Have you noticed your hair is thinning, you’re perpetually exhausted, your face is puffy, and you can’t stand going out in the cold? These are all signs that you might be experiencing hypothyroidism, specifically Hashimoto’s disease.
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, in which your antibodies attack healthy thyroid tissue and hamper the function of your thyroid gland. When your thyroid gland isn’t producing an adequate amount of certain hormones, you can start experiencing a host of unwanted symptoms, including:
- Weight gain
- Sensitivity to cold
- Brain fog
- Constipation and bloating
- Dry skin
- Depression and/or anxiety
Hashimoto’s disease is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, responsible for approximately 90 to 95% of cases in the United States. Luckily, when you work with one of our functional medicine or holistic practitioners, you can implement several changes to your diet and lifestyle to naturally improve your thyroid function and combat the root cause of Hashimoto’s disease. Here are four natural things you can try:
1. Change Your Diet
Dr. Jerry Gore, MD, a holistic general medicine practitioner and psychiatrist at the Center for Holistic Medicine, recommends a diet free of white sugar and trans fats. Patients experiencing the draining effects of Hashimoto’s disease may turn to sugar and caffeine to counteract their fatigue, but this will only exacerbate the issue. “It’s important to practice good nutrition and get rid of anything that will cause inflammation or anything that will cause the body to make antibodies for the thyroid,” Dr. Gore says.
Going gluten- and dairy-free has also been shown to improve the lives of people with Hashimoto’s disease. The connection between gluten and thyroid disorders is well established. The protein portion of gluten, called gliadin, has a molecular structure that is almost identical to that of the thyroid gland, and the same reaction that prompts their body to attack the cells of the thyroid also occurs when gluten is in the body because the body thinks it’s thyroid gland tissue. So eliminating gluten from your diet removes the possibility that your system is attacking the gluten proteins in your bloodstream in addition to your thyroid gland.
So what foods can you eat? Dr. Gore recommends incorporating foods with good fats — such as avocado, fish, nuts, flax seed, olive oil, and coconut oil — and adding protein to your diet in the form of grass-fed meats and eggs. And, of course, try to eat as many nutrient-dense vegetables as you can.
Also, Dr. Gore recommends eliminating foods from your diet that you already know cause a negative reaction. When your body detects inflammatory foods it dislikes, your autoimmune system will be sent into overdrive, which further aggravates your symptoms.
2. Check Your Gut
As Hippocrates once famously said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Testing your gastrointestinal function is a crucial step to ensure your gut is healthy and not contributing to your Hashimoto’s disease.
“It’s important to ensure patients have the right probiotics onboard and that they are not harboring any infections they didn’t previously know about,” says Dr. Gore.
Normally, your thyroid gland produces a thyroid hormone called T4. Most of it must be converted to T3, a more biologically active form of the hormone, for proper thyroid health, and 20% of this conversion takes place in your gut. If your gut microbiome has been damaged, this process may be disrupted. Building back your gut microbiome with the correct probiotics is a common natural treatment for Hashimoto’s disease.
3. Take Natural Supplements
Your adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones are connected, and most people who suffer from Hashimoto’s disease often experience adrenal fatigue.
If you come into the Center with Hashimoto’s disease, you will be tested for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, which can detect naturally low levels of vitamins, such as the B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C in your body that help support your adrenals.
Then, once your levels are determined, your doctor may recommend you take supplements to get your adrenal hormones and thyroid hormones working properly. “For people with Hashimoto’s, zinc and selenium and iodine are really important supplements,” Dr. Gore says.
4. Reduce Your Stress
“Stressful lives can cause major problems” for people suffering from hypothyroidism, notes Dr. Gore. At the Center for Holistic Medicine, new patients with symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease are taught stress-reduction techniques like mindfulness and breathing exercises to help reduce cortisol and keep your stress under control.
Dr. Gore offers a salivary test to measure adrenal cortisols and takes a thorough history to get a good handle on the stress and lifestyle factors of Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Gore also may recommend that people take natural supplements like amino acids and vitamins to naturally fight both anxiety and depression.
Are you ready to take control of your Hashimoto’s disease? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Gore or another functional medicine practitioner to assess your symptoms and form an action plan to treat your hypothyroidism with holistic, natural methods.