The Connection Between Celiac Disease, Leaky Gut, and Your Thyroid
7 minute read
The connection between leaky gut and celiac disease might make sense to many people. Both conditions are related to gut health and chronic inflammation. What may not seem so obvious is a relationship between these gut conditions and thyroid dysfunction.
Autoimmune conditions, however, do affect your thyroid. Research has shown the direct relationship between thyroiditis and intestinal diseases such as celiac disease.
Not As Different As You May Think
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in your intestines, in response to the presence of gluten. Autoimmune diseases can also affect your thyroids, such as Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Studies have found that the chronic inflammation associated with celiac disease can increase your risk of other autoimmune disorders, including those that damage your thyroid.
The possible link between the two autoimmune conditions means that if you are diagnosed with one, you should get regularly screened for the other. While one condition is not certain to cause the other, the strong link between inflammation certainly puts you at more risk.
There seem to be specific genes involved that promote the appearance of both thyroiditis and celiac disease. Identifying this gene can help you in identifying your risk for either or both conditions.
There are several shared symptoms between thyroiditis and celiac disease. This makes perfect sense when you consider that autoimmune responses and inflammation play significant roles in both diseases.
♦ Weight loss (celiac disease and Graves’ disease)
♦ Constipation (celiac disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
♦ Diarrhea (celiac disease and Graves’ disease)
♦ Joint pain (celiac disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
In addition to these commonalities, all three conditions cause depression and anxiety, fatigue, hair loss, infertility, and increased risk for miscarriage.
There is also a distinct relationship between the thyroid and gluten. The allergy to gluten is the underlying problem of celiac disease, and most people diagnosed with the condition know to avoid it as much as possible. However, many are not aware of the effect that gluten has on the thyroid.
Specific antibodies found in celiac patients can bind to thyroid cells and disrupt their function. The presence of gluten not only triggers an autoimmune response, but it also interferes with vital thyroid functions as well.
In addition to this, gluten contributes to the development of leaky gut, which is common in those with celiac disease. The condition of leaky gut can be avoided by removing gluten from the diet, but anytime it is consumed, your gut wall can be damaged.
A leaky gut allows particles to travel through the blood, triggering widespread inflammation-causing or worsening any autoimmune thyroid conditions, and disrupting thyroid function.
Because gluten is harmful to those with celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid diseases, following a gluten-free diet is the best way to prevent the inflammation that causes symptoms.
Scientists are still trying to determine if a gluten-free diet will help with thyroid diseases, but given that gluten plays a role in inflammatory responses, cutting gluten out certainly won’t hurt.
What has been discovered is that certain antibodies associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders like Graves’ and Hashimoto’s, decrease after individuals follow a strict gluten-free diet. It is believed that antibody production is reduced as a result of less inflammation.
Even if you do not have celiac disease, any intolerance to gluten can cause an inflammatory reaction and this, in turn, will impact your thyroid.
What You Can Do
Eating gluten-free will obviously benefit those with celiac disease or any gluten sensitivity. Now that there is a known relationship between autoimmune thyroid diseases and celiac or leaky gut, this diet may also benefit others.
Reduced inflammation and symptoms are the most notable benefit, but in addition to this, a gluten-free diet can help you in other ways.
♦ Your intestines can benefit from having time to heal after inflammatory damage. This means leaky gut can be reversed, and a healthier gut will allow for proper nutrient absorption. The thyroid will then be nourished fully and can produce and regulate essential hormones more efficiently.
♦ Thyroid inflammation will be reduced as a result of an overall reduction in inflammatory cytokines. Protecting the thyroid from inflammation means it can perform its functions more efficiently, and symptoms of autoimmune diseases will be reduced.
♦ Common symptoms of both celiac disease and autoimmune thyroid diseases such as fatigue, irregular bowel movements, depression, anxiety, and joint pains will all be reduced if not eliminated.
♦ The absorption and effect of any thyroid medications will be enhanced as the health of your gut improves. No more inflammation means anything you consume, including medications, will be absorbed and utilized more efficiently.
In addition to reducing inflammation, you can also work to promote the health of your gut. Leaky gut causes increased intestinal permeability, and this contributes to the worsening of an autoimmune condition.
The best way to support gut health and repair any damage already done is with a high-quality gut health supplement. Ingredients like probiotics, and beneficial yeast such as S. boulardii help to keep the gut environment balanced and your intestinal walls strong.
The Bottom Line
No matter where a particular organ is situated in the body or what the function is, everything in your body works together. It may not seem that your thyroid and your gut would be impacted by the same things, but studies have found that inflammation and autoimmune disorders closely link these organs. When it comes to inflammatory-related conditions, you want to be sure you are doing all you can to reduce inflammation and symptoms.
There is no evidence that having one condition will cause the other, but there is a relationship between an unhealthy gut and thyroid dysfunction. Having celiac disease means you should be aware that gluten will create uncontrollable inflammation, which can trigger thyroid problems. Because of this, it is worth speaking to your doctor about a gluten-free diet, so that you can eliminate inflammation and leaky gut, and protect your thyroid from autoimmune diseases or troubles.