Wow, guys. It’s hard to believe a month has gone by since I published my last post on Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, the autoimmune disease I was diagnosed with a couple months ago.
If you didn’t get a chance to read it, and you’re wondering what the world Hashimoto’s is, you can check the post out right here!
Alrighty, all you lovely people, let’s get this show on the road.
Like I was saying, it’s been a month since my last post, so here’s a quick recap:
• Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, thinking it’s “foreign tissue,” eventually destroying the thyroid if the disease isn’t caught early enough.
• The butterfly shaped thyroid gland is situated underneath the Adam’s apple in the front of the neck.
• According to EndocrineWeb, the thyroid produces and releases hormones that are responsible for such things as breathing, heart rate, muscle strength, and body temperature, among many other functions!
Yeppers, the thyroid is kinda crucial to have around, so if the autoimmune disease ever shows its ugly Hashimoto face, the earlier you can catch it and begin treatment, the better.
Wait, wait, wait, let’s back it up a sec. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard the term “autoimmune disease,” but do you know what all it entails?
Medline Plus explains it as when “your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body by mistake.”
Multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, lupus, and the aforementioned Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are just a handful out of about 100 autoimmune diseases.
Even though there’s technically no cure for the majority of autoimmune diseases out there, many of them are managed with prescription drugs, physical therapy, etc.
The thing is, prescription medications in general may improve one’s symptoms for its intended condition, but just hearing some of the side effects could scare the butt cheeks right off of you.
Have you ever seen one of those commercials for prescription meds?
You know the ones that nonchalantly mention how the drug could trigger ridiculous amounts of facial hair where people mistake you for the ZZ Top drummer, or how it might provoke loose, “tarry stools and an inability to control them.”
So essentially, the price you pay for alleviating one set of symptoms, is the possibility of creating your own personal tar pit in your skivvies.
What Causes the Autoimmune Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
While some experts don’t feel there is an answer to what causes Hashimoto’s, plenty of research and evidence seem to suggest otherwise. The following factors are just a few thought to be involved in the development of the thyroid disease.
While you can’t catch or “get” Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis from another person like the flu, more and more research shows the exposure of environmental toxins and industrial chemicals such as pesticides, phthalates, PFOAs, etc., play a big part in not only developing Hashimoto’s, but autoimmunity in general, so much so that exposure to environmental toxins increases your risk more than autoimmune disease running in your family.
According to Kellman Center for Integrative and Functional Medicine founder, Dr. Raphael Kellman, “viruses like HTLV-1, enterovirus, rubella, mumps virus, HSV (Herpes Simplex virus), EBV (Epstein-Barr virus) and parvovirus are all found to be linked with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis,” simply because they trigger inflammation and overstimulation of the immune system.”
Despite that, there’s still work needing to be done. Scientists continue to search for the matching component that is prompting the immune system to declare war on healthy tissues while the viruses are in da house.
Leaky Gut Syndrome
Springing a leak in the ole gut-a-roo is “almost always associated with autoimmune disease,” confirms Functional Medicine Expert, Jill Carnahan, MD. Increased Intestinal Permeability, or better known as “Leaky Gut,” is being referred to as an “epidemic.”
The people over at Solving Leaky Gut, clarify how a leaky gut works:
“It allows TOXIC food particles, environmental chemicals, and bacterial waste to leak through your digestive tract and into your body– once inside, these foreign particles travel to different areas of your body and trigger an immune response, promoting inflammation and jumpstarting the development of chronic disease.”
Basically (and I do mean, basic), leaky gut causes the crud that’s supposed to stay in your gut, to seep or “leak” into your body.
Having a selenium deficiency can be bad news bears for your bod.
What’s so special about selenium?
Well this antioxidant is essential during thyroid hormone production. Additionally, author and functional nutritionist, Andrea Nakayama states, “Selenium counteracts the oxidative stress and inflammation that can come from excesses of iodine surrounding the thyroid tissue, or as a result of the immune overdrive present in Hashimoto’s.”
To show just how much of an impact selenium can have on a thyroid with autoimmune disease, several studies have been performed to look at the effects of selenium supplements. Researchers found the inflammation was reduced a noticeable amount, which in turn, may very well keep a lid on the amount of damage done to the thyroid tissue. Studies have also discovered selenium supplements to be beneficial even to patients who have normal selenium levels!
As encouraging as all this sounds, additional research is still necessary in order to gather more information on the long term effects of selenium treatments (if any at all).
Pregnancy can mess with a woman’s thyroid causing it to go a little wackadoo once the baby is out. The good news is the symptoms usually go away. The not so good news? A fifth of those women will develop Hashimoto’s later on down the road.
Mercury is found in fish we eat, sometimes it’s used in the fillings we get at the dentist, aka dental amalgams, and “from the burning of coal which gets up into the atmosphere and is found in the rain and in the soil in the areas close to coal plants,” according to author and naturopath, Dr. Nikolas Hedberg.
With that being said, a study conducted in Czech Republic concluded this is only relevant toward people who have a mercury sensitivity. They realized this by removing the fillings containing mercury from people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis who tested positive for a mercury sensitivity. Once the fillings were taken out, their antibody levels dropped a boatload. Researchers then removed the fillings containing mercury from Hashimoto’s sufferers that did not have a sensitivity to mercury, and their antibody levels stayed put.
Risk Factors for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Now don’t freak out if one or more of the following risk factors applies to you. 😉 It does not mean you’ll end up with Hashimoto’s!
- You’re at greater risk for developing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis when you have another autoimmune disease. That’s the case because all autoimmune diseases progress the same way— the immune system assaults the body’s healthy tissue. Now if you simply treat the symptoms of the autoimmune disease as opposed to the root cause, nutritionist and owner of Healthy Lifestyles, Tracy Konoske MS RD LD, compares it to a wild fire. “If you don’t put it out, it just gets bigger and bigger.” As if one autoimmune disease isn’t enough.
- Genetics also play a big part in developing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If you have a family member with a thyroid or autoimmune disorder, the risk for developing Hashimoto’s goes up.
- Ya know, sometimes it sucks being a girl. Women are 7 times more likely to develop Hashimoto’s than men. *eye roll*
- And then there’s age. Although Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can occur at any point in your life, it tends to happen more often once middle age rolls around.
If you suspect there’s something going on with your thyroid, don’t be afraid to speak up and talk with your doctor about having your thyroid tested.
In addition to the thyroid tests, TSH, Free T4, Free T3, and Reverse T3 (many times doctors don’t include Reverse T3 on the panel, so make sure to mention this one!), confirm that your doctor also orders thyroid antibodies tests, which are normally used when diagnosing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
The two most common tests are:
1) Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb)
2) Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)
Most of the time, people with Hashimoto’s test positive for at least one of the thyroid antibodies. However, Hypothyroid Mom shared an article by Dr. Datis Kharrazian telling us there are times when people will have normal test results, but they do in fact have Hashimoto’s.
This is the case “because their overall immune health is weak and they do not produce enough antibodies. Their immune systems have been so stressed for so long that their total white blood cells and B-cells are too low to be able to make antibodies.”
Prognosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
If you catch Hashimoto’s sooner rather than later and begin treating the condition, Right Diagnosis tells us “the prognosis is excellent and patients lead a normal life.”
Treatment typically involves the person taking synthetic thyroid hormone such as Synthroid. In a perfect world this will do away with the fatigue, hair loss, and other symptoms one may have.
Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
The sucky thing is that many conventional doctors are convinced replacement therapy is the only treatment out there. If it doesn’t work for a person, they pretty much take the “well it sucks to be you” mentality. So Hashimoto’s sufferers assume they’re all out of options and end up just dealing with their terrible symptoms.
However, there is hope for the millions of people out there with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or any other autoimmune disease.
Healing Leaky Gut Syndrome with the Paleo Diet
The last few years, we’ve seen a growing number of people taking a more natural approach when treating their autoimmune disease. The well-known method I’m referring to is the Paleo diet.
It’s short for Paleolithic, as in Paleolithic Period, when our cavemen ancestors were sporting fuzzy one-shouldered tunics and “driving” the original Little Tyke.
As I mentioned Dr. Carnahan stating earlier, leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune disease tend to go hand in hand. But when one starts eating Paleo-approved foods, they are munching on foods that don’t cause an uproar in your gut.
Then there are the Paleo-friendly foods that actually promote the gut to heal like bone broth, sweet potatoes, coconut oil, avocado, salmon, etc. These rock stars help repair the intestinal wall.
When a person “goes Paleo,” they’re giving up grains, dairy, processed food, anything with added sugar (like donuts. or Pop Tarts. or Ben and Jerry’s Spectacular Speculoos. )-:), artificial sugar, energy drinks, plus other minor things.
If you were with me last year around this time, you might remember the video series I did, giving updates on my progress during a 30 day Paleo diet challenge.
I’m not gonna lie. When first starting out, I hated life. The cravings, irritability, disruption of my normal routine, you name it. I especially missed the ease of my morning greek yogurt. It sure beat actually having to make a breakfast.
Now, even though countless amounts of people have noticed a dramatic difference after making the switch to Paleo, often times people living with Hashimoto’s or autoimmune disease in general, kick the diet up a notch by following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) Paleo diet in order to reap more benefits.
In addition to eliminating all the stuff above, you have to say buh-bye to nightshades (e.g., tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc.), nuts, and eggs. These can create an immune response in people with an autoimmune condition.
Yeah, I know those are toughies to give up, especially after parting ways with all the other foods that aren’t Paleo-friendly to begin with.
AIP may seem restrictive at first, but the results can be totally worthwhile and downright amazing. Like, the-autoimmune-disease-going-into-remission kind of amazing.
From being able to go completely off the meds managing their condition, to feeling energized throughout the day, experiencing improved sleep, painless joints, no fog brain, you name it! The outcomes are super inspiring.
Hey, have any of you ever tried AIP or Paleo? What did you think? Did you feel a big difference? Not impressed? Tell me your experience!
Has anyone out there found “the” treatment when it comes to their Hashimoto’s or autoimmune disorder? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
And have you signed up for Hungry Beastling yet? You haven’t, huh? Well, you can do that right here and then you’ll never miss another post. 😉
I’ll be linking this post up here!
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