Gluten Sensitivity and Thyroid Health

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Gluten intolerance is not the same as having a true gluten allergy. Both, however, can  have detrimental effects on your body IF you are consuming them without proper support.

Did you know that the MAIN reason for food intolerances is actually LEAKY GUT?

We’ve talked about this A LOT – but it’s REAL and it’s important to be aware of.

When your gut lining is not intact, food leaks into your body without protection from bacteria, etc. and that’s not normal! Because of this, your immune system kicks in to ward off these “invaders” and protect you!

The good news is, leaky gut CAN be healed. 🙂

What are some signs you may be dealing with leaky gut?

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  • Food Sensitivities – The lining of your gut is meant to keep the many toxins and foreign particles that come into the body out of the bloodstream. When the intestinal lining becomes “leaky”, your body begins to mass-produce antibodies to fight off potential invaders. This makes you more susceptible to antigens in certain foods, particularly gluten and dairy.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Studies suggest that patients with IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease all have elevated gut permeability (leaky gut).
  • Autoimmune Disease – Zonulin is a protein that is responsible for modulating the tight junctions in the small intestine (keeping them tight so that food cannot escape into the bloodstream). According to an article published in the Physiologic Reviews, when zonulin becomes “disrupted” (often by gluten or other inflammatory foods), those who are genetically susceptible will develop “intestinal and extraintestinal autoimmune, inflammatory and neoplastic disorders”.
  • Thyroid Issues – A common autoimmune disorder linked to leaky gut is Hashimoto’s disease (thyroiditis). This is when the immune system attacks the thyroid specifically.
  • Malabsorption – People with leaky gut often experience poor absorption of nutrients. The most common nutritional deficiencies that coincide with leaky gut are vitamin B12, magnesium and enzymes.
  • Inflammatory Skin Conditions – Your body is going to get rid of toxins in any way it can. If the gut is not doing it’s job in filtering these before they hit the bloodstream, a common side effect is skin problems. These are almost always a sign of poor gut health and toxin overload, and the body’s attempt to cleanse.  
  • Autism – Last January, a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience found that children with autism almost always have gut dysbiosis, leaky gut and/or malabsorption suggesting a link between gut health and the autism spectrum.  
  • Seasonal Allergies – Leaky gut is a common culprit in allergy symptoms. Both the respiratory tract and the gut are immune barriers and when one is functioning poorly, the other is affected.
  • Asthma – Asthma is sometimes the body’s reaction to food allergies or intolerances which have been caused or exacerbated by a leaky gut.  
  • PMS/PCOS – Studies have found that leaky gut can contribute to both PMS and PCOS; both of which are hormonal imbalances related to the female reproductive system.
  • Chronic Fatigue/Fibromyalgia – New research has found a link between gut bacteria and chronic fatigue symptoms. Researchers of this new study were able to predict with 83% accuracy WHICH of their participants suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome through looking at the diversity of their gut bacteria using stool samples and blood work.
  • Candida – One of the most common causes of Leaky Gut is candida. So if you have leaky gut you are most likely also suffering from candida.

What should you be looking for? What are the steps you can take right now to help heal and seal your gut lining?

1. Cut Out Gluten

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I know it sounds drastic, or maybe downright CRAZY! But I can tell you from experience that this simple change in my life and that of SO many of our clients have proven tremendously beneficial.

Challenge: Cut it out for 30-60 days and see how you feel!

A lot of people get used to feeling bloated, sick, tired, crappy… they don’t even realize that they could feel SO much better if they made some simple changes to their diet.

And if you think about it, eating WHOLE foods prepares you for a gluten-free diet anyway. Focus on what you CAN have – fruits, veggies, quality protein, even quinoa (which is technically a seed!). Mother Nature provides SO much – take advantage of all the goodness available to you.  

2. Labs

The labs I like to use are the panel tests from Cyrex Labs. You’ll need to request this from your ND (Naturopathic Doctor) or FMD (Functional Medicine Doctor) most likely (MDs don’t typically take specific lab requests, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!).

Cyrex Labs is a Clinical Immunology Laboratory that specializes in functional medicine and autoimmunity. They test for gut permeability, wheat/gluten reactivity, cross-reactive foods (see below), food sensitivities, blood-brain barrier permeability, etc.

For these labs, generally all you will need is a blood and/or saliva sample. Ask your practitioner for the best option for you.

3. Food Journal

It’s amazing the clarity that comes when we take the time to really focus on what we are putting into our body daily – and how we are reacting to it!

Most of us eat on autopilot because we’re busy (I can be guilty of this at times so I get it!). But how is that sandwich, donut, bagel, etc. REALLY settling in your beautiful body? Pay attention to the signs and signals your body inevitably sends you every time you eat. The tricky part is that intolerances can show up much later than ingested – up to 72 hours later! So PAY ATTENTION. True allergies, however, are immediate.

Let’s talk about cross-reactivity…

Those who are sensitive to gluten may often experience something called cross-reactivity. On a molecular level, there are certain foods that bind to the same receptor sites as gluten, meaning that when you eat them, you might experience the same symptoms that you would if you were eating gluten itself.

Some of the most common culprits include:

  1. Dairy
  2. Nightshades (bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes)
  3. Corn
  4. Soy

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to say goodbye to these foods forever. Once you’ve spent a good amount of time focusing on healing your gut, you can slowly reintroduce these foods back in and see how you feel.

You might notice right away that you start to feel old symptoms come up again, which is a sign that you might want to leave that certain food out of your diet for good. But keep in mind that in honoring your body in this way, you are setting yourself up for a happier, much healthier mind, body and spirit. And that’s the goal, isn’t it?

How Gluten Sensitivity Relates To Your Thyroid

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There are several studies that show an obvious link between autoimmune thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, etc. and gluten intolerance. Because of this, many researchers suggest that doctors always screen for BOTH if they suspect one or the other. TPOAb is specific to Hashimoto’s, while TgAb is specific to Graves. Other markers to consider pertaining to the thyroid are: TSH, T3, T4, T3 Uptake and Free T3 (most MDs don’t feel all of these matter, but in my experience, they absolutely do).

What’s going on here? Why does gluten have it out for your thyroid?

Turns out that the molecular structure of the protein in gluten (known as gliadin) closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When the gut becomes permeable (leaky) and this protein is able to breach the barrier of the gut, the immune system marks it for destruction. Antibodies are then created specifically to fight off gliadin. But because gliadin and the thyroid have such a similar structure, these antibodies also attack the thyroid.

I know… totally unfair!

When you have gluten sensitivity and a permeable gut, you build up a lot of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines in the body. These are shuttled throughout the body and may cause other health issues, including thyroid problems.  

Moral of the story – listen to your body and honor it!

You’re worth the effort it takes to do so. And you’ll be glad you did when you begin to feel better than you thought possible – or maybe, just better than you have in a long time. Health is within your reach so keep striving…

Remember, we’re in this together.

And a BIG shout out to Kusha for dropping some serious knowledge for us all to learn from!

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Drew Canole

Drew Canole

CEO at Fitlife.tv
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.

As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
Drew Canole
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