As a specialist in hormone and thyroid health, I often see patients who are struggling with hypothyroidism. One of the most common reasons for this is Hashimoto's disease. This autoimmune disease occurs when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, leading to reduced thyroid function.
In fact, up to 90-95% of all thyroid cases can be traced back to the presence of Hashimoto's disease. So, what exactly is going on inside your body to cause your immune system to attack the thyroid gland?
The exact cause of Hashimoto's is not yet fully understood, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Research suggests that certain viruses, toxins, and stressors can trigger an autoimmune response in genetically susceptible individuals, leading to the development of Hashimoto's disease.
Unfortunately, Hashimoto's is often missed at the doctor's office. When you present symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, or digestive problems, it first indicates issues with thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) levels. As this is easily rebalanced with available drugs, the underlying cause of these symptoms (i.e Hashimoto's) is often overlooked.
Common triggers you need to know
If you suspect you have Hashimoto's, it's important to run the following tests to confirm the diagnosis: thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO), thyroglobulin antibodies (TG Ab), and basophil count (BC). These tests can help to identify the presence of autoimmune antibodies that attack the thyroid gland.
While traditional medicine relies on steroids or hormone suppressors to treat Hashimoto's disease, there are other ways to manage the condition. The key is to identify what is triggering your body's immune system and causing it to attack the thyroid gland. Some common triggers include:
- Gluten intolerance
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Chronic infections
- Environmental toxins
When you identify and address these triggers, you can reduce inflammation and support your immune system, ultimately improving thyroid function and overall health.
Take back control of your health
Even with a Hashimoto’s diagnosis, there are many things you can do TODAY to nourish healing within your body.
- Reducing your stress levels: Chronic stress can trigger inflammation and weaken your immune system, which can exacerbate Hashimoto's symptoms. Practicing stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga can help to lower stress levels and promote relaxation.
- Getting enough sleep: Sleep is essential for overall health and can help to regulate your hormone levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and establish a consistent bedtime routine to help improve the quality of your sleep.
- Exercising regularly: Exercise can help to improve mood, reduce inflammation, and support overall health. Choose activities that you enjoy and aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Avoiding environmental toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, heavy metals, and pollutants can contribute to inflammation and worsen Hashimoto's symptoms. Try to minimize exposure by choosing organic produce, using natural cleaning products, and avoiding processed foods.
- Supporting your gut health: The gut plays a critical role in immune function and can influence autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's. Eating a diet rich in fiber, fermented foods, and probiotics can support a healthy gut microbiome and reduce inflammation.
- Eliminating food sensitivities: Food sensitivities can contribute to inflammation and worsen autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's. Consider working with a healthcare professional to identify and eliminate any food sensitivities from your diet.
- Supporting nutrient status: Nutrient deficiencies can be common in individuals with Hashimoto's and can contribute to symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. Eating a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help to support nutrient status.
- Limiting sugar and processed foods: Sugary and processed foods can contribute to inflammation and worsen Hashimoto's symptoms. Choose whole, minimally processed foods instead and limit added sugars as much as possible.
An autoimmune disease diagnosis can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be the end of the road. By partnering with a healthcare professional who can help you get to the root cause of your symptoms, you can take control of your health and get back on track. Don't let Hashimoto's hold you back - there is hope for a healthier, happier you.