Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disorder, much like multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Autoimmune disorders attack the body’s own tissues: nerves, brain, gut, thyroid gland, etc. Think of an autoimmune disorder as a raging fire! Every time you throw gasoline onto the fire, what is going to happen? MORE FIRE!
• feeling tired or sluggish
• cold hands and feet
• needing excessive amounts of sleep to function well
• gaining weight easily
• unable to lose weight even on a low calorie diet
• heart palpitations
• inward trembling
• increased pulse or heart rate
• insomnia and the list could go on…
Although the disorder is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States, many do not test for it because a diagnosis is not going to change the standard treatment protocol: to give a thyroid drug.
So what do the two autoimmune disorders have in common, besides being autoimmune? Well, a majority of CD patients are also suffering from thyroid symptoms. Many have been put on thyroid hormones to help regulate their symptoms but are still suffering every few months and must return to have their medication “adjusted”. This is all because of gluten!
Did you know that gluten is also the culprit when it comes to the thyroid gland? Gluten and the ‘ever important’ thyroid gland have a very, very similar molecular structure. When undigested gluten mistakenly slips into the blood stream, the immune system responds by destroying it. Gluten doesn’t belong in the bloodstream but due to an overly permeable intestinal wall (Leaky Gut Syndrome) it can slip right through. As the immune system marks gluten to be destroyed, it also marks parts of the thyroid gland to be destroyed as well, since the molecular structure is so similar. Now, every time a person consumes gluten, parts of their thyroid gland are being destroyed as well. Not only that, but the person’s thyroid symptoms are being ramped up due to the “gasoline” being thrown on the fire.
I have come to see that most autoimmune patients are sensitive to gluten, but majority are also sensitive to milk (casein), soy, yeast, and eggs. How do you know? Proper diagnostic testing is needed to ensure that your body is able to consume such substances.
All patients with a gluten intolerance or celiac disease should be screened for an autoimmune thyroid disorder, just as all patients with an autoimmune thyroid disorder should be screened for gluten intolerance and celiac disease. Proper diagnosis is critical but proper treatment is even more crucial.