Many know of (and possibly have) hypothyroidism. But what most don’t know is there is an autoimmune form of hypothyroidism called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is currently the leading cause of hypothyroidism but it is frequently underdiagnosed.
You read that right…Hashimoto’s can cause hypothyroidism.
In this blog, we’re going talk a little bit about autoimmune diseases, dive into what Hashimoto’s is, and give you some strategies you can use to help put your Hashimoto’s in remission.
Let’s dive in!
Let’s first chat about autoimmune (AI) diseases. There are currently 24 recognized AI diseases today. There is on-going research indicating there are as many as 100 diseases that are rooted in autoimmune. With 24 recognized diseases, approximately 23.5 million Americans are currently living with an AI disease. Most of this number is represented by women.
An AI disease develops because the body sees the immune system as a threat and begins to attack it. Interestingly, 70-80% of the immune system lies within the intestinal tract. I’ve mentioned this before. It’s there for good reason. It helps to neutralize any critters you might take in by way of the mouth hole. In other words, to stop pathogens that you consumed through food from spreading in the body.
But when you don’t take care of the immune system, inflammation spreads. Each time we activate the immune system, we release pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. Now, these stay within the digestive tract IF the digestive tract is healthy. For many, it’s not. The digestive tract is swollen and damaged from years of processed food and sugar intake. These pro-inflammatory cytokines get into the body and cause chronic inflammation. In conditions like this, AI breeds.
In order for an AI disease to develop, you need 3 things: a genetic link, environmental influences, and a disordered gut. For most, we all have these 3 things.
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis vs Hypothyroidism
Most people know that Hashimoto’s is the AI version of hypothyroid. What most people don’t know is Hashimoto’s is underdiagnosed.
Hypothyroidism occurs when something interferes with the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones. Usually, that’s a lack of thyroid-specific nutrients. The lack of nutrients comes from poor dietary intake and/or poor absorption due to a disordered gut.
Many women will visit their doc complaining of fatigue. The doc will run labs, including TSH. They’ll notice that your TSH is okay but not great and send you on your way. Or, they’ll notice your TSH is high, indicating hypothyroidism, and prescribe you Synthroid or another thyroid medication. What most don’t do is run a few extra tests.
You can have a “normal” TSH and feel like crap. Even when your doctor tells you everything looks great…it’s in your head. It’s not!
Back to the extra tests. These extra tests will tell the basis of your hypothyroidism. Is it rooted in nutrient deficiencies or is it rooted in autoimmune? For most of my clients with altered TSH, I push to have two extra tests ran:
Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)
Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)
These will tell us if there is AI at play. And yes, it’s possible to have Hashimoto’s without having elevated TSH.
Why physicians don’t automatically run these extra tests? I don’t know. The medical treatment for Hashimoto’s is about the same as it is for hypothyroidism. But the nutritional treatment is completely different.
A common therapeutic diet many try when it comes to Hashimoto’s is the autoimmune protocol (AIP). It’s a great diet. I use it in my practice. My approach to it might be slightly different than most.
The AIP is basically a very restrictive paleo style diet. The following foods are excluded from the diet:
Fruit (limited quantities are okay)
You end up with a meat and vegetable-based diet. The premise is to remove anything that’s potentially inflammatory to the body. It’s restrictive but does the trick. Clients I’ve put on this diet have felt much better within the first few weeks. It’s possible to follow this diet as a vegetarian or vegan, it’s slightly harder to do so.
My approach to AIP is to step down. I don’t feel that everyone reacts to the exact same foods or groups of foods. I like to remove one group at a time. While doing so, I use a series of gut healing supplements to help the lining of the digestive tract to repair itself.
Clients usually feel better mentally and physically with this approach. It gives them time to adjust to the lifestyle while starting to make improvements with their health. Now, I have gone the extreme approach in the past. But I’ve grown as a practitioner J
Once your Hashimoto’s is in remission, you can slowly start adding some foods back in to determine what foods are truly inflammatory to your body.
So, the 3 strategies you can take to thrive with Hashimoto’s is:
Demand the extra tests to get a true sense of your health
Heal your gut through dietary changes
Support your health with gut healing supplements
You don’t have to accept you have Hashimoto’s without healing. You can put it into remission.
Have Hashimoto’s or even hypothyroid? Leave a comment letting me know what’s one thing you’re going to do this week to take back your health!