Hashimoto thyroiditis is a condition best described by looking at the thyroid as a potential threat the body seeks to eliminate. It starts making antibodies to destroy its own tissues. This prevents the thyroid from producing adequate levels of hormones to keep the body functioning properly.
Symptoms include fatigue, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, dry skin, digestive issues (constipation), depression, sensitivity to cold, slower heart rate, joint and muscle pain. There is also a greater risk of cardiovascular disease. Thyroid hormones regulate cholesterol levels, hypothyroidism increases LDL cholesterol and more LDL cholesterol lowers the function of the thyroid creating a vicious cycle.
The main treatment consists of regulating the thyroid hormone by means of medication and supplements while adding nutrition, stress elimination techniques, and practices that stimulate the thyroid function and overall health. You can also check out our article on natural remedies for thyroid problems to learn more.
How Does A Proper Diet Work?
Since the thyroid hormone production is affected in Hashimoto disease the metabolism also changes. This means that the current diet will further deepen the symptoms and will no longer work.
The main purposes of proper nutrition are:
• to restore hormonal balance
• to improve thyroid function
• to relieve symptoms
• to stop inflammation
• to support the entire body
• to eliminate stress
Research shows that the main cause of most autoimmune disorders lies in gut health. A compromised gut or leaky gut determines improper nutrient absorption. In order to restore gut health, potential allergens, and inflammatory foods must be eliminated from the diet. Next, the digestive enzymes and healthy bacteria must be restored to help digest the food properly. Supplements may help repair the stomach's line of defense. L-glutamine has been shown to restore gut lining, combined with Omega 3s, licorice, and aloe. The latter also helps in soothing inflammation.
As with any other illness, the first step towards healing is changing one's diet. The food that enters the body is responsible for the main source of nutrients the body gets in order to function properly. Once the body stops receiving the energy needed to feed the cells, tissues, and organs it sends wrong signals that may trigger various disorders. When the body receives the right amount of nutrients, it can focus on correcting the existing imbalance. It is important to get the right vitamins to ensure this.
Some research indicates that adequate nutrition can manage the symptoms and address the main cause of the autoimmune disease. The idea is to encourage gut health so as to absorb more nutrients. Once the body begins to process the food properly, other foods may be reintroduced in the diet, making sure to notice any change and stop at the moment symptoms come back.
Guidelines To Hashimoto Thyroiditis Diet
The diet recommended for Hashimoto thyroiditis focuses mainly on nourishing the thyroid, restoring gut health and eliminating stress.
First of all, to regain control over one's body, processed foods, beverages, toxins, and chemicals must be eliminated. When these foreign substances reach the body, hormone levels are disrupted causing further damage to the thyroid. It may also cause your body's metabolism to slow down.
What To Avoid/Eliminate
Eliminate foods that may cause inflammation: grains, legumes (especially soy), dairy, nuts, seeds, nightshades: tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes (except for sweet potatoes), chilies, eggplants. The high levels of lectins in these plants resist digestion and the saponins stimulate an autoimmune response. Grains and legumes irritate the gut.
Sugars and sweeteners elevate insulin levels and may exacerbate the symptoms. These can be replaced by natural sugar sources such as honey, maple syrup, molasses.
Alcohol should be avoided as well since it feeds negative bacteria allowing them to enter the bloodstream. It's recommended to eliminate any toxins, chemicals, heavily refined and processed foods.
There are studies that have shown gluten intolerance is often associated with Hashimoto thyroiditis so it's best to eliminate it for a while until the body recovers.
Eggs and dairy should be avoided as well. Eggs can cause a leaky gut syndrome and dairy is a very common allergen that can disrupt gut activity since most people develop lactose intolerance.
There are some foods that disrupt the thyroid function. They are called goitrogenic foods, such as cruciferous vegetables - if there is no way around them, in order to neutralize the effects on the thyroid, they must be thoroughly cooked; they also interfere with medication so it's important to consume them at a 2-hour interval from meals. Other goitrogenic foods are bok choy, horseradish, Brussels sprouts, soy, almonds, turnips, pine nuts, millet, tapioca, rutabagas, kale, watercress.
What To Eat
Having eliminated the ingredients that could contribute to worsening the symptoms, the next step is to bring more nutrients to the body so that it can activate the healing process.
A diet rich in lean protein, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats - omega 3s, high fiber foods is key to managing the symptoms of Hashimoto thyroiditis and fighting towards establishing health throughout the entire body. Iodine is very important for healthy thyroid function so be sure to include a lot of this mineral in your diet.
Foods rich in antioxidants will provide vitamins and minerals: berries, grapes, leeks, onions, garlic, pumpkin, carrots, watermelon, pink grapefruit, spinach, red meat, fish, lean meat, seafood, vegetable oils, oregano. These should be included in your daily diet.
Meat sources should be chicken, fish (low mercury content), lamb, turkey and lean cuts of beef. The recommended vegetables include asparagus, zucchini, sweet potatoes, lettuce, leeks, rhubarb, spinach, squash, yams. There is also a wide variety of herbs and spices available that can transform even the most bland of meals: basil, black pepper, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme.
Fermented foods should be part of a daily meal routine since they contain probiotics that make up a healthy gut flora (sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir) provided there are no additives in them.
Coconut is particularly good in thyroid disorders and can be used to replace dairy products and also give a subtle flavor to several dishes. It can be used in its many forms: butter, cream, milk, oil, flakes, yogurt.
The fruit selection must point to those with a low glycemic index, such as apples, cherries, dried apricots, avocados, berries, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, plums, pears, kiwi fruit.
Here is how you can mix and match these foods: fish with carrots, spinach served with coconut yogurt dressing or roasted chicken with herbs, spices, and baked sweet potatoes. Great snack options are sliced vegetables, fruits, cream soups.
To ensure an optimal nutrient intake, appropriate portions are required. The recommendation is to eat 5 meals a day at 3-4 hour intervals. Working with a nutritionist can help determine an adequate nutritional status.
Supplements For Hashimoto Thyroiditis
As far as supplements are concerned, having to deal with a nutrient-depleted body, there is a constant need for vitamins and minerals. L-tyrosine supplements can also help increase the production of thyroid hormones. Fish oil contributes to boosting the immune system, if not sufficient from food intake, then supplement form will do. Vitamin A and D deficiency can have a negative impact on the thyroid function so it is great to include a daily supplement. Thyroid support complexes such as ThyroMate which contains essential vitamins, minerals, and herbs can also help.
Balance is key in activating the body's repair functions. A holistic approach is an ideal solution in autoimmune disorders. Proper medication, supplementation, nutrition, yoga, and all other alternative therapies out there work together to support the body and banish disease. Quality sleep is also part of a healthy balanced diet, as well as the lack of excessive stress. Diet plays a crucial role in the development of Hashimoto thyroiditis influencing symptom management and overall health.