That really is the strangest thing. There is a well-known condition called celiac disease where bread gluten destroys the intestinal lining in the gut, preventing the uptake of nutrients. I don't have celiac disease. Yet, I still cannot take bread.
The moment I go back to bread, my body goes into a spiral of cold hands and feet, lowered body temperature and extreme sleepiness. These are all symptoms of an under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism. Of course, there is that possibility of taking thyroid medication. I had chosen not to go that way, preferring to manage the condition through dieting.
Thanks to Mommy T's advice, I've stayed away from foods that are known thyroid depressants - cabbage, turnip, pine nuts, peanuts, soy products etc... Then, Mommy P ventured a guess, "Maybe bread gluten... maybe you should stay away from bread gluten."
So I did. I've cut all these foodstuffs out of my diet. I wasn't sure what was aggravating my condition so I decided to cut out everything, and introduce them back into my diet one by one when I began to feel better.
After 2 months of a low carbohydrate, high protein and high fibre diet, without all the above, I do get better. Of course, I have to exercise religiously too. Then, I begin to feel warm again. Feeling good again, I venture to go back to eating bread. I love bread you see. Of all the foods, bread is the first I re-introduce into my diet. It's hard to stay away from bread because I bake 4 loaves of bread twice a week. The smell of freshly baked bread fills the whole house. When I take the loaves from the oven to lay on the rack, crispy, warm and chewy... it's really hard to not take a small piece.
Twice already, I've yielded to temptation. I've taken a small piece the size of my palm (and I am a small lady with small palms). Each time, that one piece of bread shoves me down the spiral of cold... cold... cold... sleepy... sleepy... sleepy. I once fell asleep standing up at NTUC, staring at bananas... or was it oranges? It then takes me another TWO months to recover.
It was so odd.
In the last week, I've finally been able to rest properly and eat well. Warmth has come back to my body. My brain fog has lifted. I contemplated my loaves of home made bread. How can plain bread be poison? I almost took another piece, my 3rd piece of bread in 6 months... when it occurred to me to google. I found this link. I was sad to find from the write-up that there really is a documented connection between gluten intolerance and thyroid health.
What explains the connection? It’s a case of mistaken identity. The molecular structure of gliadin, the protein portion of gluten, closely resembles that of the thyroid gland. When gliadin breaches the protective barrier of the gut, and enters the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. These antibodies to gliadin also cause the body to attack thyroid tissue. This means if you have AITD and you eat foods containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.
It appears that it can take up to 6 months for the body to recover from one incident of gluten poisoning. I suppose it's something to be grateful for that I recover after 2 months from taking one small piece of bread. So there you have it. No more bread for Petunia... ever.
The good thing is that as time goes by, I learn more and more about hypothyroidism and it becomes less daunting... less scary... less depressing. After all, I am a woman illiterate in Chinese who taught my son Chinese. It just takes a bit of determination and a willingness to learn, right?