Hashimoto’s and Going Gluten Free

Madelyn R. Romero, Certified Herbalist

Common health issues so many of us face, such as fatigue and weight gain, can be indicative of a wide range of disorders. A possible explanation for these symptoms is hypothyroid, which affects as much as 10% of the female population. More common in women than in men, hypothyroid is the most frequently diagnosed thyroid disorder. Within the United States 90% of hypothyroid cases are due to Hashimoto’s, or autoimmune hypothyroid.

The tests commonly used to diagnose hypothyroid and Hashimoto’s (and the way these tests are interpreted) are not always accurate, and often lead doctors to under-diagnose this condition. Women often come in presenting hypothyroid symptoms, are tested, told everything is fine, and end up on antidepressants because the doctors cannot find anything to diagnose. When hypothyroid is diagnosed, the current medical system mainly responds with lifelong medication, or even surgery. For these reasons, it is important to research and educate ourselves. Let’s get started!

The thyroid is a gland resembling a butterfly in shape, found at the front and center of the neck. It regulates energy in the body, and is responsible for hundreds of biological functions including metabolism and fertility. The thyroid can be under-active (hypothyroid) or over-active (hyperthyroid), both of which cause a myriad of symptoms.

People experiencing hypothyroid have low energy levels and their metabolism is slower. They can experience fatigue, constipation, dry skin, brain fog and trouble concentrating, weight gain, depression, anxiety, hair loss, and even a very low heart rate. People with hyperthyroid have a relatively opposing symptom picture that can include rapid heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, insatiable appetite, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Hashimoto’s is hypothyroid due to an autoimmune reaction. It can be caused by a number of factors including nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances, and chronic inflammation. An autoimmune disease results when the body begins to produce antibodies (immune system components created to identify and help rid the body of unwelcome foreign substances) that then start to attack the body’s own tissues. In the case of Hashimoto’s, antibodies meant to target foreign substances end up targeting parts of proteins involved in thyroid function instead; these auto-antibodies hamper the thyroid’s function and can cause hypothyroid.

Gluten, a complex protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, is the most common irritant that has been linked to Hashimoto’s. It can inflame the digestive system, leading to compromised integrity of the GI mucosal lining. This allows bits of proteins to leak out of the GI, causing inflammation and provoking the immune response that eventually creates auto-antibodies. For this reason, practitioners familiar with thyroid disorders recommend a full gluten elimination as a first step in Hashimoto’s protocols. This enables the body to recover from constant inflammation brought on by gluten consumption, and allows the immune system to stop creating antibodies that have become damaging to the body.

While incredibly important, a gluten elimination can appear daunting – many of our staples are wheat-based, and hidden sources can be difficult to avoid. However, there are alternatives that can help during the transition to a healthy, supportive diet for those living with Hashimoto’s. Join me February 19th to learn more about thyroid function, Hashimoto’s, the importance of self-care, and how to eat right and support your body when dealing with autoimmune hypothyroid.

Sources

Brogan, Kelly. “Thyroid Dysfunction and Treatment | Blog | Kelly Brogan MD.” Kelly Brogan MD. N.p., 29 Mar. 2016. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Kharrazian, Datis. (2014, July 1). Gluten Thyroid Issues with Datis Kharrazian. Podcast. Podcast retrieved from http://www.glutenfreeschool.com/2014/07/01/gluten-thyroid-issues/

Romm, Aviva. “10 Things You Need to Know About Your Thyroid” Aviva Romm. 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.

Romm, Aviva, “The Gut-Thyroid Connection: 4 Steps for Breaking the Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Cycle.” Aviva Romm. 02 June 2015. Web. 29 Sept. 2016.