Scientists have demonstrated what many patients with Hashimoto’s low thyroid have discovered: Gluten, dairy, and processed carbohydrates trigger the brain to have an addictive response. Foods that are high in processed carbs and fat are the most addictive, and the most addictive foods contain cheese. Researchers dubbed pizza the most addictive.
This is because these foods have a high-glycemic load, which means they are quickly absorbed by the body and spike blood sugar before it crashes. This causes hormonal responses in the brain that trigger cravings. It also leads to inflammation and flaring up of Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
A 2013 study using brain scans found that those who ate processed foods experienced greater hunger as well as blood sugar spikes and crashes. They also tended to overeat and opt for high-glycemic foods. On the other hand, those who ate low-glycemic eaters experienced stable blood sugar, which is important for managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid and inflammation.
What’s interesting is that brain scans showed the subjects who ate the high-glycemic foods showed more blood flow to areas of the brain areas associated with reward, pleasure, and cravings. This is why starchy foods can compel people to overeat starchy foods, perpetuating a vicious cycle.
High-glycemic foods also cause insulin and leptin resistance, which raises hunger and promote fat storage.
To stabilize blood sugar and stop carb cravings avoid processed carbs (breads, pastas, pastries, etc.) and lower carb consumption to the point that does not cause your blood sugar to spike and crash. The amount will depend on the person, but regardless it is much lower than the standard American diet.
Gluten and dairy cause opiate-like response
Gluten and dairy can be addictive for another reason — they can cause an opioid response in some people and even cause withdrawls. It is important to be aware of when you embark on a gluten- and dairy-free diet to manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Digestion of dairy protein can create an opioid called casomorphin while the gluten opioid is gluteomorphin. These opioids work on the same receptors in the brain prescription pain pills and heroin.
It’s eve worse in processed cheese and gluten products.
The worst part about opioid sensitivity is when you go off these foods cold turkey as it can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, including depression, mood swings, or gut problems.
To manage Hashimoto’s low thyroid, most people must remove gluten and dairy. When opioid responses happen, going gluten-free and dairy-free can mean a couple of weeks of misery.
If this is the case with your, plan ahead to make yourself as comfortable as possible while you weather the withdrawal symptoms. Afterwards, you will be on your way to better health and well being.
You also need to avoid high-glycemic processed foods to avoid triggering the brain’s craving mechanisms and autoimmune thyroid flares. For more advice, contact my office about how to manage autoimmune Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
How to learn if you have Hashimoto’s low thyroid
Many patients are not diagnosed with hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s until after several years and going through several doctors. It is a demoralizing journey richly illustrated in my book The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, through real-life stories from patients in my practice. Managing Hashimoto’s goes far beyond using thyroid medication as you must work to stop the immune system from attacking the thyroid. For more information on identifying and managing Hashimoto’s low thyroid, contact my office.
About Dr. Josh Redd, Chiropractic Physician — Utah, Arizona, New Mexico functional medicine
Dr. Joshua J. Redd, DC, MS, DABFM, DAAIM, author of The Truth About Low Thyroid: Stories of Hope and Healing for Those Suffering With Hashimoto’s Low Thyroid Disease, is a chiropractic physician and the founder of RedRiver Health and Wellness Center with practices in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. He sees patients from around the world who suffer from challenging thyroid disorders, Hashimoto’s disease, and other autoimmune conditions. In addition to his chiropractic degree, Dr. Redd has a BS in Health and Wellness, a BS in Anatomy, and a MS in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. He speaks across the nation, teaching physicians about functional blood chemistry, low thyroid, Hashimoto’s, and autoimmunity. You can join his Facebook page here.