What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

What is Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Hypothyroidism

Hashimoto’s disease, a cause of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function), is actually an autoimmune disorder. In this condition, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to reduced production of essential thyroid hormones.

Hashimoto’s affects between 1-5% of the population and is diagnosed through blood tests that detect antibodies against the thyroid gland, specifically thyroid peroxidase antibody and anti-thyroglobulin.  Often thyroid screening includes only TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) or TSH and T4 (the mostly inactive form of thyroid hormone).  When TSH or T4 levels are abnormal, it’s essential to follow up with antibody tests to pinpoint the cause of thyroid dysfunction.

Hashimoto’s Treatment

Treatment for Hashimoto’s typically involves a prescription for synthetic thyroid hormone, as determined by a doctor. However, there are numerous lifestyle changes that can positively influence your immune response if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. One of the most impactful changes is dietary.

While approximately 1% of the general population is diagnosed with Celiac Disease, this figure rises to 5% among those with Hashimoto’s. This correlation has spurred scientific investigation into the potential link between the two conditions. Some evidence suggests that the gliadin protein in gluten and the thyroid hormone are similar enough that the immune system targets both in cases of autoimmunity.

Anti-Inflammatory Diet for Hashimoto’s

There is substantial evidence that following an anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet benefits individuals with Hashimoto’s. Most importantly, ensure your daily diet is rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Antioxidant-rich foods include colorful fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, strawberries, beets, carrots and sweet potatoes.  Fatty fish like salmon, sardines and  mackeral are high in omega-3s.

Beneficial nutrients for thyroid health include selenium, zinc, iodine, and magnesium.

A few Brazil nuts a day can provide sufficient selenium.  A handful of pumpkin seeds provide a good amount of zinc.  Using iodized salt in cooking generally covers iodine needs, and magnesium can be found in foods such as spinach, avocado, and almonds.  Note that if you decide to supplement with magnesium, always start with small amounts to avoid causing loose stools.

Managing Hashimoto’s

Gut health is another critical factor in managing Hashimoto’s. Minimizing inflammatory foods, such as those high in sugar and alcohol, and practicing mindful eating—such as sitting at a table without distractions—can significantly improve gut health.

Exercise and stress reduction are also crucial components in managing Hashimoto’s. A weekly walk in nature can be highly beneficial.  Enjoying a bike ride or taking a yoga class are also good options!

While taking replacement thyroid hormone is necessary with Hashimotos, calming your immune system through a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, and adequate rest can greatly support overall health and well-being.

Looking for a partner in your thyroid health management? Get in touch with our office staff to book an appointment or a free consultation with one of our expert naturopathic doctors.

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Dr. Jennifer Potter ND

Dr. Jennifer Potter, ND
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose
408-356-1364

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