I am hearing more and more people talking about their recent diagnosis with Hashimoto’s disease. It is becoming a more prevalent disorder that many are experiencing and a majority of those people I come across are women.
What is Hashimoto’s disease?
It is technically an autoimmune disorder. Many people confuse autoimmune disorders with a virus, parasite, bacteria or other foreign matter that enters the body and causes you to become sick. Autoimmune disorders are quite the opposite, as your own body can be confused and begin to attack itself seeing different parts of the body as the “enemy.”
This is exactly what happens with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis… the immune system cells attack the thyroid gland thinking there is a malfunction, instead of protecting the tissue as it should.
As a holistic nutritionist, my focus will always be on teaching and educating on how whole foods can benefit the body, how they can help nourish the body, and how they truly begin to help aid in the reversal of many sicknesses, illnesses and ailments. I believe there is knowledge in understanding what type of real, pure and whole foods should be eaten to help a body thrive, and what synthetic, genetically made and unnatural foods should be avoided to remain healthy.
With the appropriate elimination of some of the foods I will list below, and with supplementing with some powerful whole foods and herbs/vitamins…I feel there are some incredible changes and reversal that can be done with this disease.
Here are some nutritional hacks to consider and try if you have Hashimoto’s or know someone that is currently diagnosed with this.
Foods to eliminate:
SOY – most soy products in our country are GMO’s (genetically modified organisms). Most soy milks, soy protein formulas, and soy protein in ice creams, protein bars, etc. are not a pure source of natural fermented soy, so it should be eliminated. The exception to this would be fermented soy foods like Miso, Natto, organic Tofu and organic, non-GMO edamame beans.
GLUTEN – gluten is the protein found in wheat and other grains that can be considered a high sensitivity ingredient for not just people with Celiac disease, but to a lot of the general population. It is not a health food and is best to avoid in general as much as possible. However, with Hashimoto’s it can be more of a severe threat as the gluten can pass through the gut lining and seep into the blood stream. The immune system will tag the “invader” (gluten) with antibodies with the purpose to destroy. Our main concern here is that the immune system can mistake the thyroid for gluten, causing the attack.
DAIRY – I know, most people freak out when you tell them to eliminate dairy from their diet, but the truth is cow dairy is NOT a nutritional food and is actually more destructive to our bodies than most people know. Cow dairy is one of the top food allergens when conducting an IGG test, (immunoglobin antibody test) which simply means watching how food affects the body after a delayed response in time. (not immediate). There are certain proteins in cow’s milk that are different than the proteins found in human milk. A person with gut permeability, which is usually the case for most people suffering from an autoimmune disorder is likely to recognize these proteins as a foreign invader and make antibodies to the proteins. Cow dairy also causes more issues with mucus production, sinus issues and overall allergies. The quality of our countries cow dairy is not what it used to be and is filled with growth hormones, antibiotics and steroids that are given to cows to treat illness and keep them profitable. It is not the only means on how to get calcium and healthy fats into out diet, despite what big food companies try to convey through advertising and media messaging. You can replace with goat or sheep milk if you want “dairy” products.
CAFFEINE – It’s best to at least LIMIT caffeine intake if eliminating it all together causes panic. Caffeine should be limited in those with Hashimoto’s as it stimulates the adrenals to release more cortisol, our stress hormone. This is why most experience the temporary high of the burst of energy that coffee provides. Why is this crucial for those with Hashimoto’s?
We do not need to be exhausting our adrenal glands, which is what coffee can do in the long-term, which then can create more issues and side effects with the disease and how the body slips into unexplained weight gain, fatigue, sleep issues and more. Drinking high amounts of caffeine while experiencing adrenal fatigue will only add fuel to the fire in most people with Hashimoto’s. Most importantly, caffeine can impact the conversion of T4 to T3 thyroid hormones by understanding that coffee can contribute to estrogen dominance and this can sometimes inhibit the conversion.
Foods and supplements to add:
Alright, now the elimination hacks have been stated…let’s chat about the “goods” that should be added in to help the body with those experiencing Hashimoto’s.
SELENIUM – helps convert T4 (thyroxine) to active T3 (Triiodothyronine). These are important hormones produced by the thyroid gland and we need to keep them healthy and working properly. Selenium can help aid with this conversion, so try incorporating foods that contain higher amounts of Selenium like:
Seaweed or kelp, and brazil nuts. You can find “seaweed snacks” on Amazon or thrivmarket.com if you choose not to consume a lot of seaweed in sushi or sea vegetables. Try adding in a handful of brazil nuts to your day as they contain up to 95 mcg of selenium per nut. You can eat a few each day as a snack or chop them up and add to a salad or oatmeal.
ASHWAGANDHA – a medicinal herb that is considered an adaptogen in how it helps the immune system with stress. Ashwagandha calms the adrenal glands and can reduce cortisol levels and blood sugar while also helping to reduce stress and anxiety. The herb is also known to reduce inflammation and decrease markers of inflammation, like the C-reactive protein that is linked to increased heart disease. Why is Ashwagandha important for Hashimoto’s? Because it calms the adrenals and supports the immune system function which is where we need to target since the immune system is what is mistakenly targeting the thyroid as the enemy.
RHODIOLA – a medicinal herb that aids in energy, endurance, strength, and mental capacity. It is also an adaptogen like Ashwagandha helping to protect against environmental stress.
GHEE BUTTER – a healthy fat that is actually a much better option than traditional dairy as the casein protein is skimmed out, making it a great option for those with lactose intolerance or dairy sensitivities. The healthy fats in Ghee are essential to a healthy endocrine system, which plays into the big picture with Hashimoto’s as well. The endocrine system needs to be strong and healthy to be able to produce healthy thyroid hormones, with a healthy functioning immune system. Ghee also contains Butyric Acid which helps the gut digest foods, so it’s friendly for those with gut issues and autoimmune diseases that should refrain away from processed oils of any kind.
DARK BERRIES, GARLIC, ORGANIC OLIVE OIL – foods high in antioxidants with healing properties as well as anti-fungal and detoxification benefits as well.
VITAMIN D3 – Researchers have associated a Vitamin D deficiency with higher antibodies in autoimmune thyroid patients. Most of us are lacking enough Vitamin D3 in our diet since we naturally convert the hormone, D3 through our skin when exposed to sunlight. We are often lacking enough throughout the year outside of summer months. Vitamin D2 is a synthetic version of Vitamin D and is often fortified and added into our foods, so it is not the form most needed. It is best to get lab tested for levels of D3, and the optimal range (not normal range) is within 50-70 ng/mL. If you are deficient, a good rule of thumb on how to supplement is to give 35IU’s per pound of body weight for possibly 6-8 weeks and then retest again.
VITAMIN B12 – Most individuals with Hashimoto’s will be deficient in many of the “B” vitamins, particularly in B12. Vitamin B12 is an essential water-soluble vitamin found in animal proteins like fish, eggs, meat, etc. B12 is needed for cell reproduction, growth and protein synthesis so it’s imperative to get this vitamin into our bodies. One of the most important aspects to understand with B12 and Hashimoto’s is the tie to pernicious anemia. The immune system attacks intrinsic factor, a protein in the gut that is required for B12 absorption and can lead to numerous issues from there including intestinal bacterial overgrowth, also known as SIBO, which is present in up to 50% of those with Hashimoto’s. For more info, check out http://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/b12-thyroid/ on the topic of Vitamin B12 and Hashimoto’s.
Other deficiencies to test for and check levels would be: Iron, Vitamin A, E, potassium, Iodine and Zinc. These are all nutrients that most people with Hashimoto’s will likely be deficient in because of the impairment with gut and immune system function. Checking these levels out through lab work is highly recommended so that corrections can be made and all vitamins and nutrients can be at optimal levels to help the body if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s.
Wishing you well on your journey through this autoimmune disorder, and sending you prayers and hope as you navigate through this journey that can be beat in my opinion!