Gluten and the Thyroid
Gluten can contribute to thyroid dysfunction and autoimmune diseases because of it’s effect on the digestive system creating leaky gut.
Leaky gut is a condition where the tight junctions of your intestinal walls become loose, allowing undigested food particles, microbes, and toxins to “leak” into your blood stream.
If microbes, food particles, or toxins enter your blood stream, it will trigger an immune response since the body will see these foreign objects as invaders. A chronic case of leaky gut will continuously activate your immune system and can create confusion to the point where your own antibodies will attack your own tissue, i.e. Hashimoto’s.
Gluten signals the body to release zonulin, a chemical in your digestive tract that triggers the junctions in your intestinal walls to open up.
Additionally, the gluten protein (along with gliadin) has a shape and structure similar to some of your body tissues, especially the thyroid. It is called molecular mimicry. The body can mistake your thyroid as gluten and attack it.
If you get a zonulin test and it is high, it is a good idea to avoid gluten and all wheat products. We will talk more about the breakdown of gluten in a later post.
You can get zonulin tested with specific blood tests, and can see how high your levels are. Glutathione and glutamine are supplements that have been shown in research to reduce the effects of zonulin. So, in summary, get your zonulin and food sensitivities checked!