Friday, 5 August 2016

Gluten and Hypothyroidism

 When reading something completely unrelated, I came across a research paper that indicated an increased possibility of gluten causing Thyroid disease (Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s disease) . A bit more of inquisitive search, led to me to four more research reports ( link to the abstracts at the bottom, which has a further link to the complete report, if interested ) that indicated the same.

In recent times, many medical practitioners are recommending their patients with thyroid disease to test themselves for Celiac disease. After all one never knows, if found positive, its better to live on a gluten free diet, than spend your life consuming medicines. Now the question arises what has gluten to do with thyroid.

The thyroid gland is a small hormone-secreting gland located in the front of the neck just above the breastbone (sternum). The thyroid helps regulate a great many different processes in the body. If the thyroid is under-functioning the condition is called hypothyroidism. According to research, the structure of gliadin, a component of gluten, is very similar to thyroid cells. When people are intolerant to gluten their immune system tags gluten molecules for destruction and in the ensuring melee thyroid cells get destroyed too, a case of mistaken identity. The more gluten you eat, the more antibodies you will make and the more the thyroid will be attacked!

Although one does not need to get off gluten in a panic or make a drastic life altering dietary change, it is always prudent to be aware that other than Thyroid disease (Hyper and  hypothyroidism) a higher percentage of population with the following diseases have been found to be gluten intolerant (in other words gluten can act as a trigger for these illnesses in some people).
Just listing a few, where the research was available, although the list seemed quite long.
Type 1 diabetes, Arthritis,  Addison’s disease, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, lupus,  ADD (attention deficit disorder) or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), Autism, Depression, Anemia, Osteoporosis, Osteopenia (low bone mineral density), Epilepsy and cerebral calcifications
Brain and spinal cord defects (in newborns born to mothers with celiac disease who are eating gluten)
Neurological problems, such as ataxia, neuropathy, tingling, seizures, and optic myopathy. There were quite some more, but perhaps more research is required into them.
Meanwhile increasingly many health care personnel are asking their patients with the above illness to check themselves for gluten sensitivity (or celiac disease). In many cases people themselves are staying off gluten to see if it helps them. In any case who would not like to have their unpleasant symptoms disappear without medication.  

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