Bread, pasta and other popular foods could lead to brain damage

Bread in bread basket

A new study was released on gluten

Sarra Gray

By Sarra Gray

Published: 22/08/2023

- 16:27

Updated: 19/09/2023

- 10:01

The foods were shown to lead to brain inflammation in mice during a study

Gluten could cause brain inflammation and damage in some extreme cases, according to new research.

A study conducted at the University Otago in New Zealand found the risk of gluten when given to mice.

Gluten is known to have side effects such as fatigue, bloating, digestive issues and weight changes for those who have celiac disease.

The new study showed it could also cause damage to the brain of those who consume it.

Woman eating pasta

The tests were run using mice


The research was led by Associate Professor Alex Tups, who stated: "Mice are an excellent model to study human physiology.

They have a very similar circulatory, reproductive, digestive, hormonal and nervous system.

"So, it is quite possible that the same inflammation we found in mice could happen in humans."

Gluten can be found in some of Briton's favourite foods, such as pasta, bread, cereal, pizza and pastries.

The study showed rodents who had a diet with 4.5 per cent gluten experienced inflammation in the hypothalamic region of the brain.

This test used the average amount of gluten a human will consume on a daily basis.

The study suggested such inflammation can contribute to brain damage and also weight gain.

He continued: "If gluten led to hypothalamic inflammation in humans and therefore brain damage, it can be bad in the long run, such as increase in body weight and impaired blood sugar regulation. If these effects became persistent they might exacerbate the risk of e.g. impaired memory function which is linked to disturbed blood sugar regulation."

Although this sounds troubling, Associate Professor Tup suggested the findings are unlikely to affect most people.

Pizzas on a table

Foods high in gluten could affect the brain in some cases, the study suggested


He added it may only cause damage in extreme cases and Britons do not necessarily need to cut out gluten.

He said: "We are not saying that gluten is bad for everyone. For gluten tolerant people to go entirely gluten free may have health implications that may outweigh potential benefits.

"Often people don't consume whole foods and highly processed gluten free products are often low in fibre and high in sugar.

"We are saying that future studies need to reveal whether our findings in mice are translatable to humans and whether gluten-induced astro- and microgliosis may also develop in gluten sensitive individuals."

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