Gulp! Is what’s on your fork causing your Hashimoto’s? Could elimination diets reverse Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune diseases?
Any constant symptoms–fatigue, headaches, joint pain–could be a sign of a food sensitivity. Giving your immune system a break from certain foods could mean kissing your awful symptoms goodbye. Plus, eliminating offending fare could also have a positive effect on thyroid antibodies!
Learn how removing key foods for a period of time with an elimination diet can give your immune system a much needed rest. Find out what testing can be done to determine if you have food sensitivities.
Pull up a chair. Let’s dig into the role of food sensitivities and elimination diets in managing thyroid disease.
What is An Elimination Diet?
An elimination-provocation diet is the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities. Foods that are common problems are removed for a minimum of 3-4 weeks. Then, they are reintroduced in a specific manner. Any symptoms that pop up are noted along the way.
Elimination Diets Uncover Food Sensitivities
Elimination diets can help zero-in on specific foods that are causing unpleasant symptoms and contributing to Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases.
How wonderful would it be to be able to whisk away the brain fog, constipation or mood issues just by rearranging your meal plans?!
Curious about the differences between a food allergy and a food sensitivity? Not sure elimination diets reverse Hashimoto’s? You’re in the right place! Let’s first look at Hashimoto’s and food sensitivities.
Food Sensitivities Can Be a Root Cause of Hashimoto’s
Food sensitivities are a common reason someone develops Hashimoto’s. Certain foods cause an inflammatory response in the gastrointestinal tract. This means the nutrients in food can’t be absorbed well.
(Those of us with hypothyroidism want to absorb every drop of selenium and zinc from our foods to help produce thyroid hormone, right?!)
A dramatic reduction of gut symptoms, joint pain can happen by eliminating food sensitivities. Some people can even put Hashimoto’s in remission when they stop eating problem foods. You read that right: elimination diets reverse Hashimoto’s if the food sensitivity is the root cause of their illness.
Food Sensitivities and Leaky Gut
Food sensitivities can lead to leaky gut, a.k.a. intestinal permeability—which is no bueno for the immune system.
Tight junctions that line the intestinal tract become, well, not-so-tight. While these special cells normally let some small particles through, the loosey goosey condition created by intestinal permeability means larger and larger particles get through. Undigested fats, proteins, carbs, from food, bacteria and viruses leak in the bloodstream!
And, the immune system does what it’s supposed to do with any foreign invader trespassing. It signals the proper response. Attack! Attack!
Gluten and dairy look a lot like your body’s own cells. And, while your immune system really does have your best interest at heart, it’s zealous attempts to protect you can mean it can accidentally make antibodies against your own body instead of the offending food. Mayday!
If leaky gut goes on long enough, then the immune system fires less accurately at those sneaky “invaders.” The result? Your thyroid or other tissue gets caught in the crossfire!
Sorry to say, but if you already have Hashimoto’s and haven’t addressed your leaky gut, it could mean additional autoimmune diseases develop. Noooo!
Leaky gut and food sensitivities are nothing to sneeze at.
What’s the Difference Between a Food Sensitivity and Food Allergy?
Food sensitivities and food allergies are caused by different branches of the immune system. The symptoms and onset differ, too.
Food allergies can be life-threatening. Allergy symptoms are usually immediate, within 15-20 minutes, affecting breathing, digestion or the skin. Usually food allergies involve the production of IgE antibodies.
Food sensitivities may be IgG, IgM, IgA and T-cell driven. A blood test may be used to identify food sensitivities.
IgG is thought to create thyroid antibodies in many cases of Hashimoto’s. One of the ways we may be able to reduce antibodies is to get rid of the foods causing those antibodies.
Symptoms of food sensitivities are not as severe as allergies. Adverse food reactions from food sensitivities generally happen within 24 hours. However, it may take up to 3 days.
So that Friday dinner could totally be causing your Monday morning brain fog or headache!
Symptoms of Food Sensitivities
There are a few clues that your body drops to tell you that a food is problematic.
Symptoms of food sensitivities could include:
- Acid reflux
- Joint and muscle pain
- Bloating & gas
- Sinus issues
- Skin issues such as eczema
- Unexpected weight loss or gain
The Result of Eliminating a Food on the Immune System
When we eat food we’re sensitive to on a daily basis, it’s hard to connect our symptoms to the food.
Helping connect the dots from symptom to food
Let’s say you have an unknown sensitivity to dairy. Then, you’re probably not just eating dairy once a day. You may have cream in your coffee, yogurt at breakfast, sour cream and cheese on your taco salad and ice cream after dinner.
Every time we eat a food that is actually a food sensitivity, the body is depleted of its ability to protect itself from the antibody-producing food. The reaction becomes less specific and more chronic. You may begin to feel like you’re just always tired or bloated instead of being able to pinpoint the symptoms after each diary-containing meal.
Once the sensitive food is eliminated for a few weeks, you should feel better. You may notice normal bowel movements, less bloating, and more energy.
Then, when you’re exposed to the food again, the body will produce a stronger, more specific food reaction. This allows you to recognize which foods are a problem and take action.
Can Elimination Diets Reverse Hashimoto’s, Help Other Conditions: A Look at the Scientific Research
Many different health conditions can improve with an elimination diet, according to scientific studies. These include Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune diseases, IBS, migraines and eczema.
Why Do I Have Food Sensitivities?
People often ask what they did to get food sensitivities. Some possible contributing factors could be only receiving formula instead of the immune-boosting colostrum in breast milk as an infant or being exposed to chemicals such as second hand cigarette smoke.
Addressing Food Sensitivities is Extremely Effective
Get this: Addressing food sensitivities can be more powerful than taking supplements!
Let’s say you take all the supplements in the world and eat an in-season, organically grown diet. Guess what? If you still aren’t dealing with your food sensitivities, you’re not going to be able to achieve optimal health. Even seemingly healthy foods may be a problem for you.
How to Do an Elimination Diet in 4 Steps
Plan for the Elimination Diet
You know what they say about failing to plan, right?
Select the proper time
Think about when you want to embark on an elimination diet. Maybe get out the calendar. If you begin around the holidays or a planned vacation, you may find yourself not crossing the finish line.
Changing your eating habits feel overwhelming? Be sure to pick a time when you might not be under as much stress from work or relationships.
Prepare your mind and your kitchen
Wrap your head around exactly what foods you will and will not be eating during the elimination diet. Which foods on the avoid list do you currently eat the most often? How can you substitute allowed foods for ones you must eliminate in favorite recipes? What resources can you gather for meal planning? What allowed foods can you have on hand for moments you feel you need a snack?
Eat up, give away or toss out any food that won’t be on the elimination diet if having them in the house will be a temptation.
If you’re going to be eliminating caffeine, start tapering down on intake in the weeks before the actual elimination diet. For example, start with mixing decaf to your regular morning coffee. Adjust the ratios until you’re drinking completely decaf and then swap it for an allowed beverage such as an earthy herbal tea such as roasted dandelion.
2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods for At Least 3 Weeks
To begin an elimination diet, you’ll need a few free weeks and the ability to change your eating habits. The first step is to remove specific foods that tend to cause inflammation. Along with fast food, junk food and sugar-filled treats, you’ll probably be asked to remove:
- Grains (including corn & rice)
You may also be asked to remove other commonly problematic foods. These could include potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.
Feel lousy the first couple of days of your elimination diet? That’s 100 percent normal. Remember, your body gets used to the foods you eat, take them away and you can have withdrawal symptoms. In fact, don’t be surprised if certain strands of gut bacteria start screaming for sugar. This can lead to headaches, irritability, and other unpleasant symptoms. (Sudden dreams of a Wonka candy land and mindless walks to the pantry could also be a clue.)
3. Reintroduce Foods
When reintroducing foods, you need a system. Be sure you have a way to record what you’re reintroducing and what symptoms you’re noticing.
Keys to Successful Food Reintroduction on an Elimination Diet:
- Only introduce one food at a time
- When you introduce a new food, wait at least 4 days before introducing another food
- Record any symptoms you notice. Shifts in mood count, too!
4. Implement the Data to Create Your Optimal Food Plan
The information gathered from an elimination diet can be helpful to find out your ideal diet. However, sometimes you may want to seek out additional tests to gather more data points.
Alternatives to an Elimination Diet
Giving up favorite foods is oh-so hard! Some people find that seeing test results can push them over the edge to make a tough decision. Psychologically, data on paper may be more convincing.
There are a few options when looking at labs for IgG food sensitivity testing.
- The Great Plains Lab Test: It tests over 90 foods and may shed light on how the body is handling any candida yeast overgrowth. The test does not require a blood draw and can be administered at home. Get the results in 3 about weeks. Contact us for a requisition form.
- Cyrex labs: This test requires a blood draw. It is unique in that it tests foods in cooked and raw forms since the heating process changes the composition of the food’s proteins. Contact us for a requisition form.
- MyMedLab: They offer a 184 or 96 food panel and be ordered online without a doctor’s requisition form.
What to Do with Confusing Data from Food Sensitivity Tests and Elimination Diets
Did you do a blood test and an elimination diet with mixed results? It’s not uncommon. Ultimately, if a piece of paper said it’s okay for you to eat tomatoes, but you know you feel achy and stuffy each time you eat anything containing them, trust your body.
Help! I Can’t Eat Anything!
What if your food sensitivity blood test shows you can only eat 2 foods?! No worries, you’re not doomed to a life of just romaine and artichokes.
These results probably just means you have leaky gut and an overactive immune system. First, we can work on repairing your GI tract with a gut-healing protocol. Then, when we can usually reintroduce foods that shouldn’t cause problems.
My Food Sensitivity Test Says I Can Eat Anything…But I Have Symptoms When I Eat
If your immune system has kinda been working hard for a while now, there is a chance it’s just not healthy enough to make enough of a response to problematic foods. The antibody count might be too low for the test to see.
Can Elimination Diets Reverse Hashimoto’s…Guaranteed?
Sadly, just removing offending foods may not be enough to completely reverse all antibodies. (But, depending on your root cause, it may happen!) Functional medicine doesn’t offer cookie-cutter solutions. While avoiding food sensitivities can keep an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s from getting worse, it might not fully stop the attack on your own tissues. This is where individualized care is key. By looking at your unique health history, we find discover the “why” behind your symptoms. From there, the functional medicine approach involves addressing the root cause and finding ways to support the body in healing. No band-aid, symptom-masking here. Listen to the stories of some of the women who have taken back their health (and their lives) with a functional medicine approach!
Get Resources for Managing Hashimoto’s and Food Sensitivities
Managing Hashimoto’s and food sensitivities can feel overwhelming. Just remember: You don’t have to go about this healing journey solo. After all, there’s a “we” in “wellness,” right?
If something (or everything) doesn’t feel right, then it’s up to you to take action. (Even if your primary care doc has said there’s nothing else to do.) But, it’s not up to you to have all the answers on your own.
Equip yourself with a team. Together, we can reach the destination of optimal health, vitality and wellness. Click here to setup a time to chat with a complimentary Clarity Call. You’re beautiful, valuable and deserve a team to help you find vibrant health again.