By now, most of us are familiar with gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) but you may be less familiar with gluteomorphins. Gluteomorphins are a byproduct of digesting gliadin or gluten.
Gluteomorphins are “the bad guys.” They wreak havoc on our digestive system and consequently cause a variety of issues.
Why Are Gluteomorphins Problematic?
When we digest gluten or the protein gliadin, gluteomorphins are produced. These gluteomorphins attach to opioid receptors in our brains and in our kid’s brains. They activate an opioid-like response which can feel euphoric.
This euphoric response creates a positive association with gluten containing foods for your child. Essentially, it creates an addiction which is why it can be so hard to remove gluten from your child’s diet. Like other, more serious addictions, there are often withdrawal symptoms.
Gluten-containing foods are often some of the first solid foods we introduce to our children. Consequently, their addiction to that opioid response has been occurring for just as long.
How Do Gluteomorphins Affect Your Child?
Gluteomorphins can cause digestive tract problems which, in turn, can lead to a whole host of problems. Inflammation caused by gluteomorphins can lead to malabsorption of nutrients and dysbiosis or an imbalance in the gut.
If your child isn’t absorbing nutrients, things like brain function, behavior, sleep, and physical activity are all affected. Of all of the areas affected by malabsorption, the negative impact on brain function can cause the most concerns. Things like attention, impulse control, memory, sleep, and mood are all tied to healthy brain function.
What Can You Do About Gluteomorphins?
The only way to address the negative effects of gluteomorphins is to stop feeding your child gluten. It can take up to six weeks on a gluten- and casein-free diet to get the gluteomorphins (and casomorphins, as I’ll explain next week) out of the system.
In addition to obvious sources of gluten like bread and pasta, you have to be aware of hidden sources of gluten like soy sauce and adhesives (like those used on envelopes). Even a small amount of gluten, depending on the child, can cause problems.
What Are Symptoms of Gluteomorphin Withdrawal?
When we take our kids off gluten it’s normal for them to experience symptoms of withdrawal. Some common withdrawal symptoms are:
- Increase in challenging behaviors
- Extreme hunger
While it can be hard to watch your child go through this, just as you wouldn’t give a drug addict drugs during withdrawal, you shouldn’t give in and give your child gluten once you remove it from their diet. Instead, offer support and help them get through it.
I wanted to cover this topic because when you understand the “why” behind decisions like a gluten-free diet it helps to drive home the importance of the change. This understating can keep you motivated to stay the course even when things get challenging.
Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing a great job.
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