Gluten and Hashimoto’s
Think being gluten-free is a fad? If you have Hashimoto’s Disease, think again!
You’d have to live under a rock to not recognize the popularity of gluten-free diets by now. But if you think going gluten-free is just another fad, think again. Although it may be a passing fad for some, a gluten-free diet is powerful medicine for those suffering with Hashimoto’s Disease.
The benefits, which attain almost miraculous heights for some people, vary depending on the person. One important fact that a lot of patients don’t realize is that the gluten molecule is almost identical to the thyroid gland. If you have Hashimoto’s Disease, anytime you eat gluten, your body marks more of your thyroid gland for destruction. Some patients even notice their throat swelling/getting tight if they consume wheat.
While some gluten intolerant patients may have gastro-intestinal symptoms (i.e. bloating, flatulence, constipation/diarrhea), other symptoms may appear but patients don’t associate them with the food they are eating. A great example is myself; if I consume gluten, my joints swell up the next morning, specifically, my fingers. Also, I become very congested (this happens with dairy as well), and suffer headaches.
One of the most common consequences of gluten intolerance are symptoms that express themselves neurologically, and even these can vary.
Can gluten intolerance really affect my brain?
Yes, the part of the brain most commonly affected by a gluten intolerance is the cerebellum. This is the area at the back of the brain that controls motor movements and balance. This can cause issues with balance, vertigo, nausea, car sickness and sea sickness, and getting dizzy or nauseous looking at fast-moving images or objects.
Another area commonly affected are the protective coating of nerves called myelin. As damage to myelin progresses one can develop multiple-sclerosis type symptoms such as numbness, tingling or muscle weakness. I typically see many diabetics, who suffer from thyroid disease, struggling with peripheral neuropathy due to blood sugar dysregulation AND gluten intolerance.
Other neurological symptoms associated with gluten include obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), depression, anxiety, memory loss, brain fog, autism symptoms, and even more serious psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. How a person with a neurological response to gluten reacts depends on that person’s genetic makeup.
Why does gluten cause such diverse symptoms?
The symptoms of a gluten intolerance vary from person to person because of its effects on the immune system and brain.
Gluten is inflammatory and damaging to the gut in many people, causing leaky gut. The gut is the seat of the immune system, and also communicates intimately with the brain.
When the gut is constantly inflamed and becomes leaky (even though one might not have digestive symptoms), this increases overall inflammation in the body and the brain.
Increased inflammation not only gives rise to myriad disorders on its own, it also increases the risk of developing an autoimmune disorder. This is a disorder in which an imbalanced immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys tissue in the body, such as the brain, the thyroid, the pancreas, joint cartilage, and more.
Gluten and autoimmune disease
When it comes to autoimmune disease, no tissue in the body or brain is safe from an overzealous immune system deranged by constant inflammation. The rates of autoimmune diseases have exploded in recent years, and most are not yet diagnosed — meaning years of chronic and “mysterious” symptoms.
Specific laboratory testing to determine gluten intolerance
There are several lab companies that test for gluten intolerance, my favorite being Cyrex Laboratories. They are the only lab in the country that tests all the different subsets of the gluten molecule. You can learn more by visiting their website, www.cyrexlabs.com
I like to base patient management off of specific lab markers and results, along with patients’ symptoms. Combining the best laboratory testing in the country, along with my experience working with Hashimoto’s Disease, results in the best possible patient management you can experience.
If you would like to talk more about your health condition, give my staff a call (866) 375-4641 to schedule your complimentary phone consultation.