Low Carb Diets Decrease Thyroid Autoimmunity

A recent study has shown a very practical low-carb diet can decrease thyroid autoimmunity. Let’s discuss the details.

If you would like help addressing thyroid autoimmunity, click here.

Low Carb Diets Decrease Thyroid Autoimmunity

Dr. Michael Ruscio: Hi, this is Dr. Ruscio. And let’s discuss the ability of low-carbohydrate diets to lower or decrease thyroid autoimmunity.

First, what is thyroid autoimmunity? Thyroid autoimmunity is a process in which your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. And this can eventually cause enough damage to the gland to then cause hypothyroidism.

In fact, thyroid autoimmunity is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in most countries. So being able to treat this and manage this is a very important aspect for those who have hypothyroidism and/or thyroid autoimmunity.

Now, recently, a study was published that looked at what happened to a group of patients that went on a low-carbohydrate diet. Now, specifically, this wasn’t an incredibly restrictive, what we would call very low-carbohydrate diet where people had to meticulously monitor their carb intake.

It was, rather, very simple. The researchers asked patients to make their diets devoid of breads, cereals, rices, fruits, common foods that are very carb-rich and have lots of carbs in them. And that was it. It wasn’t a very hard diet to do.

And they found, probably most notably, a 44% reduction in a marker that tells you the severity of thyroid autoimmunity, known as thyroid peroxidase (TPO) antibodies.

So there are a few different antibodies that can be tested. But this one is probably the most clinically relevant because it has been shown to correlate with future risk of hypothyroidism, potentially with thyroid cancer, and with overall quality of life.

So this TPO antibody seems to be the most important marker for thyroid autoimmunity. And this marker was decreased by 44% by going on a diet that is devoid of many carb-rich foods.

Now, why might this be happening? There is one possibility that it could be people are cutting gluten out of their diets. And that might be having a positive effect. That certainly is a possibility. Gluten can be problematic. And people who have autoimmunity may be more prone to having problems with gluten.

But we also have to be careful not to be overzealous. The other side of that coin is sometimes people are scared into thinking they have to be totally avoidant of gluten and eat almost like someone who has celiac disease and make their life very difficult. And they don’t actually have to be that strict or that restrictive.

Now, there may be another component to this, which might be an improvement in metabolic health or metabolism by restricting carbohydrates, not necessarily going very, very, very low-carbohydrate but just simply restricting some of these carb-rich foods.

Now, the other side of that coin is an erroneous point that you may have heard about or read about before, which is if you go low-carb, you can damage your thyroid. This is not true. And this study actually gives some nice scientific documentation to that point.

But that thinking is rather a confusion from the fact that when someone restricts their carbs, some thyroid hormone levels shift. But they don’t shift because there’s any damage occurring. They shift because your body is adjusting to having a different diet.

It’s kind of like you’ll see your blood sugar levels change when you go on a lower-carb diet as your metabolism and your body adjust to that. So there’s no thyroid damage. There is just an adjusting of hormones. And if anything, a lower-carbohydrate diet might be very healthy for your thyroid gland.

So again, the most common cause of hypothyroidism is thyroid autoimmunity. This study shows that by simply restricting common sources of dense carbohydrates like breads, cereals, rices, and fruits, one can have a positive impact on one’s thyroid autoimmunity — a 44% decrease in thyroid antibodies, as found by this study.

So this is something to consider, if you have hypothyroidism or thyroid autoimmunity, as part of the management approach for this condition.

This is Dr. Ruscio. And I hope this information helps you get healthy and get back to your life. Thanks!

For more on carbs and thyroid, https://drruscio.com/carbs-thyroid-health-podcast-27/


If you would like help addressing thyroid autoimmunity,
click here.

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Discussion

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34 thoughts on “Low Carb Diets Decrease Thyroid Autoimmunity

  1. Hi Dr. Ruscio,
    Thank you for discussing this topic. It “clicked” as to why some days I felt great with high energy and other days I felt a bit lethargic. Going back, I can pinpoint days I had lower carbs (including less fruit) resulting in increased energy levels. Thanks for this segment.

  2. Thanks for the article. I wonder how this might apply to those who are hypothyroid but do not have thyroid autoimmunity. Do you know of any studies on this particular group?

  3. I have just read your article titled “Low Carb Diets Decrease Thyroid Autoimmunity”. You mentioned in this article that this new “take” on hypothyroidism came out of a new/recent study arriving at this conclusion. Can you please give me the exact name & details of this study, so I can access/read it myself? Thank you very much for helping me with this.

  4. Thanks Dr. Ruscio for your useful updates! I couldn’t easily find this article on PubMed. I’d appreciate it if you have time to post a link to the study.

  5. Hi Dr. Ruscio,
    Thank you for discussing this topic. It “clicked” as to why some days I felt great with high energy and other days I felt a bit lethargic. Going back, I can pinpoint days I had lower carbs (including less fruit) resulting in increased energy levels. Thanks for this segment.

  6. Thanks for the article. I wonder how this might apply to those who are hypothyroid but do not have thyroid autoimmunity. Do you know of any studies on this particular group?

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      That’s the nice thing, you don’t have to be calculated in your intake according to this study. Simply restrict the foods I discussed. If you are underweight then a low carb diet might not be good for you. You may need to focus on ‘safer’ sources of carbs like sweet potatoes, rice and squashes. I would discuss this with your doctor.

  7. I have just read your article titled “Low Carb Diets Decrease Thyroid Autoimmunity”. You mentioned in this article that this new “take” on hypothyroidism came out of a new/recent study arriving at this conclusion. Can you please give me the exact name & details of this study, so I can access/read it myself? Thank you very much for helping me with this.

  8. Thanks Dr. Ruscio for your useful updates! I couldn’t easily find this article on PubMed. I’d appreciate it if you have time to post a link to the study.

  9. Hi, sending you lots of praise from Spain, love your content Dr Ruscio! Could you please post a link to this study on hypothyroid and the low carb diet? Thanks and kind regards.

  10. Hi, sending you lots of praise from Spain, love your content Dr Ruscio! Could you please post a link to this study on hypothyroid and the low carb diet? Thanks and kind regards.

  11. The Atkins diet is known to have made more fat people Fatter than any other “diet’. You simply cannot cut out fat from your diet. You need it for your metabolism. A better “diet” so to speak would be simply clean eating. Nothing processed, shop the peripheral areas of the gorcery store, eat every three hours.

  12. The Atkins diet is known to have made more fat people Fatter than any other “diet’. You simply cannot cut out fat from your diet. You need it for your metabolism. A better “diet” so to speak would be simply clean eating. Nothing processed, shop the peripheral areas of the gorcery store, eat every three hours.

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      That’s the nice thing, you don’t have to be calculated in your intake according to this study. Simply restrict the foods I discussed. If you are underweight then a low carb diet might not be good for you. You may need to focus on ‘safer’ sources of carbs like sweet potatoes, rice and squashes. I would discuss this with your doctor.

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