Managing Autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

February 19, 2018 | Wellness Resources

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Managing Autoimmune Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Supermodel Gigi Hadid recently splattered social media feeds saying she has Hashimoto’s, a condition wherein the immune system is dysfunctional and causes inflammation in the thyroid gland. If you have a thyroid condition, listen closely. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in America.

Classified under the umbrella category of thyroid conditions, Hashimoto’s often presents with symptoms similar to hypothyroidism and is frequently misdiagnosed or missed altogether by physicians. In fact, the majority of diagnosed hypothyroid conditions are actually autoimmune in nature. This article lays out a new way of looking at thyroid conditions and offers new hope for getting to the root cause of your symptoms.

Hashimoto’s Vs. Hypothyroidism

Simple hypothyroidism often occurs as a result of nutrient deficiencies like iodine, selenium and tyrosine, but Hashimoto’s is different. It is a condition in which the immune system inappropriately attacks the thyroid gland with antibodies believing that it is a foreign invader. The disease is characterized by elevated levels of thyroid antibodies in the blood that indicate there is an attack going on that is causing inflammation in the thyroid gland.

Like with many autoimmune conditions, symptoms of Hashimoto’s can vary significantly and be unpredictable. Hashimoto’s can often be erratic with periods of normalcy and then dysfunction. Eventually the gland burns out from the inflammation and becomes full-blown hypothyroidism. It is common for people at this point to visit their doctor with symptoms of extreme fatigue, weight gain, thinning hair, and dry skin. However, many people experience symptoms well before levels of thyroid hormone fall out of range. That is one reason the condition can be difficult to diagnose, especially early on.

The medical approach is to prescribe a synthetic thyroid hormone once the gland fails. For those who experience symptoms but still have some gland function, this can result in feeling worse. For others, a synthetic hormone can feel like a life saver. However, in both cases the medical approach fails to address the root cause of the issue: the immune system.

Causes of Immune System Malfunction

What causes the immune system to launch an attack on your own body? That is the million dollar question that could help get to the bottom of autoimmune conditions of all types.

While the natural health community has known this for years, the medical profession is finally beginning to realize the connection between the gut and the immune system. Hashimoto’s is associated with increased gut permeability, a disorder known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. The digestive system does more than just digest food. It plays host to nearly eighty percent of the immune system. The gut contains “tight junctions” that act like doors and selectively open and close to allow nutrients in and keep foreign invaders out. If the gut becomes leaky, the doors are inappropriately left open and things that would normally be shut out are allowed to enter the blood stream. This triggers an immune response that can launch an inflammatory fire in the body to deal with the perceived invader. If the inflammation targets the thyroid gland, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can set in.

There are many things that might change gut permeability. Aging, a poor diet, or high levels of acute stress and chronic stress are common factors that can lead to tight junctions being left open. The holistic health community has uncovered fascinating research showing that gluten causes increased intestinal permeability in all individuals and is considered a cause of Hashimoto’s. Individual food sensitivities also cause gut permeability changes. Consider trying an elimination diet and add common allergens back in slowly.

The Road to Recovery

Stabilizing the immune system is crucial if you want to manage Hashimoto’s. Gut health centers on beneficial flora. You are more likely to have a leaky gut if there is dysbiosis in the gut, a condition of the flora in the gut characterized by having too many non-beneficial good flora and not enough of the good flora. Eating a diet rich in fiber, choosing fermented foods, and taking probiotics is recommended.

To truly correct a leaky gut, you have to close the leaky junctions. Research highlights key nutrients that support a healthy gut lining and help to reverse permeability. These include L-glutamine, N-acetyl-glucosamine, lactoferrin, quercetin, and whey protein. Other helpful nutrients for a healthy gut lining are vitamins A, C, D, boswellia, NAC, omega-3 fish oil, zinc, and digestive enzymes. Know that it takes time to truly repair a leaky gut.

Other nutrients that help to address the underlying causes of Hashimoto’s include quercetin, an immune system modulator. Its effects can be enhanced when combined with other potent anti-inflammatories like curcumin, vitamin C, and grapeseed extract antioxidants.

The immune system relies on adequate amounts of antioxidants to function properly. Glutathione (made from NAC), DHA omega 3 fish oil, magnesium, zinc, coenzyme B vitaminsvitamin A and vitamin D are particularly important antioxidants for stabilizing the immune system. Deficiencies in these nutrients have been linked to autoimmune conditions of all kinds. Finally, reduce stress in the thyroid gland directly with nutrients like selenium, ashwagandha and iodine, as there are many environemental stressors that affect thyroid health.

Your thyroid gland affects your entire body. If you aren’t feeling your best, encourage your doctor to dig deeper into the issue. Ask them to test you for Hashimoto’s. The issue may actually lie in your immune system rather than in your thyroid gland.

Fixing the gut and ruling out simple nutrient deficiencies becomes imperative if you want to feel like yourself again. Don’t sit back and wait for your body to destroy all function of the thyroid gland. You can get Hashimoto’s under control! Get to the root of the issue and help prevent further immune attack and the far reaching effects it will have on your body.

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