Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease

There is a distinct link between Celiac Disease and Autoimmune Thyroid Disease. That’s because individuals withautoimmune thyroid disease (either Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease – more on these in a moment) have a greater chance of testing positive for CD.

Research shows as many as 5% of individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease may also have CD. That’s a significant number worth talking about!

To gain an understanding of the CD-Autoimmune Thyroid Disease connection, let’s take an in-depth look at the thyroid and its function in our bodies (We get interactive in this section!). Then let’s touch on symptoms and diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid diseases and their connection to CD. Finally, to tie it all together, let’s find out what science has to say about how a gluten free diet affects autoimmune thyroid disease.

That’s a lot of useful info, so let’s dig in!

The Thyroid and Its Function

Near the Adam’s apple area of the neck, wrapped around the windpipe, the thyroid gland releases hormones to keep our metabolism in check.

{metabolism ~ a complex series of chemical reactions, involving hormones and enzymes, that control the production and use of energy in the body; metabolism also determines the rate at which energy is used. That’s why it comes up so often in discussions about weight gain/loss.}

Now, if it understanding the thyroid and how it works were only that simple.

As with most body systems, the metabolic process is complex. So complex, in fact, the intricate (and important!) details of how our thyroid functions as part of the body’s systems are sometimes left out of these explanations unless you’re reading a medical article.

I know you want the whole story without having to read a (sometimes boring) complicated medical article. I love reading the research, and won’t give you anything less than the complete fact-based story. That means to understand how the thyroid works in our bodies, we need to talk a bit about the endocrine system. Don’t worry… I’m keeping it as simple as possible, and even throwing in a little interactive fun!

{endocrine system ~ the system of glands in our bodies that release hormones into the blood; the glands of the endocrine system are: the hypothalamus, the thyroid, the pituitary, and the pineal.}

First, let’s see where everything’s located, then we’ll find out what each part does!

Location, location, location!
We already know where the thyroid is, so step into the brain with me for a ballpark idea of where our hypothalamushangs out. After that, we’ll venture just outside the brain to “see” our pituitary gland. Once we locate these important endocrine structures, we’ll see how they work together for optimal thyroid function.

Ready to participate for some interactive science fun?!

Place your index finger at the base of your skull (nape of your neck). Now, slide your finger around to the right, keeping it at the level of the nape of your neck. You’ll be nearly in line with (or just below) the center of your ear. Stop when you reach the area just in front of your ear.

Imagine going from that point to the center of the brain. If we could do that, we would see a small structure, about the size of a whole almond. That’s the hypothalamus.

Now, hold that visual. Imagine a pea-sized structure sitting just beneath the hypothalamus in a teeny-tiny cave made of thin bone…that’s the pituitary gland. (The pituitary is not actually a part of the brain, but instead, an extension of the hypothalamus.)

Now that we know where they are, let’s look at what they do

Function, function, function!

You know the thyroid produces several hormones. Two of these, T3 and T4, are vital to getting oxygen into our cells, helping cells produce energy, and telling cells how much energy to use (that’s the metabolism connection).

If these thyroid hormone levels in our blood are too high or too low, the pituitary gland gets involved by producing Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), a type of chemical messenger that signals the thyroid to adjust levels of T3 or T4.

If the pituitary regulates the thyroid, then what regulates the pituitary? You guessed it…the hypothalamus!

The hypothalamus is a small, powerful structure that acts like a mini control center for our endocrine system, signaling various glands in the body to produce (or stop producing) certain hormones.


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