Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism? You May Want to Check for Food Sensitivities

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Thyroid Conditions Are Fairly Common

About 20 million Americans are currently suffering from a form of thyroid disease. And roughly 60% don’t know it. Thyroid disorders are particularly common in women with one in eight females going on to develop a thyroid condition within her lifespan, and women are five to eight times more likely to have thyroid issues than men.

Your Thyroid Can Be Under or Over Performing

A malfunctioning thyroid can lead to either over or under-production of thyroid hormones. These hormones — called T3 and T4 — affect every organ system in your body.

Every single cell in your body depends on thyroid hormones to regulate their metabolic activity, which means your metabolic life.  Thyroid hormones are needed for proper development and differentiation of cells, and regulate protein, fat, and carbohydrate metabolism,

A Holistic Approach

Whether the issue is hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Grave’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the symptoms of thyroid issues can vary in severity from moderate to life-changing. That’s why naturopathic practitioners take a holistic approach to tackle thyroid issues from all angles – and that includes nutrition.

 

The Gluten Intolerance Link

Recent research links food sensitivities and auto-immune issues, meaning if an auto-immune condition is the underlying cause of your thyroid disorder, your relationship with food sensitivities may be an exacerbating factor. Although gluten is oftentimes associated with thyroid auto-immunity, not everyone has this particular reaction, so a food sensitivity blood test, either via normal blood draw or finger prick test, is necessary.   However, it’s common that gluten does show up as a problem; in fact, it happens so often that some studies suggest gluten intolerance screening for anyone with auto-immune thyroid issues.  Studies removing gluten from auto-immune thyroid patients saw their antibodies decrease and their vitamin D3 levels increase, which are very beneficial to patients.

Auto-Immune Thyroid Issues

If you are choosing to remove gluten on your own or if gluten was positive on a food sensitivity test it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first be tested for Celiac disease.  NEVER stop gluten or recommend anyone else stop gluten without first testing for Celiac.  Celiac disease is a medical condition whereby eating gluten causes the immune system to attack the small intestinal lining, causing terrible atrophy.  Many illnesses are associated with Celiac disease, including auto-immune thyroid and Type One Diabetes.

Avoiding gluten if you have Celiac disease is much more intense than avoiding gluten without Celiac disease and only having a food sensitivity reaction.  So, it’s vital to know if Celiac disease is occurring.

If gluten is not the food your body reacts to, and instead it’s dairy, or soy or egg, etc, then simply avoiding that food is okay.  None of them cause Celiac disease.

 

How Does Food Sensitivities Lead to Autoimmunity?

When you ignore food sensitivities, your gut often pays the price in inflammation. Over time, food sensitivities can degrade the delicate lining of your small intestine, leading to permeability or “leaky gut”. Gut toxins can get through and damage the systemic body cells and the immune system, reacting to the food, can get confused and then attack other body cells, like thyroid cells.  That causes auto-immunity, the body’s white blood cells attacking and damaging by mistake the body’s own cells.

 

A Gluten Intolerance Can Be Hidden

Many people misinterpret food sensitivities. It can cause digestive problems, but it can affect far more than just the digestive system. Antibodies triggered by food reactions travel throughout the whole body: the joints, skin, respiratory tract and brain can all be affected. In fact, for some people affected, no digestive symptoms are seen at all. With a wide variety of possible symptoms, gluten sensitivity may take a lot of effort to uncover.

Casein Sensitivity May Also be an Issue

Lactose intolerance is much more common than gluten intolerance. However, the two often overlap. In one study in Italy, roughly 25% of people with lactose intolerance also had celiac disease, a digestive condition that is linked to gluten-related autoimmunity.

This means that for many people, going gluten-free won’t be enough to get to the root of their auto-immune symptoms. If an intolerance to casein (the main protein in dairy) may be at play, patients are often advised to adopt both a dairy-free and gluten-free diet during the elimination phase, with dairy being added back separately to assess casein sensitivity.

 

How We Test for Food Sensitivities

Testing for Antibodies in the Blood

Running a food sensitivity panel is one way to start learning what is going on. This is the most common test done at AIMS clinic due to it being so helpful in finding the reasons why people are ill from so many conditions, including auto-immune thyroid conditions.    We can test 96 or 184 foods.

Creating a Benchmark

We run a food sensitivity panel and after you begin an elimination diet so that you have a benchmark to work with. You’ll remove all foods for 1-2 months and then can add them in one at a time to see which one(s) you really react to and need to avoid permanently.   This is an established methodology that has worked for literally thousands of patients at AIMS.

The health of your thyroid affects every cell in your body. If you suspect an autoimmune condition may be affecting how well you feel, please give us a call. As naturopathic physicians, we have access to a wide array of investigative tools and lab tests to help you uncover what’s really going on – and come up with a tailored plan to help you feel like yourself again.

 

Resources:

Fatourechi V. Subclinical hypothyroidism: an update for primary care physicians. Mayo Clinic proceedings. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2664572/. Published 2009.

General Information/Press Room. Published 2014. American Thyroid Association. https://www.thyroid.org/media-main/press-room/

Ojetti V; Nucera G;Migneco A; Gabrielli M; Lauritano C; Danese S; Zocco MA; Nista EC;Cammarota G;De Lorenzo A;Gasbarrini G;Gasbarrini A; High prevalence of celiac disease in patients with lactose intolerance. Digestion. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15775678/. Published 2005.

Shahid MA. Physiology, Thyroid Hormone. StatPearls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK500006/. Published May 18, 2020.

 

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