Should you avoid gluten if you have Hashimoto's?

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. It is the most common type of hypothyroidism.

Research indicates that a large percentage of people who have Hashimoto’s are also sensitive to gluten. In these people, eating gluten can increase their body’s production of thyroid antibodies!

Gluten is a protein made up of the peptides gliadin and glutenin and it is found in many grains such as wheat, semolina, spelt, kamut, rye and barley. When gluten reaches the intestines, tissue transglutaminase (tTG), an enzyme produced in the intestinal wall, breaks down the gluten into its protein building blocks, gliadin and glutenin.

In people with gluten sensitivity, the body identifies gliadin as a dangerous substance and produces antibodies to attack it. This causes inflammation and damage to the tiny finger-like villi of the small intestine. The tight junctions between cells of the intestinal lining may also become damaged and too permeable or leaky, which allows partially digested protein to enter the bloodstream. These indigested fragments of protein can lead to autoimmunity, which in turn leads the body to attack the thyroid. As the thyroid tissue gets destroyed, the ability to produce thyroid hormones also drops.

Many people find that after removing gluten from their diet, their Hashimoto's symptoms decrease significantly.

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