or any other nutrient is affecting your health, you may like to book in a session with one of our naturopaths. Or even better, book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment, to find out what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out.

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