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Addicted to Bread?

My bread obsession:

Making the transition to be gluten-free wasn't easy for me. Bread was my weakness. For the first 2 or 3 days I could not stop thinking about BREAD.

Bread.. The warm, fluffy goodness. The toasted buttery outter layer. The smell fresh out of the oven.

It was bad. REALLY BAD. I mean, who lays in bed at night dreaming of bread? Me.

Addicted to Bread. Is it real?

Absolutely! Turns out gluten can stimulate opioid receptors. 1 Plainly, eating bread stimulated my opioid receptors & made me feel good. (see the diagram to the left) I got addicted to feeling good while I was eating bread. Without bread in my life, I initially felt crummy. For quite a few people, this is common.

What do opioid receptors do?

Opioid receptors inhibit pain. When you don't feel pain, you often feel good! That is why pain killers target the opioid receptors. "Opioid receptors have been targeted for the treatment of pain and related disorders for thousands of years, and remain the most widely used analgesics in the clinic." 2

But if bread makes me feel good, then it must be good for me, right?

If only that were the case! Veggie haters everywhere would rejoice!

The problem with eating gluten (bread) is that it is a large molecule that can go undigested in the gut. Undigested proteins can accumulate in the gut & cause a whole host of unpleasant symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, constipation, diarrhea, & other leaky gut sumptoms.

But the problem is...

Problems in the gut do not stay in the gut.

The human body is amazing marvel of communication. The brain is constantly communicating with all the organs via the central nervous system. Nerves travel from the brain to every organ in the body. For instance, the brain and the gut communicate via the vagus nerve.

From the diagram to the right, you can see most of the vagus nerve signalling is going from the gut TO the brain, not the other way around. Now do you see why hunger can control us?

"Gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and nervous system, both central (CNS) and enteric (ENS), are involved in two-way extrinsic communication by parasympathetic and sympathetic nerves, each comprising efferents fibers such as cholinergic and noradrenergic, respectively, and afferent sensory fibers required for gut-brain signaling." 3

Happiness... from the Gut?

We've all had that "gut feeling" about something. But why? "The enteric nervous system (gut) uses more than 30 neurotransmitters, just like the brain, and in fact 95% of the body's serotonin is found in the bowels." 4 So if 95% of our serotonin comes from our gut & we have an unhealthy gut... Do you think it could be making us feel sad?

Perhaps the old proverb should read, "Happy gut, happy life!"

Eating good foods & supplementing with good probiotics can have AMAZING consequences in our bodies! "There is now strong evidence from animal studies that gut microorganism can activate the vagus nerve and that such activation plays a critical role in mediating effects on the brain and behaviour." 5 Holy cow! The microorganisms in our gut can mediate how we think & feel? Absolutely.

Gut Health & Brain Gevelopment?

So what if a child isn't getting the right nutrition? What if he/she eats the typical American diet, full of processed foods and meals on the go? Constantly craving sugary drinks and bread. Do you think their gut health is optimal? How will that affect their development?

What if gluten is constantly lighting up those opioid receptors? "In an extensive and elegant series of studies, Zagon and McLaughlin confirmed that opioids and their receptors interact during brain development, and that opioid systems play an integral role in cellular proliferation, migration and differentiation within the developing central nervous system." 6

Excess Gluten Intake in Kids... Autism?

Ever seen an autistic child throw a temper tantrum for bread? It's the gluten-opioid connection. Research the autism & gluten connection. Some autistic children have seen a dramatic decrease in autistic symptoms on a gluten-free diet.

"...there are (in addition to the clear consequences of opioid abuse) clinical and experimental data suggesting that aberrant patterns of neural development and behaviour, including autism, may develop in association with exposure of the brain to opioid excess." 6

Okay, so now what?

You can schedule a consultation to see how gut symptoms could be controlling your life & see what we can do help you regain control of your health.

We will see if gluten testing or gluten-cross reactivity testing is right for you. Based off your symptom survey, consultation, & testing we will explore what diet & lifestyle changes could make a huge impact in your life.

Give us a call today at (817) 431-9911 or email us.


Dr. Rebekah Bruner is passionate about healthy living and preventative healthcare learning. She enjoys speaking and writing about empowering people to become their own health advocate.

Dr. Bruner's post-doctorate training is in functional medicine and neurology. She has received additional certifications in Functional Blood Chemistry, Thyroid, Brain Chemistry, Leaky Gut, & Autoimmunity.

Dr. Bruner's Credentials:

Doctorate of Chiropractic, Parker University

Bachelor of Science in Biology, Centenary College of Louisiana

Bachelor of Science in Health & Wellness, Parker University

Bachelor of Science in Anatomy, Parker University



1."Opioid peptides derived from wheat gluten: Their isolation and characterization" Shin-ichi Fukudome, Masaaki Yoshikawa. FEBS Letters. Volume 296, Issue 1, 13 January 1992, Pages 107–111

2. "Molecular Mechanisms of Opioid Receptor-Dependent Signaling and Behavior." Ream Al-Hasani, Ph.D, Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D. Anesthesiology. 2011 Dec; 115(6): 1363–1381.

3. "BRAIN-GUT AXIS AND ITS ROLE IN THE CONTROL OF FOOD INTAKE." S.J. KONTUREK, J.W. KONTUREK, T. PAWLIK, T. BRZOZOWKI. 2004. Department of Physiology, Jagiellonian University Medical College, Cracow, Poland.

4. "Think Twice: How the Gut's "Second Brain" Influences Mood and Well-Being." Adam Hadhazy. Scientific American. 2010.

5. "Vagal pathways for microbiome-brain-gut axis communication." Forsythe P, Bienenstock J, Kunze WA. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:115-33. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_5.

6. "The concept of entero-colonic encephalopathy, autism and opioid receptor ligands." A. J. Wakefield, J. M. Puleston, S. M. Montgomery, A. Anthony, J. J. O'Leary, S. H. Murch. Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. Volume 16, Issue 4, pages 663–674, April 2002

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