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  • Jasmine Blake, MS, HHP

Can the Autoimmune Protocol help Remit AITD?

What is Autoimmune Thyroid Disease?


Autoimmune Thyroid Disease is described as having either Graves' disease or Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Graves' disease is characterized by having too much thyroid hormone, and the body is considered to be in hyperthyroidism. Hashimoto's thyroiditis is characterized by having not enough thyroid hormone, and the body is deemed to be in hypothyroidism. Both conditions have self-tolerance issues, and antibodies are overproducing. Practitioners of conventional medicine that have begun to toggle over to holistic medicine are starting to see that nutrition plays a significant role in treating these two conditions.


Autoimmune Protocol


The autoimmune protocol is also known as the Elimination Diet. It is an extension of the paleolithic diet with the removal of gluten and sugar. [4]. Also, it is known for eliminating any processed or refined foods.[1]. Some clients even have to remove foods that contain lectins, such as beans, nuts, soy, wheat, and nightshades (tomatoes, bell peppers, and eggplant). [3]. While others have a strict specific carbohydrate diet, they have to adhere by (removal of starches like potatoes, beans, and grains). [7].


Elimination Diet and Results


Gluten, grains, dairy, processed meats, refined foods, and sugar have all been topics researched for autoimmune diseases for quite a while now. Autoimmune thyroid disease, in particular, is now being looked into in regards to these sensitivities and the effective management of the disease. Researchers are studying how an Elimination diet may slow the progression of disease and antibodies, and possibly remit the condition. [1;2;6].


Besides knowing personally what elimination of food sensitivities can do for the body, I have come across a few studies that also have logged firm results. Abbot and colleagues (2019), wrote an article reviewing 17 Hashimoto's cases, and have seen positive results while following the autoimmune protocol. [1]. In all 17 cases, thyroid hormones were tested; and in all 17 cases, thyroid hormones showed improvement or thyroid medications were reduced. [1]. So, does food alone treat the disease, or can other conditions help bring on these autoimmune disorders?


More Proof and More Studies


Researchers such as Lerner and colleagues (2017) have also connected celiac disease to thyroid autoimmune diseases. [6]. Writing that patients with celiac disease have a higher probability of getting autoimmune thyroid disease than someone without celiacs. [6]. They also conclude that the reduction of antibodies in this autoimmune condition can decrease by merely eliminating gluten from the diet. [6].


Also, Dolan, Finley, Gasta, and Houseman (2018), researched that a reduction in antibodies and improvement in hormones in Hashimoto's can also be seen in subjects that improve the diet eating more phytonutrient type foods and eliminating other food sensitivities such as soy. [2]. However, there are controversies and case-by-case factors that go into the research of gluten elimination.


Gluten as the Culprit


Gluten elimination, in combination with the exclusion of other food sensitivities, is more effective in the improvement of disease status. [2;5;8]. Tonstad and researchers (2015), have even found that the elimination of animal foods improved Grave's disease status. [8]. Nonetheless, researchers have seen improvement in autoimmune thyroid antibodies by merely eliminating gluten. [5].


Use the Autoimmune Protocol


With all this information in mind, it would only be fair to recommend that clients diagnosed with autoimmune thyroid disease or other diseases that may be combined with autoimmune thyroid disease (such as celiacs); use the autoimmune protocol elimination diet. [1;2;3;4;5][7]. Elimination of gluten, grains, dairy, processed meats, and refined foods such as carbohydrates and sugars, along with a reduction in meats and an increase in vegetables and high phytonutrient foods, should be adhered to. [1;2;3;4;5;7]. Vitamins and minerals could be recommended in combination with elimination techniques, but this should be on a case by case basis; by using appropriate micronutrient tests to identify the need for such micronutrients.

References:

  1. Abbott, R. D., Sadowski, A., & Alt, A. G. (2019). Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet as Part of a Multi-disciplinary, Supported Lifestyle Intervention for Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. Cureus, 11(4), e4556. doi:10.7759/cureus.4556

  2. Dolan, K., Finley, H., Gasta, M., & Houseman, S. (2018). Managing Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Through Personalized Care: A Case Report. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 24(3):56-61. 

  3. Freed D. L. (1999). Do dietary lectins cause disease?. BMJ (Clinical research ed.), 318(7190), 1023–1024. doi:10.1136/bmj.318.7190.1023

  4. Konijeti, G. G., Kim, N., Lewis, J. D., Groven, S., Chandrasekaran, A., Grandhe, S., … Torkamani, A. (2017). Efficacy of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Inflammatory bowel diseases, 23(11), 2054–2060. doi:10.1097/MIB.0000000000001221

  5. Krysiak., R, Szkróbka., W, Okopień., B. (2019). The Effect of Gluten-Free Diet on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Drug-Naïve Women with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: A Pilot Study. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 127(7):417-422. doi: 10.1055/a-0653-7108. Epub 2018 Jul 30.

  6. Lerner, A., Jeremias, P., & Matthias, T. (2017). Gut-thyroid axis and celiac disease. Endocrine connections, 6(4), R52–R58. doi:10.1530/EC-17-0021

  7. Nazarenkov, N., Seeger, K., Beeken, L., Ananthakrishnan, A. N., Khalili, H., Lewis, J. D., & Konijeti, G. G. (2019). Implementing Dietary Modifications and Assessing Nutritional Adequacy of Diets for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 15(3), 133–144.

  8. Tonstad, S., Nathan, E., Oda, K., & Fraser, G. E. (2015). Prevalence of hyperthyroidism according to type of vegetarian diet. Public health nutrition, 18(8), 1482–1487. doi:10.1017/S1368980014002183

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