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Thyroid - Leaky Gut - Gluten & AutoImmune Connection

Thyroid, Leaky Gut, Gluten and The Auto Immune Connection

In my last article titled Thyroid Symptoms I highlighted the fact that the two most common types of thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s and Graves’, are caused by autoimmune disease, a condition in which your body confuses your own tissues with outside invaders and begins attacking itself. But what causes the autoimmunity, and how does it lead to thyroid disease? The answer is multi-part, but it all begins in the gut, because the gut is the gateway to health. In this article we will uncover the ways in which a damaged gut sets off a chain reaction that leads to both autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid disease.

Healthy Gut or Leaky Gut?

Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Alessio Fasano, we now know the mechanics that cause a leaky gut, and that it is one of the primary triggers for all autoimmune disease, including autoimmune thyroid disease. As you might guess by its name, leaky gut occurs when your gut (specifically your small intestine) becomes too permeable, allowing particles to leak from your digestive tract and travel freely through your bloodstream.

Gluten is one of the main causes of leaky gut in people that I see with thyroid issues and autoimmune diseases, and not just among Celiac patients, but in anyone with gluten sensitivity. When anyone with gluten sensitivity eats gluten-containing food, the gluten proteins make their way through the stomach and arrive at the small intestine, where the body responds by producing zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of the intestinal walls to open up, creating permeability. Leaky gut can also be caused or exacerbated by gut infections such as Candida overgrowth, medications like antibiotics or birth control pills, and stress.

Now that your permeable small intestine has allowed toxins, microbes, and partially digested food to leak into your bloodstream, your immune system goes on high alert to neutralize all of these threats. But, because your gut is still leaky, the threats just keep on coming, putting your body in a state of chronic inflammation and putting you on the path to develop an autoimmune disease as your immune system becomes so stressed that it begins attacking your own tissue by mistake. Unfortunately, the gluten that caused your gut to become leaky also makes it more likely that you will develop thyroid disease, due to its structural similarity to your thyroid tissue.

Molecular Mimicry, A Case of Mistaken Identity

Every time your body is exposed to a dangerous outside invader, your immune system memorizes its structure, specifically its protein sequence, so that it can develop the perfect defense to that pathogen and recognize it in the future.

But, the immune system’s recognition system isn’t perfect; as long as a molecule’s structure and protein sequences are similar enough, the immune system can be fooled into attacking look-a-like molecules that are actually your body’s tissue, causing autoimmune disease. Unfortunately for the thyroid, it has two common doppelgangers that put it at risk for rogue autoimmune attacks: gluten and casein (a protein found in dairy), both of which are likely rampant in your bloodstream now, thanks to your leaky gut.

Molecular Mimicry
Molecular MImicry
HarperOne ©2015

It could be pulled straight from a scene in a classic old movie, the thyroid shouts indignantly, “I didn’t do anything, I swear! You’ve got the wrong guy!” and the antibodies cynically retort, “Sure buddy, sure,” before binding to your thyroid tissue to neutralize the “threat.” In the case of autoimmune hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s disease), your immune system’s attacks diminish thyroid functionality, so your metabolic processes slow down. In autoimmune hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease), the antibodies act like Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, causing your thyroid to overproduce its hormones and sending your metabolism into overdrive.

Even in patients who have non-autoimmune thyroid disease, the molecular mimicry phenomenon still impacts thyroid function, which is why I recommend that all of my patients with thyroid disease remove gluten from their diets, even if they are not autoimmune.

Although gluten and casein are the most common hypothesized causes of molecular mimicry-induced autoimmune thyroid disease, the bacteria Yersinia enterocolitica, which makes its way to the gut via contaminated food or water, has been documented by researchers to cause Grave’s disease due to its cross-reactivity with the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone receptor.

How to Prevent Autoimmune Thyroid Caused by Leaky Gut and Molecular Mimicry

Although a gluten-heavy diet and leaky gut can set you on a dangerous path towards autoimmune thyroid disease, their negative effects can be diminished and even reversed.

The first step is to get tested to see if you are sensitive to gluten and any cross reactive foods. Cyrex Labs ofers these three tests.

Cyrex Array 3 for Gluten Sensitivity-Click test name for more info.
Cyrex Array 4 for Gluten associated Cross Reactive Foods and Sensitivities-Click test name for more info.
Lastly after gluten sensitivity is verified you should test for Leaky Gut. Cyrex Array 2 Click test name for more info.

Once you have the facts you can begin the healing process by avoiding gluten and cross-reactive foods. Heal the mucosal barrier in the small intestines with Mucosagen Support for the intestinal lining and reduces leaky gut. Click here for more info.

Now that you have all the facts I suggest you get tested.

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Call to set up a nutritional consultation so that tests can be performed and a comprehensive strategy of lifestyle, dietary modification and nutrient supplementation can be implemented to aid you in reversing this disorder.

We also offer Functional Laboratory tests that can be done through the mail in the privacy of your home to help determine why you are having these symptoms. For more information on these click on lab tests.

For an appointment call (818) 707-3126 or 800-956-7083 or go to lab tests and click on appropriate test for information.

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Teresa Rispoli is a Doctor Of Clinical Nutrition, a licensed Acupuncturist and Aestheticisan, and clinical researcher. She has been in practice for well over 27 years. It is through her clinical practice that she has gained insights into chronic health conditions. If you are suffering from unexplained symptoms that come and go you owe it to yourself to find out why. Find out today call for a Nutritional Consultation with Dr. Rispoli. Remember that the body can heal itself if given the proper nutrients with the right environment.

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Call 818-707-3126 to set up a Nutritional Consultation so that Dr. Rispoli can get to the root of your health concern, design a therapeutic diet and or comprehensive strategy of lifestyle changes, and nutritional support to aid you in the direction of wellness.

We also offer Functional Laboratory tests that can be done through the mail in the privacy of your home, to get to the root of your health concerns. Just choose lab tests and click on test of interest.

Click on Related Articles or Products to the left for more information.

Teresa Rispoli has her Ph.D. in Nutrition, is a licensed Acupuncturist, Master Herbalist, Certified Functional Nutritionist, has a Doctorate in Naturopathy and is a clinical researcher, and Licensed Esthetician. She has been in practice for well over 27 years. It is through her clinical practice that she has gained insights into chronic health conditions. If you are suffering from unexplained symptoms that come and go you owe it to yourself to find out why. Find out today call for a Nutritional Consultation with Dr. Rispoli.

If you are suffering from unexplained symptoms yourself to find out why. Find out today call for a Nutritional Consultation with Dr. Rispoli.

Remember that the body can heal itself if given the proper nutrients with the right environment and lifestyle.

Dr. Rispoli will help guide you to make the right choices for your individual needs. Teresa Rispoli will work with you to teach you which program is right for you so you can make informed decisions regarding your health.

She is the founder and Director for Complete Health. She will find the root of your health issues, from a Functional Health perspective, and personalize a health building program to help you experience vibrant health.

Schedule your Wellness Consultation TODAY with Dr. Rispoli

Call 818-707-3126.

Yours For Inner Health and Outer Beauty,
Teresa Rispoli, DCN, CFN, LAC.

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