Hashimoto’s disease is a condition that people have where the immune system attacks the thyroid, which is a small gland at the base of the neck. This gland is part of the endocrine system, which creates hormones that systematize the body’s processes. Hashimoto’s disease leads to inflammation known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, leading to an underactive thyroid gland. Hashimoto’s disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in the US and mostly affects middle-aged women.
Some symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease include fatigue, constipation, sensitivity to a cold, hoarse voice, weight gain, depression, and muscle weakness. It is important to see a doctor if you experience one or several of these symptoms together to have a thyroid check.
Doctors are unsure what causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. Some researchers believe that a virus or a set of bacteria may trigger the response, but others believe it may be due to a genetic flaw. There may be a combination of factors that determine one’s risk of this disease, including genes, gender, and age. Also, having a comorbid autoimmune disease such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, increases your likelihood of developing Hashimoto’s disease.
There is not a cure for Hashimoto’s disease, but using medication can regulate hormone levels, which will help restore normal metabolism. There are pills available to help treat the disease, which can be determined by the severity of the disease. Once treatment is started, a thyroid-stimulating hormone lab tests done to monitor thyroid function and to make sure the medication is helping.
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The dietary goals of someone with a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s are to reduce the inflammation in the body, balance hormones, assist the thyroid in creating hormones, and assist the body in converting them correctly.
Dietary recommendations are made in order to supplement medical therapy so a patient can help their body as best they can. According to The Science of Eating, having nutritional thyroid support is very important to shorten the length of time to reach a cure. Eating a diet that is rich in high-quality fats and proteins, with a lot of fresh, organic produce, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and nutrient-dense foods is important.
It is also important to get enough protein because lowered thyroid function inhibits the body from utilizing proteins that are consumed. It is important for people with Hashimoto’s disease to eat three solid meals and two snacks each day to keep their blood sugar levels maintained throughout the day. While every patient may need slight dietary modifications for their own sensitivities or preferences, it is important to follow a beneficial diet as best as possible and keep energy levels high, as thyroid dysfunction can reduce levels of energy throughout the day.
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In addition to medical intervention, there are specific foods you can eat and avoid in order to help the disease stay at rest. Avoid foods that you know you are allergic to, some other common foods may aggravate the disease. This includes dairy, partially hydrogenated oils, eggs, gluten, tomatoes, dehydrated fruits, rice, corn, alcohol, soda, soy, peanuts, beef, and shellfish.
This may seem to leave a Hashimoto’s patient with very few food choices, however, there are some foods that are very beneficial for people who are suffering from this disease to include in their diet. A diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, quinoa, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, cashews, almonds, almond milk, and herbal tea is very beneficial for thyroid disease.
Eating properly to maintain health is especially important if you are diagnosed with a disease that is working against your body’s ability to function at its best. Find a diet that is right for you and try to stick with it as best as possible and avoid eating foods that will cause your body more inflammation, therefore worsening your condition.