Patients with Hashimoto’s, which by the way is approximately 90% of all Hypothyroid patients, tend to have the regular load of hypo symptoms, but also tend to have things like acid reflux, brain fog, a leaky gut, nutrient deficiencies, anaemia/low iron, food allergies/sensitivies and adrenal fatigue as well.
You can find out if you have Hashimoto’s by completing two blood tests: TPOAB and TGAB. If they are over the range, you can assume your autoimmune culprit for your hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s. More info about Hashimoto’s can be found here.
In this post, I’m going to cover ways in which you can treat, manage and help your Hashimoto’s and its symptoms. There is no cure for Hashimoto’s, but it can be put in to remission; basically, antibodies lowered and kept more under control and better managed.
One of the first things you may want to think about if you have Hashimoto’s, is going gluten free and free from other problem-causing foods, too.
I know, it sounds urgh. It sounds boring and it sounds daunting. I’ve been there. Going gluten free at first was really confusing for me, but it’s easy once you know what you’re doing. I made a list of everything with gluten, wheat, barley, rye and oats in, that I eat on a weekly basis. I made a shopping list, and underlined anything with those in, and then thought of alternatives, like rice noodles instead of regular noodles, and gluten free bread instead of regular bread. When I was at the shop, I got into the habit of checking the ingredients for everything. You soon become accustomed to it and do it without even thinking.
A lot of people find going gluten free helps their Hashimoto’s in terms of brain fog, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, and helps lower antibodies. Gluten sensitivity (common with Hashimoto’s) is different to an allergy (Coeliac’s), in the way that you are generally diagnosed with Coeliac Disease if you have an intolerance to gluten, with symptoms of diarrhoea, bloating, bad wind etc. but a sensitivity can mean an increase in hypothyroid symptoms such as increased fatigue, swinging lab results (also swinging symptoms in feeling hypo one day and hyper the other), goitres/swelling in the throat, aches and pains, brain fog and poor gut health, meaning low absorption rate of minerals and vitamins, when you consume it.
In addition to gluten sensitivity, you may also be sensitive to other proteins including grains, such as: rice, quinoa, and corn. Other people may also react badly to dairy and eggs. It’s always worth going completely free of any of these for 3+ months to check if you do indeed have a sensitivity to them. Soy and goitrogens are also big ones for having thyroid inhibiting effects. See if you notice any difference or any symptoms after consuming them. It could be hours or a day later, but does it make you feel extra tired or give you acid reflux? Keep a food diary and try an elimination diet.
Some people go Paleo and say this helps with their management of hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s, too.
Hippocrates said: “All disease begins in the gut”.
Your gut is home to your immune system, so when you heal and balance your gut function, you immune system should recover too. Stress and an imbalance of gut flora can lead to a leaky gut, as well as all the above mentioned about gluten and other food stuffs.
Different types of leaky gut are covered here.
As having Hashimoto’s means having possible damage to your gut lining, loss of absorption from vitamins and minerals can occur. Because of this, there are many that you may wish to supplement. These include B, D (always take with K), Selenium, C, zinc, iron etc. Pro/Prebiotics are often recommended to help maintain a healthy gut.
A lot of you won’t like this next one, but avoiding/eliminating caffeine is also a big one. Caffeine can interfere with your metabolism and place stress on your adrenal glands. Basically, it’s just a no-no. I’ve gone caffeine-free and my hormonal migraines got better. They’re now gone completely, now I’m on the correct thyroid medication for me, but caffeine was making them worse.
Isabella Wentz says that it may also be worth checking for infections, anywhere in the body from the mouth to the gut, and treating them appropriately. More info here. From mouth ulcers to tooth infections and H Pylori, they can all affect gut health and are classed as toxins.
Toxins are just that: toxic. And as such, as strange as this sounds, you should try to sweat toxins out on a daily basis. If you don’t do this a lot normally, try physical exercise, hot baths (detox baths with a cup of Epsom Salts to draw out toxins) and saunas. If we don’t sweat enough, we don’t get rid of enough toxins.
Organic beauty products tend to be best, so go for them when you can. A lot of people live by ‘if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin’, with the idea that what we put on our skin ends up in the body anyway.
If you have Hashimoto’s then you are more likely to have dry skin conditions, break-outs, rashes, hives etc. especially if your thyroid levels are not correct and you are not absorbing vitamins and nutrients correctly (see above about a damaged gut and absorption). You can try the oil cleansing method like I have.
You should address any constipation or diarrhoea, and be sure to be going to the loo regularly to be flushing toxins out your body that way, too. Drink at least 2 litres of water a day. Many sources say to avoid fluoride, so drink water not containing this, where possible. Fluoride is also seen as a toxin.
Make sure you’re on the right thyroid medication for you, and your levels are optimal.
This doesn’t mean simply falling ‘in range’, but being in the place within the range, that most thyroid patients note they feel best. For TSH, you want to aim for 0.5-2, for Free T3 aim for the top quarter of the range, and for Free T4, mid-range or a little higher.
A lot of doctors and endocrinologists refuse to acknowledge that it’s not just about falling ‘in range’, but it’s where in range you fall that matters. It matters entirely.
To get your levels right, you may need to be prepared to switch medication. A lot of patients have low Free T3 levels when on T4-only drugs like Levothyroxine or Synthroid, as they fail to covert it to T3. So they do better when adding in T3 to their T4, switching to T3 altogether, or switching to natural desiccated thyroid altogether. It’s about finding what works best for you. We’re all different. You should try to work with your doctor to do this if needed.
Check your adrenals.
It’s not only crucial to make sure your thyroid levels are right, but also your adrenal cortisol levels. Having high or low cortisol can wreak havoc and cause a lot of similar symptoms to hypothyroidism. Read them here. You should have a 24 hour saliva cortisol test, testing 4 key points throughout the day, to test your adrenal function. I ordered mine through Genova. Once you know if you have highs, lows or a mix, you can work on fixing it, and in turn, getting rid of some of those other pesky symptoms.
The adrenal glands are also part of the endocrine system, like the thyroid, so they work together. You need to look after both. After all, the body relies on both of them to do so much.
Spend time in the sunshine, relax and spend time with people who make you happy. These things will help your adrenals to remain healthy. Avoid as much stress as possible.
Blood sugar imbalances are also common for those who have adrenal fatigue. If you feel a low blood sugar moment, eat protein and not sugar. Eating sugar will only make it worse.
You can try to avoid using plastic to store food and drink, as plastic used over time can disrupt hormones. There has also been some controversy on antibacterial products, such as soaps, that use triclosan, so many sources say to avoid using them.
A lot of the above will help many Hashimoto’s patients, but really, a lot of them will help most people, too. Hypothyroid, non-hypothyroid.. A lot of it is stuff that affects people with autoimmune diseases in particular, yes, but also good practise anyone can try implementing.
Being completely honest, I haven’t implemented an awful lot, or at least not strictly. I have gone gluten free, I supplement vitamins, I buy organic where I can and I have a bath once or twice a day. I won’t pass comment on my toilet habits. You get the picture!
The above serves to help you, help yourself.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given, but more reading and references can also be found at:
Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel is a Thyroid Patient Advocate and Expert with Six WEGO Award Nominations, a highly ranked writer appearing in the Top Hypothyroidism Websites and Top Thyroid Websites 2018. Currently studying to become a Life Coach, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Dr. Hedberg, Thyroid UK and ThyroidChange, to name just a few. She is well recognised as a trusted and useful contributor to the thyroid community and has relevant qualifications and certificates in Diet and Nutrition, Reflexology, Motivational Speaking and Positive Thinking.