Should You Be Eating Gluten Free If You Have An Autoimmune Thyroid Disease?

If you have an autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto’s or Graves, you may have heard that you should eat a gluten free diet. Or, you may have never heard that going gluten free could be helpful for you. Either way, today we will discuss the reasoning behind eating a gluten free diet if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease, so you can decide for yourself if it is something you should try. 

Why Might a Gluten Free Diet Be Helpful? 

The reason behind going gluten free if you have an autoimmune thyroid disease is because of something called molecular mimicry. Gliadin is the protein portion of gluten, and it closely resembles the structure of thyroid gland tissue. So, for those whose immune systems are wired to “attack” the thyroid, such as those with an autoimmune thyroid disease, gluten can cause their bodies to have this same inflammatory immune response. 

Gut Permeability and Autoimmune Conditions 

The case of molecular mimicry mentioned above is especially probable for those who have any degree of intestinal permeability, which is often referred to as a “leaky gut.” The lining of the intestines is designed to let water and nutrients from the food we eat into the bloodstream. When the gut is permeable, this means that the tight junctions of the intestines open up too much and allow larger compounds to enter the bloodstream, including undigested food particles. This can then cause an immune response to be mounted by the body. Many studies point to intestinal permeability increasing the likelihood of developing an autoimmune condition. 

Should You Eat Gluten Free? 

If you have an autoimmune thyroid condition, it may be worth eating a gluten free diet for a period of time to see if it improves your symptoms. But there are many different factors that can come into play, and autoimmune diseases can be very complex, so there is no guarantee that you will notice a difference. If you also suffer from digestive symptoms, such as irregular bowel movements, or experiencing a lot of gas and bloating, then there is a high chance that eating a gluten free diet will be helpful in alleviating your symptoms and lowering your overall inflammation levels. 

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