Many studies demonstrate a link between gluten intolerance and Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that damages the thyroid gland, causing low thyroid instinct. This is because gluten has a similar molecular structure to thyroid tissue — gluten intolerance triggers the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. Gluten is the problematic protein found in wheat and wheat-like grains, such as spelt, kamut, rye, barley, triticale, and oats.
The Hyperactive Immune System
The immune system protects the body from foreign invaders, which may be a food that triggers an immune response. If you eat that food every day this keeps your immune system constantly engaged in battle. Eventually it becomes hyper zealous and too sensitive, thus raising the risk of developing food intolerances and autoimmunity.
Some cases of gluten intolerance are celiac disease, a disease in which gluten causes an autoimmune attack in the gut, the skin, or the nervous system. Gluten sensitivity is more common than celiac disease, however, people with Hashimoto’s low thyroid have higher incidences of both.
How to Diagnose Gluten Intolerance
If you learned you have hypothyroidism, first make sure you should screen for Hashimoto’s by testing for TPO and TGB antibodies. Hashimoto’s causes most cases of low thyroid function.
It’s also important to screen for gluten sensitivity or celiac disease since both are more common in those with Hashimoto’s. Additionally, people with gluten intolerance or have celiac disease should rule out Hashimoto’s through testing.
Living Without Gluten
To best protect your immune system, it’s important to fully give up gluten if you have Hashimoto’s and gluten sensitivity. Taking little bites or cheating occasionally trigger an immune response that leads to destruction of thyroid tissue. Also, avoid foods contaminated by gluten, such as in questionable kitchens, restaurants, or packaged or prepared foods.
You can test for gluten intolerance through Cyrex Labs. However, sometimes the immune system is so exhausted that it makes too few antibodies to cause a positive test, even though you have gluten sensitivity. A total immunoglobulin test will tell you whether this is the case.
However, because there is a proven link between gluten intolerance and Hashimoto’s low thyroid, you may feel better simply by removing gluten from your diet regardless of whether you test.
You may find your health improves removing other foods as well, such as dairy, eggs, or other grains. Follow the autoimmune paleo diet for about a month and then reintroduce restricted foods one at a time every 72 hours to see which foods trigger an ommune reaction.
Many people are able to drive their low thyroid symptoms into remission by eating a diet that eliminates gluten and other trigger foods. Although they can’t be cured, autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s often can be successfully managed through diet and lifestyle approaches.
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