Hashimoto’s or “Under-active Thyroid”, is a chronic, inflammatory, autoimmune condition. The body’s immune cells attack its own thyroid. This causes inflammation and destruction of the thyroid. This leads to decreased ability to make thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.
Current theories suggest that it can be triggered or “switched on”. These triggers include; bacterial or viral infection, genetic mutation, and the impact of aging on the thyroid.
Hashimoto’s is the most common form of hypothyroidism in the western world. You can read about other forms of hypothyroidism here. Hashimoto’s is more common in females. Women whose mum, aunts, or grandmas have Hashimoto’s, may have an increased risk.
Signs and Symptoms
There are classic signs and symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease. Most clients present with tiredness, inability to lose weight, and constipation. This can make diagnosis difficult.
Less specific signs and symptoms include:
- Lethargy, apathy and fatigue
- Reduced appetite
- Weight gain, which can’t be link to dietary or lifestyle changes
- High cholesterol
- Puffy face
- Stiff joints
- Decreased libido
- Irregular periods
More specific signs and symptoms include:
- Feeling the cold, poor tolerance to the cold
- Thickened skin that’s cool to touch
- Dry, brittle, thinning hair , with loss of outer third of eyebrow
- Slow speech, with a husky voice
What about Goitres?
Goitres can occur in some cases of Hashimoto’s. Goitres are large growths in the neck, which can change your voice and affect breathing. The thyroid is told by the pituitary, via a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), to make and release T3 and T4. In Hashimoto’s the thyroid cells are self-destructed, and are unable to produce T3 and T4 effectively. As the thyroid attempts to keep up with the demands from the pituitary, it becomes inflamed and enlarged.
A thorough case history including your signs, symptoms, and any family history can help direct the pathology. Initially, individuals with Hashimoto’s may have normal TSH and T4 levels. Further testing reveals elevated Thyroid antibodies, elevated white bloods cells and elevated CRP and ESR. As the condition progresses, the T3 and T4 decrease, and the TSH will increase.
The role of food in Hashimoto’s.
Food can reduce inflammation and assist with autoimmunity. Diet for Hashimoto’s will improve thyroid stimulation, balance thyroid hormones, assist with weight loss and glucose intolerance, support digestive and elimination functions, repair intestinal permeability, isolate and remove food intolerance – usually gluten sensitivity is present. It can also provide symptomatic relief of constipation, fatigue, inflammation, hair thinning.
Things to consider for a Hashimoto’s diet include:
Iodine foods- Eating foods rich in iodine will decease deficiency. This includes; sea-water fish, shellfish, sea-vegetables, and seaweeds. Iodised salt, dairy milk, and fortified breads are processed to improve iodine levels.
Zinc rich foods – Support the immune system, modulate autoimmunity and minimize inflammation. Zinc rich foods include: oysters, beef, oatmeal, chicken, liver, spinach, nuts and seeds.
Gluten – Gluten can cause dysbiosis , and is can worsen autoimmune conditions. Remove all traces of gluten from diet.
Goitrogenic foods – These prevent the utilisation of iodine. These foods include raw cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, bok-choy, horseradish, turnips, mustard, rutabagas, soybeans, peanuts, pine nuts and millet. Cooking inactivates them.
Do you think your thyroid is under-active? Are you struggling to manage your Hashimoto’s?