Inflammation through wheat, barley, and oats
How bread, pasta, and beer consumption increases the risk of an underactive thyroid
Wheat, barley, and oats are important foods. They have been a part of the human diet for more than 5,000 years. Yet some people can’t tolerate these foods. For people with a gluten intolerance, consuming wheat, oats, or barley can cause damage to the gut — leading to inflammation that can trigger a chronic autoimmune reaction.
What exactly is gluten?
Gluten is a collective name for proteins found in grains of wheat, oats, barley, and rye. The name comes from the sticky, elastic ball of proteins after the dough has been kneaded. Gluten proteins are rich in aminoacid proline, which all human intestines aren’t able to digest properly (1). But eating gluten is only harmful for people who have a genetic mutation (gluten intolerance), as this causes molecules (including gliadin) to be leaked from the intestine into the stomach.
Gluten’s component gliadin is toxic for a lot of people and it’s responsible for the harmful effect on the gut (2, 3).
Gluten sensitivity is connected to (4–7):
Depression, anxiety, ataxia, and sometimes hallucinations
Skin rash, eczema, dermatitis
Muscle and joint pain, leg numbness, fatigue
Vitamin D or iron deficiency, anemia, and changes in the mineral content of the bones
If your lab tests came negative for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, but your symptoms resolve when your diet is gluten-free, you might have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) (8–11). Your doctor might check for ANA (anti-nucleus antibodies) in your blood, they’re found in 5 in 10 people with NCGS (4). NCGS is very common for people with Hashimoto’s (4).
Having a wheat allergy is 10 times more common than having celiac disease (12).
Symptoms of a wheat allergy are:
Nausea and vomiting
Alterations of constipations and loose stools
Bacterial composition of the gut, aka the microbiome, is extremely important for gut health — through the type and the balance of bacteria, as well as the balance between different bacteria and immune cells (13–15).
In addition to wheat, you might be allergic to:
Yeast, oats, corn, millet, instant coffee, and rice (16).
One of the most acute allergic reactions to wheat is wheat dependent exercise induced asthma (WDEIA). WDEIA is triggered when eating foods containing wheat immediately before doing physical exercise (17).
Other manifestations of a wheat allergy can be (18, 19):
Eosinophilic esophagitis — inflammation of the esophagus (the tube connecting the mouth to the stomach)
Gastroenteritis — inflammation of the stomach and intestines
Colitis — inflammation of the inner lining of the colon
Getting a diagnosis
Depending on the severity and duration of your symptoms, as well as when they appear in relation to the time you have eaten your food, your doctor may run a few blood tests. It’s helpful to mention to your doctor if you have seasonal allergies to grass pollen, as they might interfere with the test (20).
What may help?
Besides avoiding gluten-containing foods, eating whole grains instead might help — they are known to reduce inflammation and blood sugar, and can counteract the effects of lectins and gluten (21).
If you suspect wheat or gluten is causing your Hashimoto’s flare-ups, try a week or two without gluten-containing products. Track diet in BOOST Thyroid and observe if your digestion, energy, and sleep improves.
Download the BOOST Thyroid app to manage your thyroid health.
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