The Association Between Gluten and the Development of Hashimoto’s Disease.

Inside: How Gluten affects the on the onset development of Hashimoto‘s and Graves‘s disease. An association between these thyroid disorders and gluten is a little unpopular, but very strong.

Many Epidemiological Studies have recognized recently a steady increase in the occurrence of diverse Autoimmune Endocrine Disorders, such as — autoimmune thyroid disease OR “AITD”.

AITD occurs due to many different factors including genetic and environmental factors like — smoking, alcohol, viral infections and environmental toxins.

There are two types of AITD — Hashimoto‘s disease and Graves‘disease. Interestingly both of these have strong correlations in people of age groups above 45-50 years.

In Hashimoto‘s and Graves‘s disease, there are elevated levels of antibodies which circulating against the thyroid proteins especially thyroid oxidase, thyroglobulin and TSH Receptor.

We will talk about these two Diseases and Explain— How Gluten affects the on the onset development of Hashimoto‘s and Graves‘s disease.

Co-relation Between Hashimoto‘s Disease and Gluten

Hashimoto‘s disease affects more than 14 million individuals in the United States. Plus Hashimoto’s is more prevalent in Females.

The Connection between Hashimoto’s disease and gluten is a mistaken identity! But How?

The problem here lies in the close symmetry between the molecular structure of gliadin (protein portion of gluten) and that of the thyroid gland.

Now if you have leaky gut then gliadin can enter in the bloodstream after breaching the protective barrier of the gut. The immune system gets ready to destroy it and produces antibodies towards gliadin but in turn, can damage the thyroid tissue. This explains why if you have AITD your immune system will attack your thyroid after eating Gluten-containing Food.

But the problem here is that — the immune system can respond to gluten for a long period of time and it may last up to 6 months each time you eat gluten.

This is why it is a must to eliminate gluten entirely from your diet if you have AITD.

Thyroid replacement therapy has long been the major and the only medical treatment of Hashimoto‘s disease. However, Research published recently supports the vital role of nutritional approaches.

This case report shows that how a 34-old-year-female with Hashimoto’s disease has successfully managed for only 5 months without thyroid replacement therapy through following a specific type of free-Gluten Diet.

The patient was told and advised to go on a specific type of diet rich in phytonutrients like berries, avoid sensitive foods like – gluten and soy; and consume quality fats, filtered water and fermented food, Nutritional supplementations were used also.

As it is Known that Hashimoto‘s disease is often accompanied by celiac disease

Celiac Disease and Hashimoto‘s disease

Celiac disease is a small inflammatory disease in the intestine with autoimmune features that are triggered and maintained by the ingestion of the storage proteins like Gluten of wheat, barley, and rye.

It has been shown that people with celiac disease have high chances of Hashimoto’s disease also.

Sharing a common genetic background can largely explain the close relationship between celiac disease and glandular autoimmunity.

Further, between 10-30% of patients with celiac disease are thyroid and/or type1 diabetes antibody positive.

Also, about 5-7% of patients with autoimmune thyroid disease have will have celiac disease antibodies like IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody positive.

While gluten ingestion is responsible for the signs and symptoms of celiac disease, it is unknown what factors are associated with the initial onset of the disease.

So, In a study conducted recently aimed to examine whether the timing of gluten exposure in infants was associated with the development of celiac disease autoimmunity (CDA).

The study conducted on 1560 children from 1994-2004 at considerably increased risk for celiac disease or type 1 diabetes, the mean follow-up was 4.8 years.

51 children developed Celiac Disease Autoimmunity (CDA). Results and Findings showed that children exposed to foods containing barley, wheat, or rye (gluten-containing foods) in the first 3 months of life had a 5-fold increased risk of Celiac Disease Autoimmunity compared with children exposed to gluten-containing foods at 4 to 6 months.

Can a gluten-free diet improve Hashimoto’s?

In a recently published research about How Gluten-Free-Diet affects Hashimoto‘s disease, there was a positive improvement in Hashimoto’s antibodies.

The study was conducted on 34 women with autoimmune thyroiditis, and they were divided into two groups.

One group did a gluten-free diet for 6 months and others didn’t do any change to their diet.  The thyroid antibody titers reduced in the gluten-free-diet group as compared to the group with no intervention.

The conclusion of that study suggests that the gluten-free-diet may have clinical benefits to women with autoimmune thyroid disease.

Here is a link to Research-based Hashimoto’s Diet.

Grave’s Disease and Gluten

Grave’s disease is characterized by the production of anti-thyroid antibodies, by infiltration of B and T lymphocytes into the thyroid parenchyma and by alterations in thyroid function.

The correlation between autoimmune thyroid disorders (AITD) and celiac disease (CD) is well known but not much research studies looked at Graves disease and celiac disease.

Although this particular study tested Grave’s disease patients for celiac disease antibodies.

In total, they tested 111 patients and found that a significant number of those were positive for antibodies concerning for celiac disease.

The prevalence of CD in patients with Graves‘ hyperthyroidism was 4.5% as compared with 0.9% in matched healthy controls.

Another case report of a woman with Graves’ disease (GD) with thyrotoxicosis who was not responsive to medical management was screened for celiac disease.

The testing revealed that she was positive for celiac antibodies and was initiated on a gluten-free diet. After that, she started responding to medical management and her condition improved.

Conclusion of the correlation between Gluten and Hashimoto’s and Graves Disease

So there seems to be a clear positive correlation between gluten and autoimmune thyroid diseases like Hashimoto’s and Graves disease.

A diet which is gluten-free should be considered by patients who have either Hashimoto’s and Graves Disease since the evidence suggests that we see improvement in the disease process with these diets.


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An association between thyroid disorders and gluten.

References :

1- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29941778

2- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25342186

3- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28315909

4- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30060266

5- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29428930

6-https://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/ct-for-patients/vol-5-issue-6/vol-5-issue-6-p-3-4/

7- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15730411

The Association Between Gluten and the Development of Hashimoto’s Disease.

About The Author

Dr. Anshul Gupta, MD

I am Dr.Gupta, a Functional Medicine and Integrative Medicine physician. I like to write about Functional medicine approach to managing different diseases and want to empower people to reclaim their health through this modern approach. Come join me on this healing journey.

The Association Between Gluten and the Development of Hashimoto’s Disease.

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