A question I am often asked is “Do I need to stop eating gluten” if I have a Thyroid disorder. In this video Dr. Hagmeyer explains everything you need to know about Gluten and thyroid problems.
Gluten sensitivity linked with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism
This is yet another study that demonstrates the clinical association between gluten sensitivity and Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. It is very rare to find a person with Hashimoto’s who does not have some degree of gluten sensitivity or full-blown celiac disease. Gluten over stimulates the immune system. Gluten sensitivity is basically defined as any immune response to gluten.
Celiac disease is defined generally as an autoimmune response to intestinal tissues upon gluten exposure, as well as overall activation of the immune system Various labs classify celiac disease using different criteria, including genetic testing and intestinal biopsy.
Either way, such an immune response is never good for a person with Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune disease. The immune system is already imbalanced and overactive during an active autoimmune condition. A consistent immune reaction to a regular food in the diet only makes the immune system more volatile, further exacerbating the autoimmune condition.
This overall activation of the immune system creates inflammation and explains why symptoms of gluten sensitivity vary. For some the inflammation may target the joints, creating pain and swelling. For others skin rashes and skin disorders ensue. Many others suffer inflammation in the brain, resulting in brain fog, mood and anxiety disorders, or memory loss.
The list of inflammation-induced symptoms brought on by a gluten sensitivity goes on and depends upon the person’s genetic makeup. Needless to say such systemic inflammation also flares up an autoimmune conditio. Experience shows a gluten-free diet is a must.
In my experience, most Hashimoto’s patients fall somewhere between gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Nevertheless, almost all patients with Hashimoto’s improve on a strict gluten-free diet, even if they do not fit the established criteria of celiac disease. By strict I mean you are 100 percent gluten-free. Because the immune reaction to gluten has been shown to last up to six months after exposure, cheat days or occasionally eating gluten will derail the therapeutic benefits of a gluten-free diet.
Practitioners wrong when they say gluten OK
I have seen many patients over the years with Hashimoto’s whose health care practitioners have told them they can eat gluten because they had a normal gluten antibody test (meaning there is no sensitivity) or they did not have the gene for gluten sensitivity. This a horrible mistake and a complete disconnect with the realities of what a serious immune trigger gluten is for most people with Hashimoto’s, unassociated with celiac disease.
Problem lies with incomplete gluten testing
I am now convinced that part of the problem with negative gluten antibody tests is improper testing. The general gluten antibody test conducted by most labs today is only testing a small portion of the gluten protein, alpha-gliadin.
In reality, an individual can have an immune response to various parts of the gluten protein, including omega-gliadin, gamma-gliadin, wheat germ agglutinin, and deamidated gliadin.
In my practice the only valid and complete gluten assessment is a panel called the Wheat/Gluten Proteome Sensitivity and Autoimmunity test by Cyrex Laboratory in Phoenix, Arizona. The panel also provides testing for transglutaminase antibodies, the marker for autoimmunity against intestinal tissue. This marker strongly suggests celiac disease or at least an autoimmune reaction in the small intestine in response to gluten