Hashimoto’s, Thyroid, Gluten and the Gut

Kaitlyn first came to see me suffering with extreme fatigue, insomnia, and a feeling of “unwellness” many years ago. She had a young child and worked part time but felt very fatigued all of the time. She was health conscious and followed a vegetarian diet with her husband and fed her whole family that way.

 

The first thing we did together was to run some bloodwork and to check into how her digestive system was working with Functional Medicine Testing. Through the allergy testing we found that she was allergic to most vegetarian protein foods such as dairy, beans, gluten (seitan – in meat substitutes) and soy. And her thyroid levels were way too low. She decided to add in clean animal proteins (grass fed beef, organic free range poultry and wild clean fish) and she went on prescription thyroid medication and with some fluctuations began to feel better.

 

After a period of stress and adjusting her thyroid medications a few times, we decided to test for Thyroid Antibodies to rule out Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease. Her tests came back positive for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. These results were not at all surprising for me and with some more minor tweaks to her protocol, she remains well.

 

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid. Symptoms can be crushing fatigue, and inability to lose weight, anxiety, depression, insomnia, dry skin and constipation. Often there are associated digestive issues because, as in most autoimmune diseases, the gut and digestive system is intimately involved.  When working with autoimmune disorders, especially Hashimoto’s, gluten must be strictly avoided, even when Celiac disease tests negative. (Nayer et al). Most individuals with Hashimoto’s disease also have leaky gut but may or may not also have Celiac, but most are at the very least gluten sensitive. Since not treating the gut along with Hashimoto’s disease, in my experience, inadequately manages this disorder, the patient will continue to suffer sleep issues, anxiety issues and fatigue issues unless the underlying gut and food allergy/sensitivity issues are also fully dealt with.

 

With some patients, eliminating gluten from the diet just isn’t enough. All grains are inflammatory with this subgroup, and so all grains are activating the autoimmune process and so a Paleo-type diet is indicated. And with some super sensitive patients, the autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) which even eliminates nuts and seeds, is the only food plan that helps bring relief. Many patients balk at a restricted diet, but in the long run they find it to be worth it when they begin to truly feel better and regain their energy levels, lose the extra weight and sleep better.

 

 

After changing their diet, it often takes 12-18 months in my clinical experience for the patient to fully heal their gut when using a dedicated protocol. But many who embrace the Paleo type diet recommendations while supporting related adrenal glands (which are usually overfunctioning or downright depleted!) find relief on all levels much sooner. It is the patients of mine who are resistant to making the lifestyle and diet changes who seem to continue to suffer needlessly. Because, as we all know, gluten is delicious.   But if you or someone you love falls into that category, they need to ask themselves what their priorities are. Because sometimes gluten needs to be eliminated and purged from one’s life and home in order to truly heal.

And I do not say that flippantly or lightly. Having taken these steps myself, after initially feeling resistant and overwhelmed, I am glad that I was able to fully embrace the food and diet piece since feeling well, at least for me, is worth never eating gluten again!

 

Kaitlyn felt better initially when we started working together, but it was after we really got to the bottom of her autoimmune disease and made some tweaks to support her healing for this particular issue, that her health and wellbeing really began to soar! She now only needs to see me periodically for minor tweaks to her protocol usually after periods of increased work and stress, which are difficult to fully avoid in this day and age.

So if you know that you have a thyroid issue, but haven’t been checked for Hashimoto’s, it may be useful to take that step. Or even if you are starting from scratch on your journey to wellness and some of these symptoms sound all too familiar!
I work with lots of patients near and far with gut health and/or thyroid issues. Many are finding out that they have Hashimoto’. If you would like to work one on one either in person if you are local, or long distance through video or phone, I am still accepting new patients. You can also opt to have a FREE 15 minute phone consult with me to see if you and I are a good fit for each other! To schedule any appointment, you can do this online at https://intakeq.com/booking/NaURW8 or by calling my office (303) 443-2206 M-F 8:30-5 Mountain time to speak with my receptionist. I hope to hear from you soon! Be well!

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Citations

Naiyer AJ, Shah J, Hernandez L, et al. Tissue transglutaminase antibodies in individuals with celiac disease bind to thyroid follicles and extracellular matrix and may contribute to thyroid dysfunction. Thyroid. 2008;18(11):1171-1178.

Duntas L. Does celiac disease trigger autoimmune thyroiditis? Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009;5(4):190-191.

Ch’ng CL, Jones MK, Kingham JGC. Celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid disease. Clin Med Res. 2007;5(3):184-192.

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