Last Friday I spoke on Facebook Live about food triggers and Hashimoto’s. I thought the presentation went well, but I decided to put together a different presentation on the same topic. You can watch the video by clicking here, or if you prefer to read the information I also will give a summary in this blog post. By the way, I plan on appearing on Facebook live every Friday at 1:30pm EST up until the release of my new book, and then even after the release I hope to continue doing them on a regular basis. Although I’ll be focusing on Hashimoto’s the next few weeks due to my book release, a lot of the information discussed will also benefit those who have Graves’ Disease.
For those who prefer to read rather than watch videos, here is a summary of what I discussed in the video:
I started off by talking about the triad of autoimmunity, which involves 1) a genetic predisposition, 2) an environmental trigger, and 3) an increase in intestinal permeability, which is also known as a leaky gut. I then briefly mentioned a few of the common triggers of Hashimoto’s. Besides food allergens such as gluten and dairy, other common triggers include stress, infections, and environmental toxins. In my upcoming book “Hashimoto’s Triggers” I discuss all of the different triggers in detail, along with how to detect and remove your specific triggers.
Why Is Food A Trigger In Some People?
I then briefly explained the difference between IgE food allergies and IgG food sensitivities. IgE allergies usually elicit an immediate response, whereas food sensitivities don’t always produce symptoms, and when symptoms do appear they can sometimes take place a few days after eating the food you’re sensitive to. I also mentioned how having an IgE allergy or IgG food sensitivity doesn’t necessarily mean this food is a direct trigger of your autoimmune thyroid condition.
For example, some people have an IgE peanut allergy, but this doesn’t mean that this is the trigger in someone with Hashimoto’s. In fact, in all likelihood the person with such an allergy will avoid peanuts. As for food sensitivities, just because you’re sensitive to a certain food also doesn’t mean it’s an autoimmune trigger. For example, I just consulted with someone who has digestive symptoms whenever she eats Brussels sprouts. This doesn’t mean that Brussels sprouts are a direct trigger in her situation, although if she has a sensitivity to Brussels sprouts and continues to eat them, this probably will cause gut inflammation, and thus it would be a good idea to avoid this food.
I briefly spoke about molecular mimicry and food triggers. According to one theory, gliadin has an amino acid sequence that resembles the thyroid gland, which in turn causes the immune system to attack it. And so essentially this is a case of mistaken identity, as the immune system attacks the thyroid gland because it looks like gluten. I do want to add that as of now this is still a theory, although in the research there is a molecular mimicry mechanism involving certain pathogens.
Food Isn’t a Trigger In Everyone
I then spoke about how food isn’t a trigger in everyone with Hashimoto’s, and this is one reason why some people don’t feel better when eliminating common allergens such as gluten. This is also a reason why some people don’t feel better when following an autoimmune Paleo diet. However, I also mentioned how the lack of symptoms when eating certain foods doesn’t mean it’s not a trigger. I discussed how when gluten isn’t a “direct” trigger it can cause a leaky gut. In fact, there is strong evidence that gluten causes a leaky gut in everyone.
I then discussed “direct” triggers vs. “leaky gut” triggers. This is discussed further in my book on Hashimoto’s. I also mentioned how it’s possible to have multiple triggers. In fact, I will add that it’s common to have more than one trigger.
The Problem With Gluten, Dairy, and Corn
I’ve spoken about gluten in numerous other blog posts, and during this presentation I spent a few minutes on this. I started by discussing how many people are sensitive to gluten. I then differentiated between celiac disease and a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. In both cases you ideally want to avoid gluten on a permanent basis, and if you test for gluten, please keep in mind that you need to be eating gluten for the test to be positive. And the reason for this is because if you don’t eat gluten, your body won’t produce antibodies to the proteins of gluten, even if you have a gluten sensitivity. I then reinforced how the research shows that gluten causes a leaky gut in everyone.
Some question whether the problem isn’t with gluten or wheat, but instead is with glyphosate. I dedicated an entire chapter to glyphosate in my book, and while this is a big problem, the truth is that both gluten and glyphosate are problematic. Sure, there might be some cases where someone is reacting more to the glyphosate than the gluten, and vice versa.
Dairy is another common allergen, and it also cross-reacts with gluten. In other words, consuming dairy products can lead to the production of gliadin antibodies. And while some people do fine eating healthier forms of dairy (i.e. raw dairy), this isn’t the case with everyone. In other words, some people have problems with dairy, regardless of the source.
Let’s not forget about corn, as this also is a common allergen, and, like dairy, corn also cross-reacts with gluten. In addition, most corn is genetically modified. There of course are other food allergens, and in my book I discuss food triggers in much greater detail.
Should You Follow An Autoimmune Paleo Diet?
I also have had plenty of articles and blog posts that focused on an autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet. In the video I explained the difference between an AIP diet and a “standard” Paleo diet, and if you want to learn more about this you can either watch the video or read a blog post I wrote entitled “Should Everyone With Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Follow an Autoimmune Paleo Diet?“. But essentially an AIP diet eliminates the most common allergens AND foods that can interfere with gut healing.
As for who should follow an AIP diet, in the video I mentioned two specific categories:
Category #1: Those with an autoimmune condition. This not only includes those with Hashimoto’s, but Graves’ Disease and other autoimmune conditions as well.
Category #2: Anyone who has a leaky gut. As I mentioned earlier when discussing the triad of autoimmunity, everyone with an autoimmune condition has a leaky gut. However, it of course is also possible to have a leaky gut in the absence of an autoimmune condition.
How long should someone with Hashimoto’s (or a different autoimmune condition) follow an AIP diet for? I recommend to follow an AIP diet for at least 30 days, and if someone is thriving after 30 days then it makes sense for them to continue following it for a few additional months. On the other hand, if they don’t feel better and are struggling with the diet then I’m open to them reintroducing some of the excluded foods.
I finished up the video by listing the following action steps you can take:
- Consider avoiding gluten, dairy, and corn
- Avoid refined foods and sugars
- If you want to go a step further, follow an AIP diet for at least 30 days
- Also try to avoid genetically modified foods
- Reminder: a lack of symptoms when eating a certain food doesn’t mean it’s fine to eat that food
- Should you consider food sensitivity testing?
- Many times following an elimination/reintroduction diet can help identify foods you’re reacting to
Most of these are self-explanatory, although if you read through these steps you might wonder what my thoughts are on food sensitivity testing. I’m definitely not opposed to such testing, although I will say that most of my patients don’t obtain this type of testing. And the main reason for this is because false results are common. I usually recommend an elimination diet to my patients, and while I’ve written about both the elimination diet and food sensitivity testing in past blog posts, I go deeper in my book.
That essentially is a summary of the video. Speaking of which, I hope you found this information to be valuable. If so please let me know in the comments below, and if the feedback is positive I’ll try to write a summary with future videos as well. I realize that while some people love watching videos, others prefer reading information, and so I think it would be a good idea to do both. But of course what I think doesn’t matter, as my goal is to serve you, which is why I want to get your opinion.
One thing that was in the video that I didn’t mention here (until now) was the opportunity to get a free chapter of my book, Hashimoto’s Triggers. You can get this chapter by clicking here.