The most common cause of hypothyroidism is iodine deficiency. In the United States, Hashimoto’s disease is responsible for 90% of the cases of hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition that is characterized by the destruction of the thyroid gland from antibody mediated immune complexes. What that means is there’s a triggering event which causes your body to produce antibodies against itself and attack the thyroid, causing the thyroid cells to be destroyed and stored hormones are then released causing toxic levels of thyroid hormone. Patients with Hashimoto’s disease can experience both hypothyroid and hyperthyroid symptoms. Eventually the thyroid hormones are depleted causing hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can cause many symptoms, but more commonly can cause fatigue, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, cold intolerance, depression, memory loss, and hoarseness. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism is made by performing a blood test for TSH, Free T3, and Free T4. Hashimoto’s disease is diagnosed through the blood test measuring for anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and thyroid peroxidase antibodies. TSH may not become abnormal until Hashimoto’s is advanced. People can have a normal TSH for years while having hypothyroid symptoms. Hashimoto’s patients are also at risk for developing other autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 Diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac disease, and Hypoparathyroidism.
The most effective way of treating Hashimoto’s disease is to find out what’s triggering the immune defect. You can treat with thyroid supplementation, if warranted, but you have to stop the cycle of autoimmunity.
Some of the causes of Hashimoto’s disease include:
Gluten intolerance and Celiac disease
Let’s face it, the food we eat today is depleted of nutrients, processed, and covered with chemicals! Commonly prescribed medicines and over-the-counter medicines can also cause nutrient depletions. Acid blockers can cause deficiencies in iron, B vitamins, calcium, zinc, and selenium. All of these nutrients are important for thyroid hormone production. Birth control pills deplete magnesium, selenium, vitamin B, C, and zinc. These nutrients are involved in helping our immune system and thyroid production. Antibiotics block B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and iron absorption, as well as destroying our beneficial flora in the gut. Hypothyroidism patients have a diminished ability to extract minerals and vitamins from their food sources, further worsening the problem.
Nutrients most important to optimal thyroid function include selenium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium, iodine, and zinc. Patients with Hashimoto’s can also have low stomach acid levels due to hypothyroidism and can’t digest proteins . They can become deficient in tyrosine and glutamine which both play roles in thyroid function and immunity.
Goitrogens are substances that suppress the thyroid gland by interfering with thyroid hormone production. Some foods in this category include cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower. They can block the uptake of iodine needed to make thyroid hormone. Steaming or sautéing vegetables will deactivate their ability to block iodine uptake. Both canola oil and soy can also block thyroid hormone production. At Dynamic Life Health Center, we can measure your nutrients, amino acids, and digestion markers to determine the best treatment regimen and optimize your thyroid hormone.
Iodine is important for proper thyroid function. Iodine levels can be measured by a simple urine test. Just adding iodine without testing your levels can worsen Hashimoto’s disease or cause thyroid storm, which is an excessive release of thyroid hormone. This condition can be life threatening!
Inflammation can be caused by food intolerances, infections, a pro-inflammatory diet and low levels of intestinal beneficial flora. Our bodies work best if we have a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 foods. Most Americans get too much omega 6 in their diet from vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, and processed foods. Omega 3 rich foods are found in fish, shellfish, and flaxseeds. Be sure to include healthy oil such as coconut oil, extra-virgin olive oil, and cod liver oil.
Several pathogens including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites have been found to trigger Hashimoto’s disease. Some of the infections include:
Borrelia Burgdorferi (Lyme’s disease)
Epstein Barr virus (Mononucleosis virus)
Eighty percent of our immune function is based on how well our gut is functioning. Leaky gut is an increased permeability of the small intestine which allows substances to leak thru the gut. Once these substances are released into our immune system, they are recognized as foreign and the inflammation process begins. There are things that can trigger leaky gut such as food allergies, alcohol, medication, bacteria, stress, strenuous exercise, and overgrowth of bacteria in the small bowel. Probiotics help your immune system and prevent leaky gut. Other gut healing remedies can be found in black tea, glutamine, zinc carnosine, butyrate, and fermented foods.
Your adrenal gland helps balance your cortisol level and has a critical effect on thyroid and immunity. Cortisol secreted from the adrenal glands acts as an anti-inflammatory hormone preventing damage from inflammation. If cortisol levels are high, they can actually block your thyroid hormone from working properly. Getting proper sleep, adaptogenic herbs, and stress reduction techniques can all help heal the adrenal gland. Saliva testing is available to check cortisol levels and is paramount in fighting Hashimoto’s disease.
Other triggers of Hashimoto’s disease to consider are hormone imbalances, gluten allergies, and toxins. At Dynamic Life Health Center, we will search for the root cause which may be affecting your thyroid imbalance causing Hashimoto’s disease.
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Dr. Lyn Berutti is your leading Functional Medicine expert serving the Forth Worth, Colleyville, and Southlake, Texas area. Specialization includes anti-aging, weight loss and hormone replacement therapy.