Hashimoto’s disease is named after Hakuro Hashimoto, a Japanese surgeon working in Berlin, Germany who first described the disorder in 1912. It is an autoimmune disorder that destroys thyroid tissue, rather than a thyroid disorder. It is the most common cause of hypothyroidism; however, many doctors do not test for it. In fact, it often goes misdiagnosed because a person with Hashimoto’s can show a normal TSH on blood tests.
Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) is an enzyme in the thyroid responsible for thyroid hormone production. A test for TPO is the most important because Hashimoto’s most commonly occurs when the immune system attacks TPO. Thyroglobulin antibodies (TGB) is produced in the thyroid and is used by the gland to produce thyroid horomes. People with Hashimoto’s are at increased risk of developing other autoimmune disorders.
What are the Symptoms?
- Weakness and fatigue
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Muscle or joint aches
- Memory loss
- Decreased sex drive
What are the Causes?
- Estrogen fluctuations after pregnancy
- Gluten intolerance
- Insulin resistance
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
- Vitamin D deficiency
- Epstein Barre
- Lyme Disease
- Mold infections
- Poor digestion
- Environmental toxins
- Heavy metal toxicity
Multiple studies link gluten intolerance to Hashimoto’s. The molecular structure of gluten actually resembles that of the thyroid gland; the body mistakes gluten for thyroid tissue, and mounts an attack, or inflammatory response. When gluten slips into the bloodstream (where it doesn’t belong- it arrives there via “leaky gut,” or permeable intestinal walls) the immune system reacts by destroying it for removal. Current research has shown that 43 percent of Americans are genetically predisposed to celiac disease; gluten intolerance is now believed to be found in 81 percent of Americans.
In addition to gluten, corn and soy can also provoke immune responses. Certain foods have been found to create a “cross-reaction” effect on some individuals with Hashimoto’s. The body mistakes these items for gluten and creates an inflammatory response. Common offenders: chocolate, coffee and cow dairy (raw and pasteurized). 4 Try removing these items for a minimum of two weeks and then add them back one at a time (allow 3 days between each new food) to see if you have a reaction to any of them. Reactions include skin rashes, digestive issues and heart palpitations.
We approach Hashimoto’s by focusing on digestion and immunity. Your digestive tract comprises 70-80 percent of your immune system. This is why eliminating gluten and dairy — and creating a whole foods diet that focuses on keeping blood sugar level — will yield the best results. The environment in your body has to support an autoimmune flare-up; therefore, if you keep your digestion healthy and your immunity high, it prevents the flare from occurring in the first place. Gluten intolerance affects not only the gut, but also can cause inflammation in the respiratory tract, joints, brain and skin.
Eat at regular intervals, and never skip a protein-rich breakfast. Digestion-enhancing foods include fermented items such as kefir, sauerkraut and yogurt. For optimal immunity-boosting, obtain Omega-3 fatty acids from pastured animals and wild-caught salmon. Obtain dairy products that are goat-based. Vitamin-D rich foods include pastured eggs and grass-fed organ meats. Foods high in vitamin A include kale, spinach, dandelion greens, carrots, collard greens, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes. Cook with organic virgin coconut oil and olive oil as much as possible. Avoid processed foods, sugars, and hydrogenated fats and oils. A high carbohydrate diet causes insulin to spike, and stimulates the overproduction of B-cells. Only drink water that has been filtered.
Stress looms large when looking at the components making up an autoimmune disease. Damaging effects from stress can thin the barriers of the brain, lung and gut. Your thyroid function is closely linked to your adrenal function. Chronic stress equals elevated cortisol, which has a negative impact on thyroid function.
Meditation, yoga and tai chi are all activities proven to help lower stress. Find something that works for you and make it an integral part of your daily life.
Thirty minutes a day of exercise (even a brisk walk) is also key to calming your mind and body and stimulating your thyroid gland, thusly improving its function.
The effectiveness of your program can be confirmed by monitoring cytokines and T and B cell populations through blood tests. They should reach normal levels, and antibody tests should be negative, confirming that the disease is dormant. The focus with supplementation is to support immune function.
*Avoid iodine: Although iodine is vital for thyroid function, in the case of Hashimoto’s disease, iodine stimulates production of TPO which increases TPO antibodies.
Vitamin A is very important for thyroid health. Studies in Japanese, Chinese and Croatian patients found that more than 90 percent of people with autoimmune thyroid disease have a genetic defect affecting their ability to process vitamin D. 1,2,3 Higher levels of vitamin D are recommended. EPA and DHA support T-regulatory cells
Crucial for proper digestion and immunity
The adrenal glands require high amounts of vitamin C.
4. Liver DTX
Thyroid hormones affect the liver cells responsible for detoxification; healthy liver function is crucial to converting thyroid hormones into a form useable by the body. A liver detox formula aids in liver cleansing when thyroid function is not optimal. Contact Swanson Health Center for the product we recommend.