Your thyroid is key to your health in many facets. It impacts your brain, heart, liver, kidneys and skin. It plays a part in your mood, weight, energy, sex drive and so much more.
According to ClinCalc.com, 3,450,708 prescriptions for thyroid medication were written in 2014. This doesn’t include people who haven’t been diagnosed with thyroid problems. Because lack of energy, depression and poor metabolism can be attributed to busyness, stress and genetics, for example, some people don’t realize they truly have a thyroid problem.
In some cases, taking thyroid medicine is a must. But similar to antibiotics, thyroid medication seems to be overprescribed.
What’s wrong with taking thyroid medication?
Let me repeat. Some people absolutely need thyroid medication.
But in other cases, the medication could be masking another culprit. In Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms When My Lab Tests Are Normal?, Datis Kharrazian discusses how in a patient with Hashimoto’s disease, also called autoimmune thyroiditis, her immune system attacks her own cells and organs, including the thyroid gland. As the thyroid gets inflamed, it loses its ability to produce thyroid hormones, which can result in hypothyroidism.
According to thyroidbook.com, Hashimoto’s is the cause of hypothyroidism in 90% of Americans who have it. So for these patients, the root problem may remain unsolved.
Because studies have linked Hashimoto’s with gluten intolerance, Dr. Kharrazian suggests that all sufferers of hypothyroid stop eating gluten all together. Basically, when you have this autoimmune dysfunction, your body sees gluten as an enemy and attacks it. So your body could be in constant attack mode.
If you determine that gluten is your enemy, you may also want to avoid gluten cross-reactors, which are foods your body can mistake for gluten. Thepaleomom.com identifies these foods as cross-reactors: brewer’s/baker’s yeast, corn, instant coffee, millet, oats, potato, rice, sorghum, as well as casein, casomorphin, butyrophilin, whey and milk chocolate due to the dairy proteins.
How should you treat a thyroid problem?
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include fatigue, constipation, dry skin, increased sensitivity to cold, unexplained weight gain, a puffy face, hoarseness, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol levels, muscles aches, joint pain and/or swelling, irregular periods, thinning hair, slowed heart rate, depression and poor memory.
Symptoms of hyperthyroid include irritability, muscle weakness, sleeping problems, rapid heartbeat, heat intolerance, diarrhea and weight loss.
First, if you have these symptoms regularly, ask your doctor to have your thyroid tested using the full panel that identifies levels of all four hormones (reverse T3, free T3, free T4 and TSH). The typical thyroid test only gives you one general level, which often falls into the normal range, leaving your thyroid problem undiagnosed.
Second, give up gluten. Giving up gluten may or may not be a replacement for medication. But even if you need medication, giving up gluten could allow your immune system a much-needed break. The following foods contain gluten:
- wheat germ
- wheat starch
- some caramel color
- some flavors
- many sauces, condiments and soups some lunch meats
For flours and starches, consider using amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava, chestnut, Job’s tears, nut flours, quinoa, taro, teff or yucca. For starchier sides, think beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.
Note that some doctors, especially in our western part of the world, do not necessarily link gluten to thyroid issues just yet. If yours does not, you may want to consult one who does, at least for a second opinion.
It’s difficult to deny. Trends in both numbers of health problems and people intolerant to gluten have skyrocketed in recent years. Whether it’s the gluten or the GMOs typically used in producing gluten that are so harmful, we can only speculate for now.
If you have or suspect a thyroid problem, work with a doctor to get a full thyroid panel done, change your diet and determine the best mode of treatment based on your findings. It’s just another example of how changing your diet can be a life-changer!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.