Gluten and Hypothyroidism – What’s the link?

October 7, 2020
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First of all, what is gluten?

We hear all about gluten these days but do you know what gluten actually is?

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. There was a point in time where gluten would only be found in these foods but today, gluten can be found in almost anything. This is because of two reasons:

  1. Food is significantly more processed today than ever before allowing for more cross-contamination of gluten into other technically gluten-free foods like corn, oats, and rice.
  2. Gluten is also used to make chemical additives in processed foods to preserve the lifespan of the food.

Research has linked gluten intolerance to at least 55 diseases thus far and most of these conditions are autoimmune.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where one has an underactive thyroid. About 12% of people in the states have Hypothyroidism and about 90% of those with hypothyroidism have the autoimmune Hashimotos type.

This is an autoimmune condition where your own thyroid attacks your own thyroid leading to an underactive thyroid.

Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism include:

  • Weight gain/inability to lose weight
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Dry skin
  • Hoarseness
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory
  • Muscle achiness, tenderness, or stiffness

Things that can generally lead to Hashimoto’s or exacerbate it include:

  • Digestive issues (Leaky gut, IBS, IBD, SIBO, etc)
  • Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity
  • Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency
  • Iron deficiency/anemia
  • Blood sugar imbalances (Diabetes, eating disorders
  • Chronic stress
  • Chronic infections (EBV or Lyme, parasites, fungi, etc)
  • Chronic antibiotic use (as a child or adult)
  • Chronic steroid use (as a child or adult)

So what’s the link between gluten and Hashimoto’s?

Gluten takes part in something called molecular mimicry. This is where the gluten protein mimics your own thyroid and other proteins tricking the thyroid receptors to take the gluten instead of the thyroid hormone created by your thyroid.

This causes an immune reaction causing your immune system to fight itself because of the deceitful gluten. This leads to a number of different symptoms (as mentioned above) significantly decreasing quality of life and causing long-term irreversible damage to your thyroid. 

Those with Hypothyroidism that continue eating gluten tend to need increases in their thyroid medications much more frequently than those who avoid gluten.

In conclusion, if you have Hypothyroidism, have a family history of it, or believe you may have it based on the symptoms I mentioned above, it may be beneficial to remove gluten from your diet. As someone who personally dealt with Hashimoto’s her entire life, I can tell you that I am so grateful I learned this information and removed gluten from my diet to help reverse most of my symptoms.

If you have Hypothyroidism, have a family history of it, or believe you may have it and would like additional support, schedule your complimentary call today so we can chat and see if I can support you in reversing your symptoms as I was able to do myself!

*This post is not meant to serve as medical advice and the removal of gluten is not meant to substitute any medications. Please speak to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your own personal health.

References:

Losurdo G, Principi M, Iannone A, Amoruso A, Ierardi E, Di Leo A, Barone M. Extra-intestinal manifestations of non-celiac gluten sensitivity: An expanding paradigm. World J Gastroenterol. 2018 Apr 14;24(14):1521-1530. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i14.1521. PMID: 29662290; PMCID: PMC5897856.

Rojas, M., Restrepo-Jiménez, P., Monsalve, D. M., Pacheco, Y., Acosta-Ampudia, Y., Ramírez-Santana, C., . . . Anaya, J. (2018). Molecular mimicry and autoimmunity. Journal of Autoimmunity, 95, 100-123. doi:10.1016/j.jaut.2018.10.012

Virili C, Bassotti G, Santaguida MG, Iuorio R, Del Duca SC, Mercuri V, Picarelli A, Gargiulo P, Gargano L, Centanni M. Atypical celiac disease as cause of increased need for thyroxine: a systematic study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012 Mar;97(3):E419-22. doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-1851. Epub 2012 Jan 11. PMID: 22238404.

written by:

  • I aspire to see a world where great health is not only achievable but the norm. For most of my life, I dealt with constipation, abdominal pain, asthma, allergies, joint pain, back pain, irregular menstrual cycles, chronic nasal congestion, dry skin, migraines, fatigue, inability to focus, and memory issues. I thought all of these things were just the reality I had to live with until I discovered Naturopathic medicine.

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