No autoimmune disease is easy to live with, and unfortunately, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is one of them. There are millions of people who are currently dealing with their Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis, wondering what they can do to make their life resemble the one before their diagnosis was ever made.
While it is true that now Hashimoto’s patients will have to learn to live with the new symptoms, not all hope is lost.
Have you heard of the autoimmune paleo diet? Does hearing paleo diet remind you of something that you have heard or perhaps, read somewhere?
With the paleo diet being so popular as it is, the chances are that, yes, you have probably been introduced to this concept so far.
But what we want to introduce all Hashimoto's thyroiditis patients today is the autoimmune paleo diet protocol and the many beneficial effects that this diet promises to deliver for these patients.
What are the symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s disease, or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, is a common autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland.[i] As you probably know, the thyroid gland is an endocrine gland that is located in the front of the neck.
It is responsible for producing and secreting the two vital hormones – thyroxine and triiodothyronine.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, as the term itself suggests, develops as a result of the body attacking its own thyroid gland which ultimately results in a decline in the thyroid function and a decline in the thyroid hormones production.
The cause, or causes, of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, are yet to be found out. Until then, we are left to work with risk factors such as radiation exposure, a family history of Hashimoto’s disease, a presence of another autoimmune disease, etc.[ii]
Since a decline in thyroid function is the primary result of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the symptoms that develop like the ones that reflect a case of hypothyroidism. Among the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are:
- Weight gain
- High cholesterol levels
- Dry, pale skin
- Thinning hair and hair loss
- Infertility issues etc.
The most obvious symptom of them all is the enlargement of the thyroid gland that is happening, due to which the individual can experience difficulties swallowing, a hoarse voice, and a noticeably swollen thyroid.
How is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis treated?
Hashimoto's disease requires regular treatment which is done by taking a thyroid hormone replacement therapy – most commonly levothyroxine.
The synthetic levothyroxine is identical to the thyroxine that is normally produced by the thyroid gland, and that is why it is able to replace the thyroid hormone deficiency that is going on in the body. Patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis require lifelong treatment.[iii]
For patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it is of vital importance to introduce a couple of lifestyle changes in their lives. It is of vital importance to eliminate any unhealthy habits such as excessive drinking and smoking that can contribute to worsening the symptoms. In addition, a good sleep schedule, meditation, and regular physical activity can go a long way as well. But the most important lifestyle changes that these patients are expected and while we are at it, recommended to do, is change their diet.
But what kind of dietary changes should a patient that has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis introduce?
Are there any specific diets that he/she should try out?
What is an autoimmune paleo diet?
The autoimmune paleo diet (AIP) is a specially designed diet protocol for patients who have been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease of any kind, including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis being one of them. [iv]
The AIP aims to reduce the present inflammation in the body, and with that, reduce the present symptoms, improving the patient’s life at the same time.
The AIP is basically a stricter version of the paleo diet itself.
As you may know, the paleo diet is based on eating only the products that were available to our ancestors. These would include fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, natural spices, and natural oils.
So, what would be stricter than this?
The AIP guides the individual to eliminate any food products that may cause additional inflammation in the gut since this diet protocol believes that the autoimmune diseases develop and worsen as a side-effect of an altered intestinal permeability. [v]
Basically, what this protocol says, is that certain foods can cause inflammation in the gut which can aggravate and cause our immune system to overreact and start attacking our tissues and body organs.
So other than the previously mentioned exclusions made with the paleo diet, the AIP also excludes:
- All dairy products
- All oils (except coconut, olive, and avocado oil)
- Whole grains
- Nightshade vegetables (such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes)
- All sugars (except honey)
- And although it does not excuse fruits, it does remind the users to limit their fruit intake to a minimum[vi]
But the AIP does not focus only on eliminating certain food products. It also guides us to introduce more of the nutrient-rich foods that will help maintain us healthy.
Ultimately, it is believed that with the help of AIP, the individual is able to reset his/her immune system, reduce the symptoms of the diagnosed autoimmune disease, and prevent autoimmune diseases from developing in the first place.
What are the beneficial effects of the autoimmune paleo diet for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis?
As we mentioned earlier, it is very important for patients with a diagnosed Hashimoto's thyroiditis to introduce some solid dietary changes in their lives.
In order to maintain their thyroid's health at the optimum level, apart from regularly taking their levothyroxine, patients should try to satisfy their body's daily requirements for iodine, selenium, and zinc. [vii]
One of the ways to do that, other than taking proper supplements for these minerals, is following the autoimmune paleo diet.
The autoimmune paleo diet is commonly referred to as the best diet plan for anyone who is struggling with an autoimmune disease, especially for those of you who have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Some other choices would be a gluten-free diet and either a vegan or a vegetarian diet. But today we want to focus on the multiple beneficial effects of the AIP for the patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
While the traditional paleo diet has been suggested to serve as quite the good diet plan for patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the AIP has shown even further progress for these patients!
It is believed that by implementing the AIP principles, you will be able to reduce symptoms such as joint pain, muscle aches, fatigue, bloating, constipation, and many other symptoms that are commonly linked to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Reducing these symptoms is a dream come true for most patients diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
However, when it comes to following the AIP protocol, you should know a few things.
What should Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients know about following the autoimmune paleo diet protocol?
No two autoimmune diseases are exactly the same, as the patients, themselves, are not the same. The same goes for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients and their cases. No two cases of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are exactly the same.
It is possible for some patients the AIP can be followed as a lifestyle, and for others is meant to be only followed for a short period of times. Some patients are advised to implement the principles of AIP if they or their doctors believe it can help symptoms.
Some patients gain more beneficial effects by following the AIP completely, while some find it better not to exclude all of the previously mentioned foods.
A proper nutritionist or doctor can discuss your case and the potential use of AIP for the purposes of improving your condition and reducing the present symptoms. Together, you can work on the meal plans, decide on food products, and of course, the period of time that will be following the AIP protocol.
Once you do decide to take on the AIP protocol, you might find it a bit stressful to give up on so many food products all at once. You will probably find it frustrating to work with only the allowed food products, and you will as well put extra pressure and stress on yourself.
Stress is one thing that you would want to avoid when dealing with an autoimmune disease as it has been suggested to worsen the present symptoms and cause new to develop.
You can try a fiber-free diet or a vegetarian diet for a couple of weeks before you start your AIP protocol. Once again, your doctor can share some tips on making this transition easier for you.
In conclusion, the autoimmune paleo diet protocol is the number one diet plan recommended for each and every Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patient!
The wonderous effects that this protocol can do for you should not be overlooked. By simply keeping to the most basic food products, you can still prepare delicious meals and act to reduce your symptoms, your flare-ups, and induce a reset to your own immune system.
We recommend all of you Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients out there to approach the idea and concept of the unique autoimmune paleo diet protocol and join in the numerous satisfied individuals who have had their experience with this amazing diet plan before you!
[ii] Zaletel K, Gaberscek S, (2011) Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: From genes to disease, Current Genomics 12(8): 576–588
[iii] Yoo WS, Chung HK, (2016) Recent Advantages in autoimmune thyroid diseases, Endocrinology and Metabolism 31(3): 379–385
[iv] Says, S. (n.d.). Home
[v] Mu Q, Kirby J, Reily CM, Luo XM, (2017) Leaky gut as a danger signal for autoimmune diseases, Frontiers in Immunology 8: 598
[vi] Burgess, L. (n.d.). AIP diet: What is it and what can you eat?
[vii] Liontiris MI, Mazokopakis EE, (2017) A concise review of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) and the importance of iodine, selenium, Vitamin D, and gluten on the autoimmunity and dietary management of HT patients. Points that need more investigation, Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine 20(1):51-56