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Hashimotos And Gluten Relationship: A Better Understanding Can Effectively Alleviate Many Symptoms

fresh from the oven sliced gluten free bread on plate

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a type of autoimmune thyroid disease.

Graves’ disease is another autoimmune thyroid condition. Both these conditions contribute to majority of cases with thyroid disease.

Many times, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is linked with gluten intolerance and the ensuing coeliac disease.

Coeliac disease is a condition that results due to intolerance of gut mucosa to gluten foods. This condition is seen in roughly one in 100 persons globally and when left untreated can lead to severe health complications.

This article discusses the link between the two and how treating one condition can benefit other.

Role of autoimmunity

The common factor that connects both conditions is the autoimmunity that develops. Gliadin is the protein component of gluten.

Its structure is almost identical to the thyroid gland cell structure.  Gliadin can get past the gut’s protective barrier and enter into the circulation where it gets tagged by the immune system for destruction.

Because of the close resemblance to gliadin, thyroid cells also get attacked. So if you are suffering from thyroid disease of autoimmune type and happen to eat gluten containing foods your immune system can damage your thyroid.

The autoimmune reaction that is triggered in this way can extend for a span of even 6 months or more every time you take gluten containing foods. This autoimmune trigger can be prevented, if you avoid gluten altogether from your diet.

Gluten intolerance

Gluten intolerance is widespread and is said to affect one in every three Americans. And genetic predisposition to the condition is also a common factor.

With gluten being a staple addition in the average American diet in the form of refined floor, it is important to detect the intolerance and its source to avoid further complications.

Most often intolerance to gluten is not detected as patients and doctors mistake coeliac disease for digestive issues. However the condition can also present without any gut symptoms such as inflammation of respiratory tract, skin, joints and brain.

When left untreated, this can lead to a severely damaged immune system that is rendered incapable of producing any antibodies.

Testing for gluten intolerance

Testing for the condition is a difficult task as glutendoes not enter circulation until when it has increased in severity.

For mild forms of the intolerance blood tests will not show any positive indication. However stool analysis is a better way to test and identify the antibodies formed by the gut tract. For identifying the link to genetic predisposition, a cheek swab is done.

Persons who test positive for HLA DQ genes have more probability of contracting the autoimmune condition, coeliac condition and intolerance to gluten.

Hashimotos thyroiditis

This autoimmune thyroid condition makes one prone to develop other autoimmune disease. This if further compounded by the fact that coeliac disease and Hashimotos share the same genetic predisposition.

Thus if you have already been diagnosed with Coeliac disease the chances of your having Hashimoto’s is more.

Many studies done on this connection reveal that nearly 10% of patients having Hashimotos also have coeliac condition. However even if the percentage of patients is low, when given a gluten free diet it was found that there is a large reduction of symptoms in those having Hashimotos  disease.

This can be attributed to the fact that not all cases of gluten intolerance manifest as coeliac disease. In non-coeliac sensitivity to gluten you will not find the presence of coeliac disease and its associated symptoms.

The non-coeliac sensitivity to gluten can be alleviated when you stop taking gluten foods.

Gluten free diet

When you go on a diet that is free of gluten you avoid processed and inflammatory foods. This is much more effective than when you consume breads, sugars and foods that are free of gluten.

In order to successfully eliminate the gut damage caused by gluten intolerance and to reduce symptoms of Hashimotos it is necessary to switch over to a diet based on whole foods. This will boost nutrients in the body, support hormone function and reduce inflammation.

Further with a gluten free diet you can even treat other gut related issues that you were not aware of before such as bacterial overgrowth in small intestine.

Nearly half of the patients with hypothyroidism have such bacterial overgrowth. Thus getting rid of gluten will help in improving the bacterial overgrowth and bring relief to Hashimotos symptoms.

Final Takeaway

With the risk of coeliac disease increasing with age particularly in patients who experience flare-ups of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis it is important to test for coeliac disease. A diet free of gluten is mostly beneficial even for those without coeliac disease as it helps to lose weight.

This is because you avoid refined foods. The diet also reduces inflammation in the body and improves functioning of thyroid gland too.

Studies indicate that early diagnosis of coeliac disease coupled with dietary restriction helps reduce the complications that are seen in the conditions like osteoporosis, lymphoma and mal-absorption.

With proper diet supervision and stringently avoiding gluten, you can help reduce various inflammatory reactions in the body and reduce Hashimotos’ symptoms too.

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