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Gluten and Stress… Just some of the things that damage your thyroid


Estimated reading time: 3 minute(s)

Thyroid problems, especially hypothyroidism, are increasingly common. It’s estimated that one in 10 women suffer from it and that almost a million people in Spain have the disease, but are  unaware of it. 

Did you know that thyroid problems come in as the third top reason for endocrine appointments, with diabetes and cholesterol being number 1 and 2?  

What is hypothyroidism?   

It’s an autoimmune endocrine disorder caused by insufficient thyroid hormone production. Autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease is one of the most common causes of hypothyroidism where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland. 

The thyroid gland is very important because it plays a major role in balancing our metabolism, and helps keep our nervous system functioning properly, among other things.


So, what are some ways our body alerts us that there might be a problem with our thyroid and time to see a doctor? 

  • Slow metabolism
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Intolerance to the cold
  • Dry or rough skin
  • Dry hair and hair loss
  • Constipation and bloating
  • Mental exhaustion and memory issues
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle pain, stiffness, and cramps
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility

What damages the thyroid?

The increase in problems with the thyroid may be due to our pace of life. 

  • Stress: Studies have shown that stress hormones can cause a major reaction by our immune system on the thyroid gland. What’s more, is that it appears that cortisol (the body’s natural alert system and chronic stress hormone) inhibits thyroid hormone production. 
  • Foods that cause inflammation: refined flour, cow’s milk, and processed foods are just to name a few… As we saw in  this post, an anti-inflammatory diet is the best way to maintain a healthy gut
  • Gluten: there is a clear connection between celiac disease and hypothyroidism. It seems that there is an immune system response to both cases, a deficiency in iodine and selenium as well as poor absorption by the intestines.  
  • Soy: hampers the body from absorbing iodine- a synthetic thyroid hormone- and keeps it from working properly in the body. 
  • Environmental toxins:  heavy metals such as mercury, phthalates, and bisphenol A have been linked to thyroid disorders. It seems that these can damage not only the thyroid cell but also the intestinal wall and activate an immune system response. It’s advisable to avoid large fish such as sharks, tuna, or swordfish.
  • Unbalance of the gut microbiota: experts have found that the autoimmune process of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism is triggered when our microbiota isn’t functioning properly. 
  • Vitamin D Deficiency: most people suffering from hypothyroidism lack vitamin D- which is important for overall health as it is a vital player in keeping important organs like our heart, lungs, and brain working well. Plus it keeps the immune system fit and ready to fight against infections.

Best diet for a healthy thyroid 

The usual treatment for hypothyroidism is to supplement the patient with thyroid hormones. However, I also recommend a more well-rounded approach that includes an adequate diet:

  • Selenium: this mineral eases the synthesis of thyroid hormones, the reduction of autoantibodies, and improves the quality of life for people with Hashimoto’s disease. You can find it in seafood, eggs, and liver.
  • Iodine: including foods such as garlic, shrimp, and chard in your diet helps maintain adequate levels of this mineral in the body as hypothyroidism can cause a deficiency.
  • Zinc: present in animal products and also sunflower seeds. 
  • Omega 3: is highly recommended to avoid inflammation in the digestive tract. Additionally, it strengthens the barrier that prevents autoimmune diseases. Reach for some avocado, sardines, and olive oil as they are all rich in omegas!  
  • Prebiotics: have one yogurt a day to strengthen your intestinal wall and microbiota. 
  • Iron: I suggest eating red meat, liver, chicken, fish, and eggs. Don’t forget to accompany these foods with some vitamin C to ensure proper iron absorption. An example: meat with tomato or red bell pepper.
  • Vitamin D: Eggs, milk, or liver are great sources of vitamin D. Don’t forget to also spend some time in the sun- half an hour a day is great for both the body and mind! 
  • Quinoa is better than flour. Avoiding gluten is key and here Natruly we are experts on how to do that. Check out our recipe ideas for some gluten-free diet inspo!

Lifestyle for a healthy thyroid

Besides hormonal medication and an adequate diet, there are some other interesting and highly recommendable habits to treat the causes of this disorder:

  • Physical activity: It goes without saying that keeping your body moving on a regular basis has enormous value for every aspect of our physical health and our thyroid is no exception.
  • Meditation: has already been proven as a major stress reducer. Start with just 10 minutes a day and see how your stress melts away. 
  • Sauna: Did you know that going to the sauna helps to get rid of mercury and other heavy metals such as bisphenol or A that has built up in the body? Plus, what a relaxing way to end the day! 
  • Organic food: Foods free of toxins and pesticides are much safer and recommended to avoid thyroid imbalances. 

Niklas Gustafson
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Niklas Gustafson

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