Low thyroid function has received a lot of attention online since the publication of Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? by Datis Kharrazian in 2009. While many considerations should be managed with hypothyroidism, the first and one of the most important is a gluten-free diet.
About 90 percent of low thyroid function cases are caused by an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s, that destroys the thyroid gland.
Most patients are not tested for Hashimoto’s because treatment is the same regardless, which is thyroid hormone medication. Hypothyroidism also often goes undiagnosed because the immune fluctuations caused by Hashimoto’s makes TSH, the lab marker for hypothyroidism, wax and wane.
Gluten plays a role in Hashimoto’s. Many studies associate gluten sensitivity with Hashimoto’s low thyroid. If you have either gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, an immune reaction to gluten triggers a thyroid autoimmune attack in many people. Many people do not even know they have a gluten sensitivity.
Going gluten-free is the first step with Hashimoto’s
There is more than enough scientific and clinical evidence that shows the benefits of a gluten-free diet to manage your Hashimoto’s low thyroid symptoms.
Studies from several different countries show Hashimoto’s is linked to gluten sensitivity. The protein structure in the gluten protein shares an amino acid sequence resembles that of the thyroid. Therefore, when a gluten sensitive person reacts to gluten, the immune system may begin erroneously reacting to thyroid tissue too. This causes the inflammatory immune cells to attack and destroy thyroid tissue in a case of mistaken identity.
Although many people know this through personal experience, one study showed as many as 71 percent of subjects resolved their low thyroid symptoms after following a strict gluten-free diet for one year.
You may react to foods other than gluten too
Going gluten-free alone doesn’t always work and many people with Hashimoto’s also find dairy triggers flares. Dairy is the second biggest trigger food for people with Hashimoto’s low thyroid.
Most people do not realize they have a dairy intolerance until they stop eating it. This is because the immune system can mistake dairy for gluten, thus and causing an immune reaction that leads to thyroid tissue destruction.
If you’re serious about managing your Hashimoto’s low thyroid condition, a gluten-free and dairy-free diet often results in significant relief of symptoms, if not total remission.
It’s quite possible you will also need to eliminate other foods, such as particular grains, eggs, or soy. An elimination/provocation diet can help you learn what you react to, or a thorough food sensitivity test from Cyrex Labs.
Is there anything left to eat on the Hashimoto’s diet?
If you’re used to eating whatever you want, giving up gluten, dairy, and perhaps other foods to reduce your Hashimoto’s low thyroid symptoms may seem overwhelming and undoable.
However, many people are having success on this diet and find there is plenty to eat. Basically you will follow a paleo diet comprised mostly of vegetables (eating a diverse array of plenty of vegetables helps boost the healthy gut bacteria that regulate autoimmunity.)
More importantly, symptoms and general health improves so dramatically that people come to love their new diet and despise the way they feel after they cheat.
Ask my office for more information about implementing a gluten- and dairy-free diet.
What to increase when you have hemochromatosis
There are two types of foods those with hemochromatosis should eat plenty of: Foods that inhibit iron absorption and foods that have iron in a form difficult to absorb. Foods that inhibit iron absorption:
- Green or black tea
- Raw kale
- Foods rich in calcium, magnesium, polyphenols, tannins, phytates and/or oxalates.
(Note: If you have Hashimoto’s, you may be sensitive to some of these foods and should avoid them.) Foods that contain iron in a form difficult to absorb:
- Nearly all vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and beans are in this category. Many of them contain oxalates as well, which reduce iron absorption.
If you are going to occasionally consume some foods that have easily absorbed iron, such as meat or sweets, combine them with foods that block iron absorption. A hemochromatosis diet doesn’t have to be extremely strict. Your lab tests will help you keep tabs on how strict you need to be. Ask my office for more information on Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
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.