Can food allergy testing help Hashimoto’s hypothyroid? The answer is no. However, you can take steps to improve your digestive health and thus improve your thyroid. Let’s discuss a recent study which found you don’t need to perform food allergy testing if you have Hashimoto’s hypothyroid. We will also discuss steps you can take to heal your thyroid through the gut-thyroid connection.
So, the question here really is, is if you have thyroid autoimmunity, which is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, might you have higher levels of food allergies, and could a food allergy test tell you those food allergies, and then could avoiding those foods help reduce your thyroid autoimmunity, and thus help with the function of your thyroid and hopefully, your symptoms? According to this study, no. And let me quote a few pieces from the study.
There was no significant correlation between any of the 12 increased food-specific antibodies, including gluten, and clinically important phenotypes such as thyroid hormone levels or thyroid antibody levels or symptoms. So essentially, what they found, to state that more clearly, is that there was an equal elevation in healthy controls as there was in those with thyroid autoimmunity. So, those with Hashimoto’s had some elevations of certain food allergens, and healthy controls had certain elevations of food allergens.
And here’s how the allergens skewed, in terms of most common allergen, all the way down through the least common allergen. Milk was the most. Milk and eggs, followed then by grains, followed then by nuts, followed then by legumes, followed then by fruits, or fruits and vegetables, and then finally, by fish, then seafood, then meat, and then coffee and tea. So, what we see here, milk, eggs, grains, nuts, and legumes were the most common food allergens detected. But there was no difference, meaning there were not any more food allergies detected in those with thyroid autoimmunity.
“So, one could go on a Paleo-like diet, and depending on the version of Paleo Diet that you do, you would be cutting out milk, maybe eggs, definitely grains, and legumes, and potentially nuts…”
Now, what’s funny about this, and what you may have heard me say previously is, that I don’t use food allergy testing because we’ve figured out, meaning the scientific and dietary community at large has figured out, what the most common food allergens are. And these are depicted in one of a handful of readily available diets, one of which is a Paleo Diet. So, one could go on a Paleo-like diet, and depending on the version of Paleo Diet that you do, you would be cutting out milk, maybe eggs, definitely grains, and legumes, and potentially nuts, depending on if you do kind of your regular Paleo or the more strict, more avoidant version of the Paleo Diet known as the Autoimmune (or AI) Paleo Diet.
And both of these are fairly easy to obtain a food list for on the Internet, or in my book. It’s not like … If you’re not familiar with these things, they’re not hard to find and figure out what to eat and what not to eat. Now, here’s something that I think is important. We have evidence showing that essentially, a Paleo-like diet was used in one clinical trial, and did show the ability to lead to a 40 to 44% reduction in thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibodies. So, we do have documentation that avoiding foods that are commonly known to be problematic can improve thyroid autoimmunity.
But, you don’t need to do an expensive blood test to document a food allergy to justify avoidance of the food. By the time you went to the doctor’s office or the lab, drew the blood, waited for the results to come back, and then started your diet, you could already be three weeks into a trial on a Paleo-like diet, and ostensibly, feeling better.
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So, skip the testing. Go right to an elimination diet to see if you feel better avoiding some of these foods.
Now, it’s also important to mention that in this same study that I mentioned a moment ago that showed the 40 to 44% reduction in thyroid antibodies on a Paleo-like diet, there was also a suggestion that these patients may have suffered from a degree of carbohydrate malabsorption. And now, what does that mean? It means you don’t absorb carbohydrates well, just as the label implies. So, this opens the door to the possibility that these Hashimoto’s patients may also do well on a lower FODMAP diet, which reduces foods that feed bacteria.
And there is a fairly impressive initial body of data, preliminary data, showing a correlation between small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and thyroid autoimmunity. Also, one study showing a correlation between H. pylori and thyroid autoimmunity. But I think there’s more impressive data looking at the association and documenting the association between small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, SIBO, which will make you sensitive to FODMAPs, and thyroid autoimmunity.
Healing your gut
So, if all that seems like a lot, what do you do? It’s actually not that complicated. What you want to do is heal your gut. Because if you can heal your gut and improve the health of your gut, then you can arguably, improve the health of your thyroid. Is it a guarantee? No. But we know that the gut is very impactful on your immune system because you do harbor the largest density of immune cells in your entire body in the small intestine. So, if you can fix your gut, as this one study has shown with the utilization of a Paleo-like diet, you may see a 40 to 44% reduction in thyroid antibodies.
Now, to build on that, perhaps if you go low FODMAP, that can help you even more. And perhaps if you treated H. pylori or SIBO, or just went through an antimicrobial protocol to help clean out any excess or imbalanced bacteria, you may improve further yet, still. And certainly, that’s something I see in the clinic somewhat frequently. I’ve seen that enough now, I’ve seen enough patients who, after improving the health of their gut and treating some type of dysbiosis, or bacterial overgrowth, some patients, and we’ve even documented some of this on a clinical newsletter, have been able to reduce the dose of their thyroid medication, but feel better at the same time.
So, a lot here, I’m giving to you, kind of in rapid fire. But it all comes down to this – the bottom line in optimizing your thyroid health is improving the health of your gut. And the book that I’ve written, Healthy Gut, Healthy You is the most comprehensive roadmap I could offer you in improving your gut health, and it tends to improve your thyroid health. So, remember that if you’re confronted with a decision to perform a food allergy test, I would save that money and just go right into a dietary trial, again, my book will help you with knowing how to perform these dietary trials. And that could again, keep money in your pocket and get you to the end result more quickly. So, yes, there is an association between gut health and the thyroid. But no, you don’t need to spend money on expensive food allergy testing to obtain the benefits of the diet-gut-thyroid connection. This is Dr. Ruscio and hopefully, this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks.
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