By Richard Anderson
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition which results in an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). This occurs when the body produces proteins called antibodies that attack the normal thyroid cells thereby causing damage to the tissue of the gland.
The thyroid is responsible for various processes such as regulating the rate and rhythm of the heart, body temperature control, metabolism of energy stores and digestion.
Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, and thus Hashimoto’s disease, may include a slow heartbeat, feeling cold, constipation, weight gain, puffy face, dry and thinning hair, brittle nails, fatigue, memory loss, depression, muscle aches and arthritis.
The following aspects will focus on factors that can positively and negatively affect Hashimoto’s disease.
Patients who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease will be prescribed thyroid replacement hormones. It’s imperative that these supplements are taken as prescribed in order to normalize thyroid function.
Foods that may be consumed include egg whites, fruit and vegetables, non-iodized salt, clear sodas, tea or coffee made from distilled water, non-dairy creamer and Kosher salt. Nutrient-packed foods such as organic meats and bone broth help to heal the gut and are therefore suggested. Wild –caught fatty fish contain anti-inflammatory omega-3 oils which are also beneficial.
Removing gluten and grain foods from the diet will help to prevent any possible autoimmune reactions affecting the small intestine. This can be done for 90 days and then one can proceed to following a gluten-free diet over the long-term. Gluten allergies can result in increased immune reactivity that can indirectly affect the thyroid gland.
Selenium supplementation is very important in patients with Hashimoto’s disease. This trace element helps to regulate the T3 and T4 hormones in the body.
Probiotics are suggested as they help to support the gut and improve the immune system to avoid inflammation in the organ.
90 percent of patients with Hashimoto’s disease have a vitamin D deficiency. It’s therefore suggested that patients spend 15 to 20 minutes with their bare skin exposed to the sun every day, with an adequate sunscreen applied to the skin, in order to help the body convert vitamin D. If this is insufficient, then patients should speak to their doctors about being prescribed vitamin D supplements.
Hashimoto’s disease can affect glucose (sugar) levels in the body. It’s important then that these patients should avoid high-sugar containing, refined and processed products in order to prevent developing type 2 diabetes.
Regular exercise and incorporating deep breathing exercises and other relaxation therapies help to reduce stress and anxiety. This helps to reduce the pressure on the immune system and therefore inflammation and antibody production is decreased, which is beneficial for the thyroid gland.
Patients with Hashimoto’s disease should avoid foods such as iodized and salty foods (unless they are already using selenium supplements), all dairy foods, egg yolks, margarine, shellfish (due to high iodine levels), cured and prepared meats (corned beef, sausage, bacon), turkey or chicken with injected additives, soy products, dried fruit, canned vegetables, molasses, chocolate, seaweed and FD&C red dye #3 (found in products with brown or red color to them, including colas).
Patients with Hashimoto’s disease should avoid using medications such as iron supplements, multivitamins containing iron cholestyramine, sucralfate, aluminum hydroxide (found in antacids) and calcium supplements together with their thyroid supplements. In this case, patients should take the mentioned medication 4 hours before or after using their thyroid supplements to avoid any potential drug interactions.
Smoking, alcohol intake and the use of illicit drugs should be avoided.
Patients with Hashimoto’s disease should not be passive bystanders when it comes to this condition. They should use the information in this article to ask their primary care doctors any relevant questions which they may have.