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I have an under-active thyroid and am on medication. Can I still Bant?  Will it affect weight loss? Prof Noakes Answers

I have an under-active thyroid and am on medication.

Can I still Bant?  Will it affect weight loss?

I am not absolutely certain how the so-called “healthy balanced” high carbohydrate diet, rich in cereals and grains, produces hypothyroidism, but I would suspect that it has something to do with an auto-immune response in which your body produces antibodies against some foreign proteins that invade your body as a result of the development of the condition known as “the leaky gut syndrome”.  Dr Alessio Fasano MD from Harvard Medical School is the world’s leading authority on this condition and he has a series of outstanding videos on YouTube explaining his discoveries. In brief, in response to the ingestion of gluten and gliadin in wheat, the gut cells of susceptible individuals secrete the protein Zonulin. That then causes the “leaky gut” as the gap junctions between intestinal cells are opened, potentially allowing the entry of any protein in the gut.  These gap junctions are normally closed and open only to allow the entry of healthy food molecules into the bloodstream. Recall that there are trillions of bacterial cells in our intestines so myriads of potential proteins can gain entry to the bloodstream. Once they gain unlawful access to the bloodstream, they are treated as invading “armies” and the body responds by producing antibodies to repel these enemies. Unfortunately, some of these antibodies may then cross-react with the thyroid gland.  They can then bind to the thyroid hormone secreting cells damaging them and leading to hypothyroidism. That is a modern, simple explanation as I understand it. Note, it may or may not be absolutely correct, but it is one explanation that we cannot ignore.

The way you treat that is to seal up the gut so that it stops leaking proteins into the bloodstream.  The Banting diet, because it is low in refined carbohydrates and wheat, is excellent in helping the gut reseal itself.  Theoretically, if you can seal the gut appropriately then there will be no more protein leakage and you will stop producing antibodies to your thyroid gland and, as a consequence, the thyroid function should improve.

That then is what we currently think.

However, even if you adopt the Banting diet you will need to continue using the medications your doctor prescribes until your thyroid function normalises.

Written by Prof Timothy Noakes OMS

MBChB, MD, DSc, PhD(hc), FACSM, (hon) FFSEM (UK), (hon) FFSEM (Ire)

(April 2019)

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