Food allergies and sensitivities can play a detrimental role in one’s body, leading to inflammation throughout. One key area that is vulnerable to changes both inside and outside of the body is the thyroid, which can be adversely affected by food sensitivities. In this article, we will explore how the thyroid can be affected by food sensitivities, potentially leading to autoimmune disorders such as Grave’s Disease or Hashimoto’s.
The thyroid is a gland located in the center of the throat. Its primary role is that of controlling the metabolism through the production of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is comprised of an amino acid known as tyrosine and the mineral iodine. The thyroid also produces triiodothyronine (also known as T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 is considered the active form of thyroid hormone, while T4 is referred to as the inactive form. The Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), found in the pituitary gland in the brain, is responsible for regulating the production of these thyroid hormones.
Many things can cause the immune system to malfunction, causing it to start attacking the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is highly active and is sensitive to internal and external factors. Environmental toxins, bacterial infections, heavy metals, other toxins and genetics may play a role in one’s thyroid condition.
When the mechanism that regulates the thyroid begins to malfunction, thyroid hormone levels can become out of whack, resulting in too much thyroid hormone (a condition known as hyperthyroid) or too little (hypothyroid).
Thyroid hormone production can go wrong as a result of several different factors, such as the pituitary gland not producing enough TSH or cells located within the body failing to turn inactive T4 into active T3. Thyroid hormone production can also malfunction if the thyroid gland itself has difficulty producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.
The most common form of thyroid problems is known as autoimmune thyroid. This is a condition in which the immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, damage it and cause it to either produce too much or too little thyroid hormone. Too much thyroid hormone (autoimmune hyperthyroid) is known as Graves’ disease, while too little thyroid hormone (autoimmune hypothyroid) is known as Hashimoto’s disease.
Food Sensitivities and Thyroid Conditions
As we know, certain foods can trigger an immune reaction, leading to inflammation. The production of inflammatory white blood cells, which should protect us from the invasion of antigens (foreign substances), turns into an attack on our bodies. At this point, any tissue can be attacked, leading to inflammation. This process can fuel thyroid auto-antibodies (proteins that the body produces in response to invaders that mistakenly turn to attack the body’s own tissues and organs) which then attack the thyroid gland, which is more prone to attack as a result of autoimmune processes than other parts of the body. This can cause the gland to become under- or over-active.
The thyroid can be injured whether a food sensitivity or a food allergy (including celiac disease) is present, despite the fact that the immune system responds differently. A link has been found between thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s and Graves’ and celiac disease. Unfortunately, when an immune reaction occurs, the effects do not only fall on the organ the antigen (a foreign invader) originated in. This means that if the autoimmune disease was first located in the digestive system, it can move its way to affect the thyroid, or vice versa.
By addressing food allergy and sensitivity problems, inflammation or irritation to the thyroid may be reduced. This can play a major role in the treatment of thyroid conditions such as Graves’ or Hashimoto’s disease.