Gluten and the Thyroid

butterfly
Wondered where I’ve been? I started writing this post well over a year ago, but didn’t have the energy to finish it… Now, though, after a period of enforced rest and nearly a year on medication, I’m feeling a lot better!

***

Well, that was a surprise… and not much fun. I’ve been diagnosed with an overactive thyroid.

Did you know there was a connection between coeliac disease and thyroid problems? It was mentioned to us all those years ago, when coeliac daughter was first diagnosed, and has been tested for annually by daughter’s blood tests – at least, until she was discharged from paediatric care. But I hadn’t really focused on it and in any case, had assumed that since daughter’s coeliac disease was well-managed, her risk was no greater than anyone else’s.

Wrong.

According to Coeliac UK, “people with autoimmune thyroid disease are four to 15 times more likely to have coeliac disease than the general population.” And it works the other way round too… coeliacs are more likely to have thyroid problems than non-coeliacs – about four times more likely, it seems.

The exact connection isn’t known yet, but both are autoimmune conditions, so it is assumed that it must be partly to do with a common genetic predisposition.

Symptoms

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland in your neck, which produces hormones to regulate your metabolism, affecting every system in your body.

  • An underactive thyroid slows down your metabolism, and symptoms include: tiredness, weight gain, constipation, aches, feeling cold, dry skin, lifeless hair, fluid retention, mental slowing, depression, a hoarse voice, heavy menstrual periods, confusion…
  • An overactive thyroid speeds up your metabolism, and symptoms include: restlessness, irritability, tremor, poor sleep, anxiety, tearfulness, weight loss, palpitations, rapid heart rate, sweating, feeling hot, increased thirst, diarrhoea, breathlessness, skin problems, light or infrequent menstrual periods, tiredness, weakness, swollen thyroid gland, eye problems…
  • And of course coeliac disease symptoms include: diarrhoea, steatorrhea, excessive wind, constipation, nausea, vomiting, cramping, bloating, iron/B12/folic acid deficiency, aneaemia, tiredness, headaches, weight loss, mouth ulcers, hair loss, skin rash, tooth enamel problems, osteoporosis, depression, infertility/miscarriages, joint/bone pain, liver abnormalities, clumsiness, numbness/tingling in hands and feet, lack of periods in women, epilepsy, type 1 diabetes, failure to thrive in infants, distended stomach in infants/children…

Charming set of problems, aren’t they? And with a significant overlap…

Should people diagnosed with a thyroid problem give up gluten?

If you’ve been diagnosed with thyroid problems it’s probably worth getting tested for coeliac disease – and certainly if you are still experiencing symptoms that might be related to coeliac disease.

If you have coeliac disease, then going gluten free is the only answer, and in this case a gluten free diet may help manage your thyroid-related symptoms. Anecdotally, people do say that a gluten free diet has helped them with their underactive thyroid symptoms.

Note that if you are experiencing nutritional malabsorption due to coeliac disease, and go gluten-free, that your absorption levels will change – and therefore the levels of thyroid medication needed may also change.

I haven’t found anything to indicate that someone with an overactive thyroid – and no coeliac disease – should go gluten free. I’ll let you know what I find out – and if you have any information, do please share!

(Note: I am not a doctor; if you are having medical problems, you should consult an expert.)

More reading:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2111403/

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/110310p52.shtml

http://www.thyroidmanager.org/

http://elaine-moore.com

http://www.british-thyroid-association.org/

http://www.thyroiduk.org.uk/tuk/index.html

http://www.btf-thyroid.org/

Gluten Free Product Recalls **updated list**

If you’re in the UK, no doubt you’ll be aware by now that various gluten free products have been recalled over the last few days because they’ve been found to contain gluten. (If not, see below).

This is very disappointing – and a bit unnerving!

However, Coeliac UK say that the level of gluten found in the affected products is very low: between 5-80ppm. That is enough to disqualify the items as gluten free under the new rules, but under the old rules, a gluten free product could have had up to 200ppm, so these products would still have counted as gluten free back then.

Nevertheless, it is not good, and does damage the trust that people living free from have in manufactured products.

If you have any of these items in your cupboard, don’t eat them and do take them back to where you bought them for a refund.

All the affected products were made in the same factory; the problem has been identified, and they’re fixing it. Phew!

Coeliac daughter had bought some Sainsbury’s scones; luckily, the best before dates don’t match, so she’s fine, but she’s still uncertain about whether to eat the scones or not. As you know, free from products aren’t cheap!

But, impressively, Sainsbury’s have written to her to let her know about the recall, to ask her to throw the scones away, and to say that they have credited her Nectar account with points to cover the price she paid, as a way of refunding her for the purchase.

Hurrah for Sainsburys! This is a great use for those ever-growing customer databases…

And thanks to Coeliac UK for sending out such a reassuring and explanatory email. In case any of you aren’t members of Coeliac UK, I include the list of affected products below.

***
Asda Chosen by You 2 Free From Garlic & Coriander Naan Breads
best before: 2/7/15; 7/7/15; 9/7/15

Asda Chosen by You 2 Free From Pizza Bases
best before: 26/6/15, 30/6/15

Asda Chosen by You 4 Free From White Pitta Breads
best before 26/6/15, 30/6/15, 2/7/15

Genius Crumpets
best before: 18 June – 26 June 2015

Livwell Garlic Naan
best before: 20 Aug – 28 Aug 2015

Livwell Gluten Free Crumpets
best before: 21 June 2015

Morrisons Free From Pizza Bases
best before 29 May – 4 June 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 6 Syrup Pancakes
best before 12 July – 20 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 2 Garlic & Coriander Naan
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Multiseeded Pitta breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Pizza Base
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom 4 Sultana Scones
best before 29 June – 7 July 2015

Tesco Free From 2 Garlic & Coriander Naan
best before 2 July – 10 July 2015

Tesco Free From 2 Pizza Bases
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Tesco Free From 4 Crumpets
best before 18 June – 25 June

Tesco Free From 4 Pitta Breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Pancakes
best before 26 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Pitta
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Waitrose Gluten Free Scones
best before 7 June – 15 June 2015

*** Additions to the list 10 June ***

Sainsburys freefrom 4 white Pitta breads
best before 25 June – 3 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Chocolate Muffin Cake
best before 12 July – 19 July 2015

Sainsburys freefrom Blueberry Muffins
best before 10 June – 17 June

Tesco Free From 2 Chocolate Brownie Muffins
best before: all codes

Tesco Free From 4 Chocolate flavoured Brownie Cake Bars
best before: all codes

Cookery Classes: Gluten Free Bread and Gluten Free Pastry

braxted-park
Two new gluten free cookery classes, this time with Adriana Rabinovich!

She’s going to be hosting two gluten free cookery courses at Braxted Park at the end of September, one covering bread and the other pastry.

  • Gluten Free Bread: 23 September 2015

    An entire day devoted to the mystery of making your own gluten free bread. Adriana Rabinovich, an expert in gluten free baking, has designed this course to help you achieve fantastic results when making gluten free bread. This comprehensive hands on workshop will include demonstrations on making an everyday gluten free loaf with lots of tips and techniques to inspire you to make your own distinctive loaves at home. You will also make pizza, delicious flat breads, Mexican wraps and crispy breadsticks and a luxurious gluten free brioche. This course is suitable for all levels.

  • Gluten Free Pastry: 24 September 2015

    This new cookery course is a full day devoted to the art of gluten free pastry making. By the end of the day you will not only be making perfect gluten free short crust pastry every time, you will have expanded your gluten free pastry repertoire to include: choux pastry, pate sucree, chocolate pastry and hot water pastry. This course is suitable for all levels.

Each course costs £145, but they’re offering a 10% discount code when booking a place on either course. Use code GLUTEN10 at checkout to take advantage of this great offer.

I am seriously tempted. I’ve met Adriana a few times, and she truly is expert in gluten free baking (you can find out about her Cookbook for Kids book here). She was involved in Beyond Bread, too, and I have every confidence that these courses will be fab.

Found: gluten free treasure at Tesco

Well, what HAVE Tesco been up to?

Having gone through a period of free from doldrums over the last few years, the range of new products available in the Tesco Free From range in the last few weeks has gone up enormously.

This week I spotted:

  • Gluten free iced madeira celebration cakes: big and mini ones
  • A gluten free chocolate celebration cake
  • Finest gluten free carrot cake
  • Finest gluten free victoria sponge
  • Finest gluten free chocolate cake
  • Large gluten free fruit loaf, madeira loaf, and lemon drizzle cake
  • Finest gluten free chocolate ginger cookies, chocolate brownie, and chocolate millionaire cakes

I stood in the aisle and took pictures of the shelves to show coeliac daughter – I did get a few odd looks! And they’re awful photos – I’ve never been good at taking pictures – but you can see how pretty the celebration cakes are.

tesco-iced-celebration-cake

New products we’ve spotted and enjoyed over the last few months:

  • Gluten free strawberry and vanilla ice cream cones – very popular here!
  • The gluten free sweet and savoury party selections
  • Gluten free battered onion rings – onion rings! Who knew we needed these until they were there?
  • The ham hock and cheddar crispbakes, and the cheddar and onion crispbakes – these are delicious, and get shipped off to university for coeliac daughter every so often (no Tesco where she is)
  • Gluten free sweet and sour chicken bites – chinese flavours are rare in the free from world
  • Wholecreations gluten free spiced chicken pizza – this went down very well
  • And the Genius meat pies.

Wow, what a turn-up!

I met with some of the Tesco people a few months ago and they said they had some great stuff in the pipeline. And they were right.

Tesco may be having a bad time in the grand scheme of things, but the people creating new free from products for us are doing great!

But why isn’t there more fanfare? As a regular online shopper, they have my email address. They KNOW that I buy free from all the time. Why no special email to their free from customers? I think they’re missing a trick here.

Gluten Free Breakfasts: Cornflakes and Pains au Chocolat

Gluten free breakfast is something we’ve struggled with over the last couple of decades – but not at the moment!

I’ve mentioned them before but Nestlé’s gluten free honey cornflakes are proving to be a huge success for us. Coeliac daughter (a student living away from home these days) says

“they changed my breakfasts – I have good breakfasts now”

I did challenge what she meant by ‘good’ (Yummy? Healthy? Big?) and she said

“yummy, mostly healthy, and something that will keep me going”

crispie-cakesShe has the honey cornflakes every day for breakfast with milk, orange juice and a banana.

She also has cornflakes again in the evening as a snack…which does explain why every time she comes home, or we visit her, we strip the shelves in our local supermarket of boxes of the honey cornflakes, as she hasn’t found anywhere local to her that stocks them. She must be going through a couple of boxes a week… And no, I’m not worried about her not eating properly, as I know that she cooks a proper meal in the evenings as well!

She also really likes the Genius Pains au Chocolat, which I buy as a special treat for her occasionally: they’ve been very hard to find, and are a bit expensive for a student budget.

The are delicious, though, and truly remarkable – it really isn’t easy to make that kind of pastry, and these are not only gluten free, but also dairy free. No wonder they won the breakfast category, and were runners up in the innovation category of the Free From Foods Awards this year. (We had no idea they were dairy free until then.)

I wish that both these products were more easily available – both easier to find in store, and available in more shops across the country:

  • The honey cornflakes are not shelved with the other gluten free products, and nor are they shelved with other cornflakes (oddly) though the plain ones are. I’ve looked in various Tesco shops and in Sainsburys. It is necessary to play ‘hunt the honey boxes’ a bit, but they are worth looking for
  • And the pains au chocolat are obviously so popular that the shops that do stock them can’t keep them on the shelves. So if you see them, grab them! (Unless you live near us, obviously, in which case please leave them there for us to pick up(!)

The crispie cakes you see in the picture above were made in coeliac daughter’s student flat from Nestlé’s plain gluten free cornflakes. Pretty, aren’t they? She loves to bake, and her cakes get snaffled very quickly by her flatmates – yes, even though they are gluten free!

***
(Both Nestle and Genius sent us samples to try, but we are regular buyers of these products anyway, so our comments aren’t biased by receiving the samples)