This is probably the most asked question concerning Hashimoto’s: should I be gluten-free? Well, guess what – there’s no ‘one’ answer. Many experts and patients will contest that a gluten-free diet helps reduce the autoimmune reaction which attacks and therefore slows down the thyroid. But just as many will say it’s unfounded – even my doctor says I can probably eat gluten if I want to. So why give it up?
Well, some science-y people have reason to believe that there is a correlation between Hashimoto’s disease and gluten sensitivity (links below). The theory is that gluten has a very similar molecular structure to the thyroid cells, so when it enters your body the evil little bastards (sorry, autoimmune antibodies) swarm into your lower bowel and attack the gluten. This raises the autoantibody levels, so the attack on the thyroid is worse, too, accelerating the disease.
Some Hashimoto’s sufferers claim that a gluten-free diet did not help them at all – so each to their own. Giving up bread and cake and bagels and donuts and pudding… well, that’s not something you want to go into lightly. You want to make sure you’re doing it for a good reason. Still, there’s no harm in trying it out and seeing if there’s any change in your symptoms/autoantibody levels. This is called an elimination diet – but it’s not something you can do for a few days and decide on. The autoimmune attack provoked by gluten can last for months, so it’s important to give to take the diet seriously (no cheat days!).
In my experience, I just feel a lot better when I’m not eating gluten. I get less headaches, less rashes and my digestive system seems to work a bit better. Plus, since going gluten-free my TSH, T3 and T4 levels have all gone into the normal range. My autoantibody levels though? Yep, still skyrocketing towards infinity.
It’s my choice to eat gluten-free. I may never find out whether it’s directly impacting my thyroid health, but right now it’s working for me. If you have Hashimoto’s and think you could help yourself out in a completely natural way, then I encourage you to try it. Once you get over the shock, giving up bread isn’t really that bad… really. And there are some AWESOME gluten-free almond cake recipes that totally blow the gluten-y ones out the water.
There’s only one side-effect to going gluten-free – and that’s the looks of judgements and incessant scepticism that comes from friends, family, waiters, randoms of the Internet. But, to them, you can just say…