Let’s Talk About Gluten, Shall We?

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Gluten gluten gluten. 

If you have hypothyroidism and especially if you have Hashimoto’s, you’ve likely read or been told that you must avoid gluten. But why? What’s the point?

Written by Amie Hornaman, Functional Medicine Practitioner with a Masters in Clinical Nutrition.

You MUST avoid gluten, you must avoid gluten. I know you are so sick of hearing it by now, ESPECIALLY if you have autoimmune Hashimoto’s. But here’s the thing; as
humans we need to know the why behind our behaviours. When someone tells us what to do our first instinctual question is…why?

In order to make a true behavioural health change we must understand, at least on some level, why we are making a change, why we are doing something that is so dam hard to do.

So lets discuss!

Gluten will interfere with your thyroid functioning properly and you will gain more weight, be more tired, and lose more hair. Period.

I never said I was going to tell you what you want to hear, I’m going to tell you what you need to hear.

Now you want some details. OK let’s start with inflammation. Gluten is not tolerated by approximately 80% of all humans. I’m not talking about being celiac, I mean not tolerated at all. (Non-celiac gluten sensitivity to be exact) Some call it gluten intolerance. Our bodies just weren’t cut out to process gluten so we experience inflammation, and oftentimes its not felt or experienced on a daily basis so we ignore it. However, ignorance is NOT bliss and this inflammation will do a few different things.

First, since conversion of t4 to t3 takes place in the liver AND in the gut, eating gluten containing foods will inflame the gut lining, cause leaky gut (that’s another article for another day) and reduce the conversion. That equals a bad day and is the last thing you want. We want and NEED that t3. T3 runs the show, gives us our metabolism and gets us out of bed in the morning. Our bodies crave it, our cells crave it, and without it, well you all know how it feels without it, you feel like garbage. Hold onto that thought for a moment…

Second, for those with Hashimoto’s or Graves, did you know that the molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland? What does this mean for you? When you eat gluten containing foods the gliadin enters the bloodsteam via your broken down, inflamed gut lining that has been wearing down from years of eating gluten, and is then targeted for destruction by your immune system. The antibodies to gliadin also start attacking your thyroid gland. So, if you have autoimmune thyroid disease your immune system attacks your thyroid. You have to be 100% gluten-free to prevent immune destruction of your thyroid.

Unfortunately “mostly gluten free” is not acceptable. That’s like being kind of pregnant. You need to make a decision, what do you want more, to feel good and work a little harder at eating right or to feel like crap but get to eat what you want when you want? The studies are in [1,2,3] and science is backing me on this…if you have ANY thyroid issue you MUST avoid gluten. I gave you the why, so now you have no excuse.

Amie Hornaman

For over 19 years, Amie has helped people reclaim their health with
Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Amie is a certified nutritionist with a
Masters degree in Clinical Nutrition. She is also Erie’s only functional
medicine practitioner. Because every client is unique, so is Amie’s
approach to their health. A wellness program is designed for each client
based upon their diet, lifestyle, and health history.

Amie is honest and passionate about helping people reach their
goals. Amiehornaman.com


  1. Endokrynol Pol. 2012;63(3):240-9.
  2. Collin P, Salmi J, Hällström O, Reunala T, Pasternack A. Autoimmune thyroid disorders and celiac disease. Eur J Endocrinol 1994;130:137–40. ISSN 0804–4643.
  3. The presence of the antigliadin antibodies in autoimmune thyroid diseases.Akçay MN, et al. Hepatogastroenterology. 2003 Dec;50 Suppl 2:cclxxix-cclxxx.

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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Rachel Hill, Thyroid Patient Expert and Advocate, blogger and author, has Six 2018 WEGO Health Award Nominations. She is a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018, with relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, whilst also currently studying  Life Coaching, Motivational Speaking, Reflexology and more. She has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community.

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