In my last post, “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: What Your Doctor Isn’t Telling You,” I explained what Hashimoto’s disease is, how it can throw off your immune system, and some of the health problems it can cause.
Although there is no cure for Hashimoto’s disease, the good news is that you can get it under control with some simple lifestyle changes. Plus, if you can identify what your triggers are, you can actually have normal levels and feel better sooner than you think.
Here are some things I ask my patients to consider:
- Go gluten-free. People with Celiac disease are more likely to have autoimmune thyroid disorders, so if you’re diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, it’s something to consider getting tested for. Antibodies can also destroy the gut lining and cause leaky gut syndrome, which in turn causes inflammation and may lead to Hashimoto’s disease.
An elimination diet, where you avoid all gluten for 4 to 6 weeks, then re-introduce a “clean” source of gluten like Cream of Wheat, may help you figure out if gluten is a trigger.
- Look into your gut. Food sensitivities and food elimination have become quite popular over the years. When it comes down to inflammatory foods like dairy and gluten, it makes sense. But many people have multiple sensitivities more consistent with leaky gut syndrome. Hashimoto’s disease has been linked with a condition called Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth, a condition that compromises the immune system, making people more susceptible to food sensitivities, constipation, malabsorption of nutrients (like zinc, iron and B12), blood sugar imbalance, and stress on the liver.
- Control your blood sugar. People with thyroid disease are more likely to have diabetes as well because when blood sugar levels are high, it can cause the hormone insulin to be imbalanced and put the immune system into a frenzy.
- Detox. Various supplements can help your body detoxify and clean up toxins and oxidative stress that may be affecting your immune system. You can also detoxify by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
- Balance T1 and T2. If you have more of one type of T regulatory cells over another, you can stimulate the weaker one with supplements and foods.
- Don’t worry, be happy. As I tell my patients, happiness helps Hashimoto’s. If you’re stressed out, it will interfere with your brain’s ability to talk to your thyroid. Since stress increases cortisol, the T4 can’t convert to T3 and your cells won’t respond to or be able to utilize it. Stress also weakens the digestive barrier in your gut and your body’s ability to eliminate toxins. So find ways to reduce and manage your stress like deep breathing, meditation, and making time for fun.
- Antioxidants. Inflammation causes free radicals and oxidative stress but antioxidants from a variety of fruits and vegetables or in supplement form can help clean up your immune system.
- Vitamin D. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, and low levels can affect Hashimoto’s disease. What’s more, people with a specific gene mutation cannot utilize it effectively and need a higher dose. Ask your provider to check your levels and supplement if necessary.
- Vitamin A. Vitamin A makes receptors for T3 inside cells.
- Zinc and Selenium. Zinc from food sources or as a supplement can help convert T4 to T3. Zinc also helps support detoxification and overall hormone health. Selenium helps convert T4 to T3. Eat 1 to 2 Brazil nuts a day to get enough.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is a complex disease and one that is managed well under the direct supervision of your provider.