Hashimoto Thyroiditis is a chronic auto-immune condition. The body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own thyroid tissues causing damage to the gland which creates inflammation. Eventually this damage causes the under-production of thyroid hormones. This destruction of the thyroid gland is also known as lymphoid infiltration and this leads to varying degrees of fibrosis (thickening) and thyroid enlargement (goitre). It’s this characteristic damage of the thyroid gland in Hashimoto that makes it one of the primary causes of Hypothyroidism.
What is the thyroid gland?
The Thyroid gland is part of the Endocrine System and it is key to the regulation of many of our body’s processes. This bow-tie shaped gland is placed exactly where you can expect a bowtie to fit at the neck, in front of the windpipe. The gland is made up of thyroid tissue and consists of two lobes.
What is an auto-immune condition?
The immune system protects the body from outside organisms that can enter and cause infection. The immune system maintains a healthy body by knowing who to attack and not allow in.
Autoimmune conditions are a “misfiring” of the normal immune responses to outsiders. One could say that the homeostatic actions of the system have become confused and this means that the body ends up attacking its own tissues that it now sees as foreign.
The cause of this misdirection of what’s a normal attack is unknown, there are extensive amounts of research happening now more than ever on immunity and autoimmune conditions. It is postulated, however, that it’s a virus or bacterium that triggers the response or that it’s a genetic disorder.
Let’s take a look at the thyroid hormones and how they affect Hashimoto?
T4 and T3 Thyroid Hormones are vital in the regulation of the body’s processes, they affect for example: your weight, energy levels, internal temperature, skin, hair, nail growth, and more. T3 and T4 work together in many ways. They are regulated by the Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland located in the brain.
Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) is a thyroid enzyme, which plays an important role in the production of thyroid hormones. We check for elevated TPO antibodies in Hashimoto, remember, antibodies fight against something in the body. So, TPO antibodies are directed against the Thyroid Gland and if elevated your practitioner will then look for the result of the Tg antibodies to check for Hashimoto.
You can order a blood test for your thyroid function and levels here.
Who can get Hashimoto?
Hashimoto is more common in women between the ages of 30 and 50. There is a higher likelihood that you can have Hashimoto if there is a family history. A greater risk of developing Hashimoto is if there are other auto-immune conditions like: Diabetes type 1, Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis.
Excessive exposure to radiation is also a risk factor to developing Hashimoto.
Signs and Symptoms of Hashimoto
Your body will work hard to create the necessary thyroid hormones in any way possible in the early stages of Hashimoto, it’s the blood test results showing TPO levels that give a clear indication of what is happening for you. So below are listed the signs and symptoms of Hashimoto in early stages to look out for. Interestingly, with Hashimoto’s, people may experience symptoms of both Hyper and Hypo thyroiditis. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Pale, dry skin
- Slow heart rate
- Chronic fatigue
- Water retention
- Constant weight gain
- Plump and puffy face
- Muscle and joint pain
- Hypersensitivity to cold
- Thickening of the tongue
- Problems with conceiving
- Irregular or heavy menstrual periods
- Swollen neck under the Adam’s apple
- Decreased exercise tolerance, muscle pain
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms listed above, you can get a full Thyroid panel done at an affordable price and from the comfort of your own home, it’s a simple finger prick test and you can apply for that here.
Diet and lifestyle
Diet is an important factor in any auto-immune conditions. An autoimmune protocol must be followed to slow down the destruction of thyroid cells. Here are some points that you can start implements immediately!
Introduce Nutrient dense food:
A wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Daily, you can think about eating the colour of the rainbow, this ensures you are getting a good mix of nutrients vital for health and wellbeing. It has been shown time and time again in studies, that those with a healthy diet and lifestyle (this includes stress levels!) find it much easier to manage auto-immune conditions.
High fibre is important in a healthy weight and digestive system; high fibre is found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes.
Let your protein intake be lean with foods like chicken, turkey, eggs, tofu and beans.
Good fats are vital. Salmon, Mackerel, Anchovies and Sardines are a great source of healthy omega 3.
Vitamins and Minerals:
Selenium – Selenium has shown to reduce antibody levels in Hashimoto. Selenium is a vital mineral for immune health and is essential in thyroid hormone metabolism.
Vitamin D is coming more into the forefront of how necessary it is for our immune health. It’s important to take good quality supplements, my favourite vitamin D is from Nutri Advanced and you can buy it with my practitioner discount on Natural Dispensary website. To get the discount use CODE NDK10.
Vitamin A is important for thyroid health but is often accounted for in our diet. It can be found in vegetables and fruits that possess the orange or dark green colour.
B Complex – B vitamins are directly affect your energy levels, brain function and cell metabolism. In the clinic I see that a good quality B complex supplementation has shown great results with energy levels in Hashimoto. I recommend Viridian’s Coenzyme B Complex supplement, it’s one of the best out there at the moment. Visit the Natural Dispensary website and you can use my practitioner discount code NDK10 for a 10% discount!
Hydration is so important for the body’s processes to carry out in the most optimum way. Keeping and maintaining hydration in Hashimoto will be key in helping with symptoms. You can read my article about hydration here.
Stay away from:
Refined Sugar, Processed foods, trans and saturated fats. These are all major inflammatory foods and best to stay clear anyway, but especially in Hashimoto.
Gluten and dairy. Can be both as irritants common in all auto-immune conditions.
Consulting with a health professional like myself about diet, thyroid health, auto-immunity and test results can give you a clear picture of how the condition is manifesting for you personally. A personalised plan will be made for you to help slow down the progression of this disease. If you need a professional support get in touch with me here.
Written by Nadiya Kondratyeva Nutritional Therapist and Functional Medicine Practitioner. Clinic of Functional Medicine and Nutrition Tunbridge Wells, Rusthall, Kent, UK.