How going GF can help save your thyroid

Going gluten free (GF) can be a bit of a challenge, I know. However, if you suffer from any type of autoimmune disease, you should definitely give it a go. Personally, I couldn’t believe how quickly my brain fog disappeared & how much my energy increased. 90% of my clients report similar improvements and if you’d like more proof that GF diets work for autoimmunity (AI), there are plenty of research papers published in medical journals.

Leaky gut

Gluten, which is a protein found in wheat and other grains (as well as everything made from them) causes your gut to become more leaky. What do we mean by that? 

Every time you eat, your stomach digests the food turning it into a pulp. This pulp moves into your intestines, where the nutrients it contains become absorbed into the bloodstream. What can’t be absorbed moves on towards the rear end. 

Now, imagine your gut wall (intestinal wall) is like a brick wall. Nutrients are absorbed through the gaps between the bricks and everything else is kept inside. When you eat gluten containing foods, the gaps between the bricks become larger – that’s what we mean by leaky gut. This actually happens in all people after eating gluten. The gaps widen and then shrink once again. In people with autoimmune conditions the gaps can stay open for a prolonged period, which can fuel inflammation and, consequently, autoimmunity. 

Digestion issues

People with autoimmunity can have lower levels of stomach acid and digestive enzymes required for proper protein digestion. Imagine that proteins are like long strings of pearls. When we digest proteins, the strings get broken and the single pearls (called amino acids) become freed up for absorption. 

Lack of stomach acid and digestive enzymes means that instead of single amino acids you have short strings of amino acids lingering in the gut. If the gut is leaky (and it is leaky if you eat gluten, as explained above), these strings can get into the bloodstream. Since they are not supposed to be there, the immune system mounts a response – it makes antibodies to help remove these unwanted molecules. The problem is that the strings from partially digested gluten resemble parts of your thyroid. This means that the immune response directed against gluten can literally destroy your thyroid!

What’s the immune system doing in your gut?

The gut is the largest interface between the outside world and your body. That’s actually where the outside world becomes your body! The food you eat gets digested and absorbed to nourish your cells, to become your cells. 

You may not realise this but while eating you’re also consuming large numbers of bacteria, viruses, foreign particles etc. Your immune system is like border control in your gut. It allows nutrients in and keeps everything else out. And if anything unwanted gets in, the immune system mounts an attack. This could be partially digested proteins, such as gluten. An activated immune system means inflammation and inflammation feeds autoimmunity. 

How all this adds up?

In simple words, the 3 things you need to remember are:

  • Gluten can cause the gut to become more leaky
  • Protein digestion can be impaired in people with autoimmunity 
  • Partially digested gluten can trigger an autoimmune attack on the thyroid

There’s way more to the gluten – autoimmunity story but what I’ve mentioned here should be enough to convince you to try a GF diet. By removing gluten containing foods from your menu, you’re giving your gut the chance to heal and you’re giving your immune system the chance to calm down and stop attacking your thyroid. This proved to be an important step to recovery for many of my Hashimoto’s & Graves clients and I sincerely hope it’ll move you in the right direction too 🙂

Oh, and by the way, avoiding gluten containing foods means you’ve got more space in your belly for healing, anti-inflammatory foods! Fill up on vegetables to reap the benefits of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other magical molecules they contain!

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