I have seen a few articles saying that gluten sensitivity is a fad among foodies, and that unless you are a celiac patient, gluten can not hurt you. I mentioned an article about these fads to my husband (him knowing I don’t have celiacs), his response was priceless - “well then why do you puke when you eat gluten?” How clear and how telling! So, of course, I have thought about it more and more. My husband sees the need, how are others missing it. I have seen the comment on more than one social media site, one even referencing a NY Times article, “The Gluten Free Diet is a Fad”, (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/02/20/is-avoiding-gluten-a-risky-fad-or-a-healthy-diet/the-gluten-free-diet-is-a-fad). I thought I would try to put a stop to the nonsense for all of us who suffer from Autoimmune Thyroid Disease (AITD)!!!
When you have an AITD, Hashimotos (hypo) or Graves’ (hyper) or any combination, there is a war in your cells - your body targets the thyroid cells for a fight. It isn’t your thyroid that is causing the problem, it is your body seeing your thyroid as an enemy!!! Now imagine if there was a cell that you introduce into your gut that looks a lot like the thyroid cell (lets call it an identity crisis), say hello to gluten. In otherwords, AITD suffers are not on a fad diet if they eliminate gluten from their diets, they are making a choice to create less enemies in the body. The line has been drawn in the sand for non-celiac sufferers to justify their choices to eliminate gluten from their diet, I for one can say, “I am gluten free, please don’t poison me!!!”
It all started for me many years ago. I had recently lost my gallbladder due to my inability to eat anything, and when I say anything, I mean anything. I was at the point that water even made me sick. The worst food offenders were the white part of lettuce and plain saltine crackers (and in case you are wondering, I know exactly how crazy that sounds!). Fast forward about 5 years from my gallbladder removal, and about 3 months into my thyroid diagnosis. I was still in denial about it all and knew I would get my life back just like it was before….. we can all dream. I was talking to a friend at a dance competition who was very interested in my diagnosis, she is a good friend who knew I was having some food problems. She mentioned that she had 2 other friends with thyroid malfunction and that both of them had cut out gluten and were feeling very much better. I scoffed and told her that that there was NO WAY I would ever be able to give up bread, or pasta!!!! But our conversation planted a seed.
I grew up having severe allergies (so many stories so little time). So I did a little investigative work on my own. I mapped my meals, what I was eating and when I was getting sick. I was looking for patterns, but now I had a target in mind I had not thought of before, gluten. After about a year, I decided to toss in the towel and try to cut out gluten. I was tired of finding bathrooms everywhere I went and mapping my way to and from any venue with a list of places I could stop on the way. I decided, I was too afflicted not to try such a simple fix! I was committed, but then summer came and the tomatoes were growing plump and tasty in the garden - I had a tomato sandwich hankering, and what could it hurt? So I took a nice ripe warm tomato, sliced it up and placed it between 2 pieces of whole wheat bread with some mayo…. yummmmm. Well for a few minutes anyway….. I had just enough time to clean up after lunch before it hit me - it wasn’t staying down!!! After that, I never went back. Gluten was no longer a welcome visitor in my body. After about a month of being completely gluten free (no cheating) i was actually noticing a difference. I was planning less and less around bathrooms.
Now, we are many years later (about 6) and all of a sudden people are questioning my reasoning for going gluten free, saying it is a fad. In the wake of these opinions there are experts in the field that would put such nay-saying to rest. Chris Kresser is one of the most succinct in the reasoning behind AITD and gluten intolerance in his article, “The Gluten-Thyroid Connection” (http://chriskresser.com/the-gluten-thyroid-connection/). In the article, he talks about our bodies having an identity crisis because the protein in gluten is visually very similar to the thyroid, and when it gets into the bloodstream the body labels them both for attack. DOUBLE WHAMMY!!!! Our Immune responses in the body can last extensive amounts of time, and so it will take time before your body starts feeling better. It also makes it more difficult when gluten is introduced to our bodies accidentally or intentionally. If you go gluten free and you are an AITD, don’t use the 80/20 rule…. go into it 100%. If you are anything like me, you will not regret it! I have seen less joint inflammation and pain, clearer mental function, clearer skin, and healthier life! Do yourself a favor, be informed, do some research and make choices that will make a difference in your future.
Better tummies, better lives!