How going gluten-free has helped manage my Hashimoto’s Disease

By Div

I honestly don’t know how many hundreds, if not thousands, of hours I have spent researching how to manage life with Hashimoto’s Disease (you can read about some of my earlier difficulties here). One thing that popped up repeatedly was the infamous gluten.

I won’t go into the numerous details about why gluten is supposedly bad for people with thyroid conditions, but the evidence did overwhelm me. I checked various sources, and decided to start a completely gluten-free diet.

Note: I had actually gone gluten-free upon first being diagnosed with the disorder in January. And, after just three weeks of being on Euthyrox and not eating gluten, my Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone (TSH – helps the thyroid produce two other hormones that control the metabolism) dropped from 15 to five (the maximum should be 4), and my antibody counts dropped significantly as well. Putting this all down to the hormone replacement – you know, since I have a medical degree and everything and am the Queen of self-diagnosing – I decided to go back to gluten. I mean, why would bread and pasta be affecting my health? Especially since I eat them in moderation, just like everyone says!

Pic by: Div A gooey, gluten-free delight! Butter, marshmallows, Sally’s Cocoa Crackles and peanut butter.

My next set of blood tests were done in South Korea…and I was devastated with the results. TSH had shot up to 13 and my antibody levels were through the roof once more. Around this time, Kate and I decided to go forward with our blog, and I felt like I had to write about this experience, this draining, depressing experience.

And I kept researching. Gluten’s detrimental effects kept appearing on thyroid health sites, and it dawned on me. Was I really going to sacrifice my health for a few slices of pizza? Was I honestly that ridiculous? Taking charge of my well-being was my responsibility, no one else’s. With this epiphany came the resolve to stick to a gluten-free lifestyle, and do it without resentment this time.

I have been gluten-free for just over two months now. I had one epic cheat day at a friend’s bachelorette party (there was lasagne and chocolate cake), and I was terribly ill for a few days afterward. Since then, I have been rigid about it. I may come off as fussy and kind of annoying, scrupulously studying the ingredients of things at the supermarket, but I honestly don’t care anymore, especially after my last set of blood results.

Pic by: Div Cauliflower crust pizza – SO YUM!
Pic by: Div Fresh Heather’s delicious gluten-free brownies.

The blood test

I was so nervous about this! All I could think was, I hope the restrictions I’ve placed on myself have been worth it! I entered the doctor’s office with a pounding heart and tingly palms.

I was sitting at the desk, thighs sweating a ridiculous amount, when the doctor said, “TSH is now 0.53”.

My mouth dropped open. “Sorry?!” I said, thinking I’d heard wrong.

“TSH has dropped a lot. It’s 0.53 now.”

At that point, I wanted to jump over the desk and give him a hug. “And the others?” I’d had a myriad of tests done, from Vitamin D3 to Cortisol (stress hormone), and was eager to hear how the rest of my insides were faring. Overall, I am really pleased with my results. From my first test to now, my antibodies have dropped from the 600s to the 300s. That’s still pretty far above normal, but it is definitely an improvement.

The only two results that disappointed me were Ferritin (Iron) and Cortisol.

Some science

Ferritin, from what I understand, is the amount of iron stored in the body. I’ve been on Iron supplements (I take it in the form of ferrous fumarate) for months now, and my Ferritin levels have DROPPED. That really baffled me. And I think that is possibly why my hair continues to fall out. The doctor has put me on another supplement, so hopefully when I see him again I will have better results.

Pic by: Div Supplements galore!
Pic by: Div
Supplements galore!

Cortisol is the stress hormone. It is a vital adrenal hormone, and balances the body’s response to stress. Back in January, my levels were high, but still within the normal range. The endocrinologist suggested I try to decrease those levels, because when they are high – surprise, surprise! – hair-loss is one of the consequences. That being said, low levels of Cortisol are also bad. The key here is balance. Ah, balance. My least favourite B-word.

This time round, the doctor told me that, not only had my Cortisol increased, it was now higher than the normal range. Great. I really need to chill.

I feel like me again

These blood test results have shown me that being gluten-free – while being a massive pain in the arse – has helped. A lot. It can’t be anything else, because that is the only lifestyle change I have made recently. I am optimistic now, and I think knowing that I am healing myself will cut down those cravings for toasted cheese. I have felt great these last few months.

In my post about Hashimoto’s, I was struggling with emotional instability, memory-loss, fatigue and hair loss.

Pic by: Div I FOUND CEREAL! This made me soooo happy.
Pic by: Div
I FOUND CEREAL! This made me soooo happy.

Aside from my hair still adamantly falling out, I have felt a huge change in those other areas. My moods have regulated. I still fly off the handle sometimes and get sad about silly things, but I can now tell myself to calm down. And it works! Hello, control! How I have missed you!

I still set an insane amount of reminders, but I remember SO MUCH MORE. A few weeks ago, I became ecstatically thrilled when I could recall a conversation Adam and I had had a few days previously.

Lastly, the fatigue. I have less energy than I used to pre-Hashimoto’s, but I can now make it through the day with fewer thoughts of napping at noon. I am able to concentrate again, too. I am a bookworm; I always have been. However, I was finding focusing on a book impossible. By the end of July, I had not read a single one other than Harry Potter, and that made me really anxious. Was I losing my greatest passion?! For someone who has always wolfed down books at a rapid rate, this was terrifying. Recently, though, I have been able to sit down and read for an hour or two at a time. I am finally back on track with books!

Pic by: Div With cookies being a no-no, fruit smoothies and mini fruit salads have become my snacks.

IMG_20150714_184515Going gluten-free has been a big change for me. Never before have I watched what I eat, and certainly not with this kind of fervour. My body has shown me that the lifelong commitment I have made is a wise one, and I can only benefit from it.

~The End~

Click here to check out my typical weekly meals 🙂

For any thyroid patients in the Chungnam area and surrounding, 단국대학교병원 (Dankook University Hospital) is a really good hospital. I see a lovely doctor who speaks great English. He is so helpful, and listens to all my concerns and numerous questions.

Let us know in the comments below your experiences with Hashimoto’s or being gluten-free! We love hearing from you 🙂 And check us out on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!


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  1. Yes for me too. Gluten impacts on everyone with an auto immune illness. Keep up being gluten free.


  2. Its nice to find someone like me! I have been gluten free for 3 months now and my antibodies dropped as well but not as impressive as you. I only dropped 45 points but progress is progress. I have to say I miss Oreo cookies like crazy but the gluten free community and options is growing which is great. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Thrive market but you should check it out. They deliver food, supplements and beauty supplies and have tons of gluten-free options at better prices.


    • It’s so nice to find someone in the same boat as me! Like you said, progress is progress. I’m sure your antibodies will lower even further!

      Oh my hat – I also miss Oreos. Also, suddenly things I never even liked look delicious to me. Thrive sounds amazing! Do they deliver internationally? I usually order stuff off iHerb – not cheap, but it’s still amazing! 🙂 Have a great day!


  3. This was great…thank you. My granddaughter has Hashimoto’s and has been off gluten for over a year. It helped immensely. My daughter has Graves Disease. Do you think being gluten free would also be an extreme help for her also (I am also very aware that gluten is truly bad for everyone)? My daughter is on medication but still has issues with tiredness, depression, etc. I would love to be able to convince her that her Graves disease symptoms would be greatly reduced if she gave up gluten. Do you have evidence that this is so for Graves? Thanks for any help.


    • Hi! So glad you enjoyed the piece. And it is good to know being gluten-free helped your granddaughter, as I only eliminated it a few months ago. Looking forward to even more improvement!

      I have no information about gluten and Graves. But my research has told me that gluten is generally not great for us. Sorry I can’t be of any help! I am by no means an expert; a lot of my learning is done by trial and error.


  4. Found out my daughter had Hashimoto’s 7 years ago at age 11. We opted to try dealing with it naturally instead of putting her on meds for the rest of her life. Her auto-antibodies were 1000 when we started a gluten free diet and they were down to 20 six months later. Not having had an obvious allergic reaction to gluten we were told that she should be fine to go back to eating it. Anytime she would get sick, it would shoot her auto-antibodies back up again. We have found that she has done best long term if she is primarily gluten free, eats wild caught salmon at least once a week, takes supplements (mostly use Garden of Life brand), and exercises regularly. I think everyone’s body is different and each person has to figure out what work’s best for them. Best of luck in finding what works for you 🙂


    • Thanks for this 🙂 Is your daughter still managing fine without medication? I would love to go off that silly pill but am afraid of the repercussions.

      I think cutting out gluten is a big step in the healing process…although I really, really, really miss pizza. And Oreos.

      One thing, among many, that I worry about is the weight aspect of Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism. Has your daughter managed to keep her weight stable, or does it fluctuate? Thanks again for reading the post and for commenting 🙂 Have a great day!


      • She is still not on any meds. All the doctors we have seen recommend it though based solely on her TSH which has been anywhere between 3.5 and 7.5, which seems to be higher when she has a cold. Her most recent blood work, a couple weeks ago, showed her TSH at 7.1, but her T4 was within normal range. They were ready to call in the prescription, but my understanding is that if her T4 is normal, then her thyroid is still working. I don’t know about going off the meds. If we had put her on them and wanted to try without them, I probably would want to make sure that the thyroid is still able to function on it’s own. If you’ve been on them awhile, I think it may be difficult to get it working again?

        We do a lot of our own baking with gluten free flours. We still eat pizza and we have found a recipe for oreos 🙂 Glutino makes an awesome oreo if you can find them!

        For the most part her weight stays the same. Everyone in our family is fairly short and we all have a higher muscle mass than most people we know. Our BMI is always higher than what they would like to see, so it’s hard to say if being on meds would have helped her or not. She is a lifeguard and swim instructor, so she gets some exercise. She’s not a very picky eater, so she’s pretty good about eating what she should. We did try the Insanity program for 8 weeks. She felt better and her muscles were more toned, but being that the program is so intense, it was very difficult to keep up long term. We are currently experimenting with different herbs and supplements to see how she feels. She’s noticed she feels better when she’s been in the sun. Where we live, we only get a few months of good sun a year, so one thing we are looking at is Vit D for the off months. Stress, physically and mentally, I think is also another huge factor. There are so many little adjustments we’ve made, not only in our diet, but every aspect of how we live. I think anything you can do towards living a better lifestyle in general can only help.


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