If you had asked most people what gluten was 10 years ago, there is a good chance you wouldn’t have even known what it was; I didn’t. But, in recent years, gluten has gone from being an unknown to a pesky culprit that a great deal of people are trying to eliminate from their lives. So what exactly is gluten and why is it so often associated with thyroid conditions?
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a form of protein that is found in wheat and other grains, such as, grains and barley. Gluten is responsible for the elasticity of dough, as well as, its ability to rise and delectable chewy texture. That being said, many studies have cited the negative effects that gluten has on the body. Many people are sensitive to gluten. One of the most popular reasons that people switch to a gluten free diet is related to thyroid disease.
The Relationship Between Gluten and the Thyroid
Gluten contains a protein called gliadin, which is foreign to the human body. The foreign substance can lead to an immune response, which is often amplified for people with celiac disease. It’s not just people with celiac disease that experience negative effects from gluten. When consumed, the human body reacts to gluten like an enzyme needed to form chemical bonds within the human body. These enzymes are very much present throughout many organs, however, the thyroid possesses a higher concentration of this particular enzyme. When our body’s immune system begins to attack gliadin, it also causes an attack on the thyroid. As the immune response continues, the thyroid begins to suffer damage that can last for as long as 6 months after gluten consumption.
Over time, the overall health of your thyroid begins to degrade. Once your thyroid has begun to be affected, it can interfere with proper hormone synthesis, metabolism, weight, and energy. It has been determined that those with an autoimmune thyroid disease (ATD) should be regularly screened for celiac disease and gluten intolerance.
In such reactions, a chemical imbalance can affect the entire body. Because, organs such as the thyroid, have no control over hormone production. An imbalance in these hormones can cause issues with metabolism, fertility, mood, and even cardiovascular health. In these common circumstances, gluten can be the cause of many everyday ailments. For those who have an autoimmune disorder or sensitivity to gluten, should do their best to avoid gluten entirely. Avoiding gluten all together, is the best way to keep your thyroid functioning properly in these situations.