Dairy and Hashomito’s, Can Dairy Make Hashimoto’s Worse?

Yes, I’m sorry! There is a relationship between dairy and hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Dairy and Hashimoto’s – But I love my dairy!!! What about my bones? Really? This can’t be happening… Yep, this is what I hear… a lot! The fact is that dairy causes immune system responses and inflammation in a lot of people, and it can exacerbate autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s. On top of that, dairy often metabolizes into casomorphine, a
highly addictive compound. Let me help you understand these relationships a little better.

Dairy and Hashimoto’s

A lot of the things that commonly cause problems for us are things we find hard to live without, especially when it comes to Hashimoto’s. One of those things of course is dairy.

People do not realize what problems dairy can cause when dealing with Hashimoto’s, which is why I decided to write this post. Many kinds of dairy products, even ice cream and cheese can cause lots of issues.

Ways in Which Dairy Can Compromise your Health

What is so bad about dairy products? Well, dairy consumption can cause 2 serious problems. The first problem has to do with milk sugars and the second is related to milk proteins. In order to understand why these cause problems, we need to take a closer look.

The Similarities between Gluten and Milk Proteins

If you suffer from Hashimoto’s then going gluten free will certainly help you and you should do it, if you haven’t done it already. You can do more research into gluten and Hashimoto’s yourself because I am not going to focus on that topic here.

The issue with milk proteins is that products that are milk based can cause immune reactions due to the proteins they contain. These proteins that cause problems are whey, casomorphin (protein closely resembling morphine), casein (alpha and beta) and milk butyrophilin.

These proteins resemble gluten proteins fairly closely and because of that they are known as “cross-reactors” and these types of proteins can cause an immune response in the body that is similar to gluten.

Countless people end up damaging their intestines and rob themselves from essential nutrients because they keep consuming these foods. Nobody has advised them not to consume these foods and lots of people are undiagnosed as well. So it is important to be aware of this.

These milk-based foods react to different parts of the immune system; IgG, IgA and IgE reactions.

The Difference Between These Reactions

The IgE part of the immune system is through which the food allergies are mediated. These are known as “true allergies” for medical professionals and doctors because they cause an immediate reaction. There are other types of food reactions that can also occur in the body.

IgG and IgA systems can cause and lead to hypersensitivity and are very often known as “food sensitivity” or “food intolerance”. It is crucial to understand that the mechanics in which they damage the body are very different.

IgG Food Reactions

IgG (Immunoglobulin G) are antibodies that provide long-term resistance to infections and when compared to the traditional IgE allergy, they have a considerably longer half-life. The reactions of IgG are very subtle and very often people live with these for years and even their entire lives without being aware of them.

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There are lots of very general symptoms that are associated with this, such as bloating, fatigue, nausea, headaches but also hyperactivity, seizures, dark circles under the eyes and memory issues. These symptoms and side-effects can occur many hours, and sometimes even days, after the food itself has been ingested.

It is important to take food allergy tests such as those offered by Cyrex Labs because these tests can measure both the IgG and IgA reactions to food. An equivocal or positive finding of the IgG against these foods can show if the person has been exposed repeatedly to food proteins that have been determined foreign by the immune system.

When a person has thyroid autoimmunity, then it matters, because this process can ignite the same parts of the immune system that already attack their own tissue. The hallmarks of Hashimoto’s are in fact antithyroperoxidase antibodies (TPOAb), antithyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb), and mainly the immunoglobulin (Ig) G class.

There are two types of IgG4-positive, IgG4-negative and IgG proteins, according to recent research. What are the exact differences between them are not yet known because more studies are needed to determine this. It can surely mean that this can lead to treatment and clinical ramifications.

Because of the differences of the genetic make up of each person, the severity and degree of these symptoms can vary quite a bit. A significant improvement in the symptoms of Hashimoto’s can occur if complete elimination of the IgG positive foods happens, because this can cause a significant calming of the immunity.

IgA Food Reactions

The IgA food intolerance happens for the most part in the intestines and it is the more severe reaction. For certain genetically predisposed individuals, it is an abnormal reaction of the intestines to specific foods. These types of intolerances can either manifest themselves later in life or in early childhood for some people.

The food intolerance of IgA results in inflammation and irritation of the intestinal tract if a certain food is consumed. This can increase the risk of autoimmune diseases, accelerate aging by increasing intestinal permeability (leaky gut), cancer, and ability to absorb nutrients and cause general damage to the intestines.

The symptoms of IgA food intolerances can also greatly vary: For example they may lead to symptoms such as loose stools, diarrhea, acid reflux, constipation, increased intestinal permeability and malabsorption of the nutrients from food. These symptoms can also be neurological or asymptomatic.

People who suffer from IgA food intolerance can also experience skin rashes, nausea, IBS, respiratory conditions like nasal congestion, asthma, irritability, headache, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, cognitive issues and acne.

“Celic disease” is the most well-known IgA food reaction and as you know “celiac” disease is intolerance to gluten, which is the protein in wheat. Soy protein, egg and dairy protein IgA intolerances are also very common in people who suffer from Hashimoto’s. These types of intolerances can be confused with other types of less severe food absorption syndromes and they may not have a specific name.

The difference Between Dairy Intolerance and Dairy Allergies

People very often tend to confuse and mix up the intolerance of milk that is caused by lactose (milk sugars) and food immune reactions to dairy.

Even small amounts of lactose can have a big effect on the ability to absorb thyroid medication and it is something that people often do not realize. Certain thyroid medications even have lactose in them, which totally defeats the purpose.

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Lactose intolerant Hashimoto’s patients that were taking levothyroxine showed a reduction in TSH after the restriction of lactose, according to a study published in 2014 by Asik and colleagues. This basically means that taking away lactose improved the way levothyroxine was working.

Lactose intolerance can also increase the need for additional thyroid medications, according to a study that was published in August of 2014 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism by Cellini and colleagues.

It was found out from this study that the average individual, suffering from Hashimoto’s needed an average dose of 1.31 mcg/kg/day of levothyroxine in order to achieve the TSH at about 1 mU/L. For a 125-pound person this would be about 75 mcg of levothyroxine. A person with lactose intolerance and Hashimoto’s that continued to take in lactose needed a 1.72 mcg/kg per day to achieve the same target. For the same 125-pound person this would be 100 mcg of levothyroxine and this would be considerably more.

On top of that, an even higher dose was needed to get the target of TSH 2.04 mcg/kg/day (116 mcg for a 125 pound person), who in addition to lactose intolerance had other gut disorders as well. This means that the more gut disorders a person has the higher the dose also needs to be to get the required effect. If you are experiencing your TSH levels going up and down and you find it difficult to control them, then lactose intolerance and dairy protein immune responses should considered very strongly for sure.

Lactose Intolerance in Hashimoto’s sufferers – How common is it?

Lactose intolerance is around 7-20 percent amongst Caucasian people and it is considerable higher amongst people from African and Asian decent. The intolerance of lactose can be permanent and genetic or it can be secondary to other conditions and be therefore reversible.

Asik and colleagues, in a recent 2014 study, tested 83 Hashimoto’s sufferers for the intolerance of lactose and it turned out that 75.9 percent of these people were indeed lactose intolerant. So it can easily be said that lactose intolerance is very common amongst Hashimoto’s sufferers.

A lactose-free diet was recommended for 38 of these people and it was found that over time, the TSH of these patients did indeed drop. This of course means that these individuals were able to absorb the thyroid medication they were using much more effectively.

How Much Problems Can Tiny Amounts of Lactose Cause?

Even small amounts of lactose, that can be found in thyroid medication for example, can cause impaired absorption of thyroid medication for some lactose intolerant people. This means that even very small amounts of lactose found in thyroid medications can in fact undermine their absorption. It is crucial to be aware of this.

For people to feel good and at their best, it is recommended that the TSH should be between 0.5-2 mU/L . There is of course some debate what zone is the best but if you can get your THS to this zone then you have done well. Lots of people are taking elevated dosages of thyroid medications without realizing that thyroid medication absorption may be hindered by lactose intolerance in their diet.

The problem is that many Hashimoto’s patients, maybe even including you, could in fact have both the immune reactions to diary proteins and also have the intolerance of lactose. This is like a hard 1-2 punch for many Hashimoto’s patients. This means that the consumption of dairy products can prevent thyroid hormone from working and wind up autoimmune tissue destruction.

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Should You Give Up Dairy for Good?

A lot of people ca not imagine living without their favorite dairy product such as ice-cream and cheese and this is why a lot of questions are asked about lactate. There is some logic in that for sure but in the long run it does not solve potential problems and long-term damage. The real problem for lots of people is dairy and giving up dairy is the only real solution.

Hashimoto’s sufferers who have gone on a dairy-free diet have seen incredible and very fast improvements in their health. It is something that is strongly recommended by experts and you can try it for a short period of time and see what effects this has.

Lactose Containing Thyroid Medications

There are quite a bit of medications that use lactose as filler and therefore contain lactose and below are some examples:

  • Synthroid
  • Nature-Throid
  • Most generic brands of levothyroxine
  • Euthyrox
  • WP Thyroid
  • Certain compounded medications as well

Thyroid Medications that are Lactose Free:

  • Cytomel
  • Levoxyl
  • Armour Thyroid
  • Tirosint
  • Certain compounded medications can use it as a filler

Tips for Medication

Tirosint has the least amount of fillers, out of all the medications containing T4 that can affect absorption it is meant for people who have these types of intolerances. If you suspect that you might have dairy intolerances and lactose intolerance then this medication is certainly recommended.

Certain people on the other hand do much better with the addition of T3 and WP Thyroid, out of all of the T4/T3 combination medications, has the least amount of fillers that could impair absorption. But this medication does contain trace amounts of lactose.

Lactose is not contained in Armour thyroid but it does contain ingredients that are derived from corn that can be a problem for people who are sensitive to corn because it triggers gluten-like reactions. Some years ago their changed their formula for this medication and added the corn-based filler and people have not done well with this new formula.

Factors that Contribute to Medication Absorption

One really crucial and important research finding is that high levels of TSH can just be caused by disorders of absorption such as atrophic gastritis, H. Pylori infections, lactose intolerance, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease or parasites.

This shows clearly that it is not just a problem of the thyroid and the metabolism of thyroid hormone is dependant on many other bodily systems. For example thyroid patients that required more than 2 mcg/kg/day of levothyroxine with an elevated TSH should be suspected of having these types of various absorption disorders, according to a Polish study by Ruchala and colleagues.

Final words:

The crucial thing is to get off dairy 100% and it should be treated in the same way as gluten is treated. The various health issues and problems this can cause are certainly not worth the occasional ice-cream.

Even small amounts of dairy can greatly affect the immune system and cause a myriad of problems. It is necessary to get used to living dairy-free as soon as possible because it really is for your own benefit and for your own well-being.

Would you like to learn more? Have you seen my presentation on the natural support of Hashimoto’s?  If not, you can watch it here: https://drbradshook.com/autoimmune-hashimotos-thyroid/ If you need help with your thyroid condition and would like to see if Dr. Shook can accept you as a patient, just request an appointment through the form at the bottom of this page. Have a wonderful day!


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About the Author: Tung Chi