Gluten-free diets have become a bit of a fad lately, but did you know there may be a connection between hypothyroidism (especially Hashimoto’s disease) and gluten sensitivity or intolerance? Many patients with autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s often have other autoimmune conditions like celiac disease (CD) or other gluten sensitivities, including leaky gut syndrome.
Could you benefit from a gluten-free diet? Let’s take a look at the evidence.
In one study, adults with celiac disease were three times as likely to have hypothyroidism as people without CD. In people with both hypothyroidism and celiac disease, strict adherence to a gluten-free diet reversed subclinical hypothyroidism. It follows that some percentage of people with Hashimoto’s and other forms of hypothyroidism may also have celiac disease and will benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Another study showed that 2-5% of people with autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s also had celiac disease. Scientists believe that a gluten-free diet can reduce the complications of their thyroid disease and improve the quality and, perhaps, length of life in patients with both Hashimoto’s and CD.
Even if you don’t have celiac disease, you may be suffering from leaky gut syndrome, which is where some molecules pass through the walls of your intestines and into your abdominal cavity, where your immune system attacks the molecules.
Doctors don’t know much about leaky gut syndrome yet. It is not uncommon in patients with CD or Crohn’s disease, but its prevalence among other people is not yet known.
Diet does seem to play a large part in leaky gut syndrome, so it may be worth talking to a nutritionist to discuss whether a gluten-free diet may benefit you or if another type of diet would be better.
Some studies show that gluten contributes to chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s. Gluten may increase gut permeability and contribute to leaky gut syndrome, which stimulates an immune response by leaking particles into the abdomen which are attacked by your immune system.
The term gluten refers to proteins found in grains like rye, barley, and wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat, and einkorn). Some people, especially those with an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s, are sensitive to gluten and benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Gluten is commonly found in foods like:
Malt (malted barley flour, malted milk and milkshakes, malt extract, malt syrup, malt flavoring, malt vinegar)
Would you benefit from a gluten free diet?
Not everybody with Hashimoto’s or another form of hypothyroidism is sensitive to gluten, and unless you test positive for celiac disease, it’s difficult to know whether or not you would benefit from a gluten-free diet.
The best way to find out whether or not you’ll benefit from a gluten-free diet is to try it for at least a few weeks. It will take your body some time to get used to your new gluten-free lifestyle, so you may not see results overnight.
A gluten-free diet is unlikely to hurt you, so the only risk of trying a gluten-free diet is the frustration that comes from giving up some of your favorite foods if you’re a bread eater or if you enjoy other foods that contain gluten. A gluten-free diet also tends to help you be healthier since you need to cut out most fast food to be compliant, so being gluten-free could actually help you be healthier.
As you can see, if you have thyroid problems, you may (or may not) benefit from a strict gluten-free diet. It’s worth a try since it probably won’t hurt you.
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