Gluten-Free Diet and Thyroid Health



While it hasn’t totally been accepted as an “absolute” cause of thyroid disorder, the amount of medical professionals who have found success using a gluten-free diet is increasing. They have found it to ease many symptoms of thyroid disorders.

If you are among the many who suffer from thyroid disorder symptoms and feel a bit out of control, you are most likely frustrated because you can’t find a tangible reason for why your thyroid is out of balance. You may also be discouraged because medical options don’t resolve the cause of the problem. The medications you take often have unpleasant side effects, your hormones continue to be uncooperative, and you can’t get straight answers to your questions. If this is what you are experiencing, don’t give up hope. There may be a way you can regain control and begin feeling much better.

Though thyroid disease may not have that “shock factor” that makes it be a hit topic for news and talk show programs, it is estimated that 20 million Americans may have some type of thyroid disease. It is also estimated that up to 60 percent of these people aren’t even aware they have the problem.

Thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder. Another autoimmune disorder is Celiac disease, caused by ingestion of gluten, which is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, bulgar, semolina, spelt, etc. When people with this disease eat gluten, it causes their body to begin an immune response that attacks their small intestine and causes damage that causes nutrients not to be absorbed properly into the body.

You may be wondering how these two diseases relate. Thyroid problems share a genetic predisposition with Celiac Disease. This could be either Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease, which are two types of thyroid disorders. It has been documented that celiac diagnosis often occurs in those who present with Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases (ATD). One study showed that patients who started a gluten-free diet had an excellent clinical response including improvement of hypothyroidism and a reduction in the amount of thyroxine medication they were prescribed. Another study discovered that thyroid disease was three times higher in those with celiac disease. It has been found that many people with celiac disease are more likely to develop ATD. It has also been discovered that many with ATD are likely to develop celiac disease.

In a study exploring the connection between autoimmune hypothyroidism and celiac disease showed that anti-tTG antibodies are present in those with active celiac disease and that they were reduced and sometimes eventually returned to normal if the patient was on a gluten-free diet. Other studies have suggested that a gluten-free diet has the possibility to improve thyroid function because it reduces autoimmune reactions in the body.

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder there are many foods that are good for your diet. These include:
• Ocean-fresh seafood
• Selenium foods—Brazil nuts, tuna, tomatoes, and onions
• Iodine foods—Sea vegetables, yogurt, eggs, fish, cow’s milk and shellfish

Obviously, those with thyroid disorders should avoid gluten-containing grains like those previously stated. There are also other foods you should avoid for thyroid health. These include:
• Some raw vegetables—Asparagus, spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, cauliflower, kale, radishes, and mustard greens.
• Soy—Tofu, edamame, miso, etc.
• Millet

If you’re suffering from thyroid disorders, you know the symptoms can be painful. A healthy, gluten-free diet, however, can help reduce or even alleviate these symptoms.