So... my mother had a constellation of symptoms that eventually killed her. One of the worst things, for her, was the constant brain fog that clouded her focus (she was a nursing practitioner and had finished law school... her brain meant a LOT to her).
When she was towards the end of her life, I asked her physician if she could possibly have Multiple System Atrophy. He hemmed and hawed at me, and since there is no treatment or cure, I didn't pursue it. But it's always been bothering me that we never really knew what happened to her.
In the last year, I have been having these attacks of brain fog, as well as the psoriasis (it's under control with the light therapy supplemented by occasional topical steroid use, but it's definitely still there). I hadn't connected the fog and skin/joint issues until I found out about gluten intolerance, and so I've been experimenting with it. When I eat gluten-free, I definitely have fewer problems with the brain fog and joint pain. And while I was told that brain fog was a menopausal symptom... it turns out that ataxia is the most common sign of gluten intolerance. Joint pain is the second-most common.
I started to wonder... is there a possibility that the brain fog that plagued my mother in the years leading up to her decline and death was from gluten intolerance? One study says there is evidence to "suggest a possible role for gluten sensitivity in the pathogenesis of some cases of MSA." There are more studies that suggest a similar finding.
Turns out undiagnosed celiac problems can also cause earlier menopause and miscarriages. And quite a number of people start having more problems with gluten when they hit menopause.
I'm starting to think that going gluten-free is possibly a really, REALLY good idea for me.