Getting a Hashimoto’s diagnosis can be confusing. You may be wondering what caused it in the first place and if you’ll ever feel like yourself again. You’re not alone. An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of thyroid dysfunction. Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) is the most common form of thyroid dysfunction, and 90% of hypothyroidism patients have Hashimoto’s.
The good news is there is a way to end the constant fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, hair loss, mood swings, constipation, and other symptoms. There are many dietary and environmental causes behind Hashimoto’s, and you can make simple lifestyle changes to overcome it. Most conventional doctors won’t explain or educate you on the lifestyle changes you can make to reverse your condition.
Here are 10 things your endocrinologist won’t tell you about Hashimoto’s.
1. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition, meaning it’s a problem of the immune system.
Despite what your conventional doctor may tell you, Hashimoto’s isn’t actually a problem of your thyroid; it’s a problem of your immune system. The thyroid is the body’s engine, producing hormones that impact every cell in your body. It regulates all of your metabolic functions, from heart rate to temperature to metabolism to your mood. If you have Hashimoto’s, your immune system is malfunctioning and attacking your thyroid, causing it to underproduce its hormones and slowing down all of your metabolic processes.
2. It can be reversed!
If you address the underlying issues that caused your immune system to go rogue in the first place, you can stop its attack on your thyroid, restore optimal function, and eliminate your symptoms. In my book, The Thyroid Connection, I walk you through all five root causes of Hashimoto’s and how to overcome them. For additional information, read 11 Signs You Have Hashimoto’s and How to Overcome It.
3. The first step to reversing your condition is to repair your gut.
Repairing your gut is vital to reversing your symptoms of Hashimoto’s and any autoimmune condition, as 60-80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract. Leaky gut occurs when your gut lining becomes permeable, as a result of foods (such as gluten, dairy, grains and legumes), infections, toxins, stress and age. If your gut is leaky, toxins, microbes, viruses, bacteria and food particles escape, entering your bloodstream. Through a process called molecular mimicry, your immune system can be fooled into attacking look-a-like molecules that are actually your body’s own tissue, such as your thyroid. You can stop leaky gut by following The Myers Way Leaky Gut Repair Program.
4. Gluten plays a major role in Hashimoto’s and thyroid function.
One of the primary causes of leaky gut is eating an inflammatory diet containing gluten. Gluten produces zonulin, a chemical that signals the tight junctions of the intestinal walls to open up, creating permeability and the release of gluten into your bloodstream. Gluten has a similar protein structure to your thyroid, so your immune system thinks they are the same–inducing molecular mimicry. Your immune system attacks your thyroid as it would the foreign, invasive gluten. This is why I recommend that all Hashimoto’s patients eliminate gluten completely.
5. You may be low in iodine.
Sufficient levels of iodine are necessary for optimal thyroid function. Iodine and tyrosine are the building blocks of your thyroid hormones. Your thyroid converts tyrosine into thyroglobulin and attaches between one and four iodine atoms to create hormones called T1, T2, T3 and T4 respectively. Simply put, without enough iodine, your thyroid can’t produce its hormones. This is why we eat “iodized” salt. Should you take iodine supplements to counteract low levels of iodine? Some researchers advocate mega doses of iodine, whereas conventional physicians argue that large doses of iodine can worsen the condition. I custom formulated a high quality multivitamin with the optimal amount of iodine. You can also increase your consumption of foods that contain iodine including saltwater fish and sea vegetables. I have some great recipes for seaweed salad and other iodine-rich meals in my new cookbook, The Autoimmune Solution Cookbook.
Low iodine can be caused by environmental factors as well. Exposure to three chemicals can cause iodine displacement–flourine (flouride), chlorine, and bromine. These chemicals are so similar to iodine that your thyroid will absorb them and store them, therefore “displacing” iodine. This results in your thyroid not having sufficient iodine to produce thyroid hormones, leading to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. For more information, read the article The Iodine & Hashimoto’s Question.
6. Selenium is another key nutrient you may be missing.
Selenium helps the enzyme that converts thyroid hormones from the inactive (T4) hormone to their active state as the (T3) hormone. So, without enough selenium, our thyroid hormones are stuck in their inactive state, causing Hashimoto’s symptoms. Another important function of selenium is to neutralize damaging hydrogen peroxide, which is emitted in the thyroid when the body converts iodide (the form of iodine that we eat) into iodine. Hashimoto’s patients with low selenium levels who increased their intake saw a 64% reduction in antibodies. Supplemental selenium is also in my high quality multivitamin. For more reference 4 Essential Nutrients to Reverse Hashimoto’s.
7. Toxins in your everyday environment could also be playing a role.
Mercury, perchlorates, and nitrates are other toxins that can result in iodine displacement. These chemicals are similar to iodine, and are absorbed by the thyroid instead of iodine. These toxins can all be present in tap water. To reduce your exposure, you can place a filter on your sinks and shower heads. To eliminate trace amounts of mercury found in the air caused by coal burning plants, you can filter indoor air with a HEPA filter. Mercury can also be found in pesticides, fish, cosmetics, amalgam dental fillings and vaccines. A diet full of organic food and low-mercury fish along with non-toxic body products will limit your exposure. You can also have a biological dentist safely remove amalgam fillings, and make informed decisions about vaccines. It’s also important to support detox pathways, which I explain in this article.
8. You may have underlying infections fueling your condition.
Infections specific to Hashimoto’s patients include herpes viruses, Esptein-Barr, Hepatitis C, Helicobacter pylori, and Yersinia enterocolica. Unfortunately, these infections often have no symptoms, so you don’t even realize you have them. These viruses and bacteria can be detected by your doctor through various tests and treated.
9. Relieving your stress can support your thyroid.
We all experience some temporary stress, yet when stress gets too high, the adrenal glands produce a series of stress hormones including cortisol. These hormones slow down important body functions such as digestion, immune response, and thyroid hormone production and distribution. When the temporary stress subsides, the body returns to normal functioning.
Chronic stress however puts your adrenals on overdrive for extended periods of time continuously flooding your body with cortisol. This can lead to adrenal fatigue, which can be damaging to the thyroid. Cortisol causes slowed thyroid hormone production, an inability to convert thyroid hormones to their active state (T3), and thyroid hormone resistance. By relieving stress, you are supporting your thyroid and stopping the adverse effects of stress. For more information, read the article Is Stress Causing Your Hashimoto’s.
10. You have options when it comes to thyroid medication, and it’s important to find the one that works for you.
Thyroid treatment is not a “one size fits all” process. It does not include harsh drugs. It involves taking supplemental doses or replacement thyroid hormones that are necessary for your thyroid to function properly.
Thyroid treatment can include synthetic medications or compounded medications. The most common Hashimoto’s treatment is synthetic inactive (T4) hormone medication, such as Synthroid® or Levoxyl®. The downside of T4 medications is that, unlike your real thyroid, they don’t provide any active (T3) hormone. Many patients have difficulty converting T4 to T3, because of adrenal fatigue or nutritional deficiencies, meaning no matter how much T4 they take, their T3 levels will remain low, and they’ll continue to experience the negative symptoms of Hashimoto’s.
If you are a person who is not converting T4 into T3 well, then T3 medication can be prescribed including T3 (Cytomel®). Another option is compounded T3 medications, which are custom-prepared at the exact strength and dose requirements of the patient, as specified by their doctor. Compounded T3 medication can be prepared in a time-release formula to avoid the hormone rollercoaster patients often experience on Cytomel® and similar drugs. Desiccated thyroid medications, such as Amour®, WP Thyroid®, and Nature-Throid®, provide the full range of thyroid hormones, including T4, T3, T2, and T1. Because desiccated thyroid medication is the most complete treatment option, and the most similar to your body’s natural thyroid process, it is a good choice. For more information, read Which Thyroid Medication is Best for Hashimoto’s. Finding your treatment protocol takes patience and collaboration with your doctor. Regularly check your levels and listen to your body.
Remember you can beat Hashimoto’s symptoms for good! Click here to get the tools!