How Gluten, Sugar & Dairy Trigger Flares


Pain. It’s a pain in the arse for many of us.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When we go to the doctor expecting them to help us resolve our “flares” and give us some insight, we usually walk away disappointed and sometimes angry or sad when we don’t get answers. Usually, all we get is a prescription for another useless pill that will trigger a cascade of unwanted side effects.

One of the things I have found along my healing journey is that food can definitely have an impact on our flares. But doctors won’t tell you that, generally speaking, because they either don’t know, don’t care or don’t believe it has any relevance because that’s not what they were taught in medical school. In fact, doctors get very little training in nutrition, believe it or not.

Only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer med students the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education, according to a    2015 report in the Journal of Biomedical Education   .

Only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer med students the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education, according to a 2015 report in the Journal of Biomedical Education.

A US NEWS report revealed that:

“..only 29 percent of U.S. medical schools offer med students the recommended 25 hours of nutrition education, according to a 2015 report in the Journal of Biomedical Education.

A 2016 study in the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health assessed the basic nutritional knowledge of fourth-year medical/osteopathic school graduates entering a pediatric residency program and found that on average, the incoming interns answered only 52 percent of the 18 questions correctly.

So, having learned that over the years, I decided I would read as much as possible about the possible connections between diet and depression, diet and anxiety and diet and pain.

This article by Thyroid Yoga sums up what I’ve found to be true through reading and personal experimentation.

Your results may be different, obviously, but one thing you can do to find out more details is get a DNA test and start there. Self Decode by Self Hacked can help you analyze the data you get from 23 and Me or Ancestry DNA kits.

“Chances are, you or someone you know has been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder—and some experts believe 30 percent of women will develop one in their lifetime.

An autoimmune disorder can throw your gland out of whack, but it's thought that lifestyle factors (like stress or diet) also play a significant role. Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause rapid weight loss, an unusually fast heartbeat, and anxiety, while hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can trigger constipation, mental fogginess, weight gain, and extreme fatigue.

Since being diagnosed with Hashimoto's hypothyroidism, I've learned how to rebalance my thyroid and beat symptoms including brain fog, muscle stiffness, fatigue, and weight gain. Cutting out these eight foods has been crucial to my healing journey. It may seem difficult at first to avoid all of these triggers, so be gentle with yourself and beat by beat, you'll begin to notice a tremendous change in how you feel.”

Read more: Eight Foods a Thyroid Expert Won’t Touch


The majority of thyroid problems are caused by autoimmune disease, which triggers the immune system to produce antibodies that cause the thyroid gland to malfunction. Gluten (a protein found in wheat) mimics the structure of the thyroid gland and weakens it over time as it weighs down the digestive tract and weakens the immune system. It causes massive inflammation in the body in many individuals, especially those with thyroid conditions, and studies have proven that it can cause the immune system to produce antibodies that attack its own organs or tissues.

Removing gluten from your diet should help to improve the health of your thyroid gland, and it may also help reduce your risk of developing another autoimmune disease. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and in many processed foods.

If you're committed to improving your thyroid and overall health this year, read labels carefully and ditch gluten. It may seem like a major burden on eating socially, but once you get the hang of it and stick up for your health, you'll notice a major difference in how you feel, and it will be well worth it!


Like gluten, dairy sensitivity is extremely common in people with thyroid conditions. Dairy products are mucus-forming in many people and are a common cause of irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, and reflux. The protein in dairy has been found to increase inflammation in the thyroid gland and digestive tract. This limits your body's ability to absorb nutrients and heal itself. Dairy can also promote the growth of harmful microbes in your digestive tract such as bad bacteria, yeast, and fungi.

The protein in dairy products is called casein and in many people it worsens autoimmune disease just as much as gluten. When we refer to dairy products we mean cow's milk and foods made from it, such as cheese, ice cream, and yogurt. Your best bet for optimum health—treat dairy like gluten and stay away at all costs!

3. SOY

Most of the soy in the world now comes from genetically modified beans. Soy is very difficult to digest, so even if soybeans supposedly contain a fair amount of protein on paper, you absorb very little of that protein because of the enzyme inhibitors in soybeans. The lectins in soy cause irritation to the gut lining and worsen leaky gut syndrome in people with autoimmune disease. Like some other vegetables, grains, and foods that promote formation of goiter, soy has been shown to interfere with iodine uptake, a key element in thyroid function. Soy may also mimic the activity of the hormone estrogen in your body and can interfere with hormonal and overall thyroid function. To be safe, skip this one.


Sugar raises inflammation in your body and makes all autoimmune diseases worse. Sugar fuels the growth of all sorts of harmful pathogens in your gut and fosters gut infections. If your gut lining is overgrown with harmful microbes, these microbes inflame the lining of your intestines and cause "leaky gut syndrome." This is an initiator and driver of all autoimmune disease, including Hashimoto's and Graves'.

Sugary foods are not only void of nutrition, but they rob your body of vitamin B and create unnecessary stress in the body. The insulin spikes you get from eating sugar cause damage to the thyroid gland, plus, the more you eat it the more you'll crave it! It's a vicious cycle. Once I quit sugar, my energy soared and I felt less hungry all the time.

If you would like to have something sweet, stevia and xylitol are natural sweeteners. Small amounts of raw honey and natural maple syrup are fine in moderation, too.