It is estimated that about 90% of thyroid issues are actually autoimmune disorders, with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis topping the list of hypothyroid cases. There is strong evidence that both Grave’s disease and Hashimoto’s are linked to gluten intolerance. Why? Because the wheat gluten protein gliadin is so close in structure to the proteins of the thyroid gland that they are mistaken for one another. Gliadin gets into the bloodstream often due to injury to the gut mucosa. This then allows intact proteins to bypass the normal route of absorption which requires them to be broken down to basic amino acids or simple peptides. When this breach occurs, the gliadin protein is essentially still labeled as such and is mistaken as a bad guy by the immune system. Unfortunately, the thyroid gland is often tagged as well and becomes an innocent target for destruction by the immune system.
It is for this reason it is imperative that you avoid gluten if you already know you have Hashimoto’s or Graves disease. Each time you ingest gluten, you activate another assault on the thyroid which can last as long as six months every time you eat it! There is no way to eat gluten-containing foods safely in this case. It’s not about being gluten-free “most of the time”. You have to swear off it completely to avoid the destruction of your thyroid gland.
How does the gut mucosa get injured to the point of failure? There are many possible answers to this but other key players aside from the highly irritating glidain protein, are the non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that so many of us take. I had one client who called ibuprofen “vitamin I” because he took it daily until we discovered that it was the likely cause of his leaky-gut syndrome and “sudden” onset of multiple food allergies. NSAIDs include ibuprofen and medications with ibuprofen in them like Motrin, super-aspirins like Naproxen, and even those seemingly harmless 81mg “baby aspirin.” Even a single dose of baby aspirin causes bleeding in the gastro-intestinal tract. When taken long-term, NSAIDs can cause huge amounts of silent damage to the gut. Having said this, it is really important that you NOT stop taking aspirin based therapies "cold turkey." Please work with your healthcare provider. There are things that can be done nutritionally to help mitigate the damage if you have to be on long-term NSAIDs.
If NSAIDs cause all this damage, why don’t you feel anything? Because the pain receptors in the GI tract are really deep down in the tissue. It’s a good thing too! Believe me, you would not want to feel your stomach lining sloughing off every three days due to its exposure to all that hydrochloric acid! A lot of tissue damage can occur before we register any problem. By then, the leaking has usually been happening for a long time.
Leaky gut syndrome is essentially exactly what it sounds like. Material from the GI tract leaks into circulation and the surrounding tissues without being completely digested. When these food particles leak out of the gut, the immune system sees an invasion and counter-attacks. “Sudden” development of multiple food allergies is a key sign that the gut needs healing. Once the GI tract is sealed back up and healthy, most of those food allergies often disappear because those intact proteins are not making it through any longer.
We are complicated systems of systems. There is nothing we ingest, swallow or breathe in that has only one single biochemical effect whether that is food, medicine, air, water, or a toxin. Please don’t self-medicate with supplements or over-the-counter drugs without learning as much as you can about them and working with someone who can help you make the best choices for your health. Get curious. Get informed. Get Real.