Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Understanding these conditions and their relationship to diet is crucial for managing symptoms and improving overall health. As someone with Hashimoto’s, I can help you from my own personal experience and share how I manage it through improving my gut health and diet accordingly.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and eventually damaging the thyroid. This damage impairs the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones, primarily thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). As a result, the thyroid function declines, causing hypothyroidism—insufficient thyroid hormone levels in the body. On the other hand, hypothyroidism is a broader term referring to an underactive thyroid gland, regardless of the cause. It can stem from various factors, including Hashimoto’s, thyroid surgery, radiation therapy, certain medications and deficiencies. Essentially, it’s a condition characterised by low thyroid hormone production which causes symptoms.
Having an underactive thyroid regardless of whether it is the autoimmune version or not, will usually result in a common set of symptoms. However, each person can experience it differently. I always describe the thyroid gland as being likened to your thermostat in your house. When you turn the thermostat down you feel colder and there is less energy output so you might feel tired, sluggish, constipated and have mood swings. When the thermostat is turned up as in hyperthyroid, the symptoms are often the opposite; fast heart rate, intolerance to heat, palpitations, anxiety, diarrohea, so it is as though everything is “turned up”.
Symptoms of underactive thyroid include and are not limited to; fatigue, sluggish bowels, constipation, dry skin, cold extremities, weight gain, hair loss, weak/splitting nails and here is an odd one, but quite common; loss of the third outer part of the eyebrow.
I personally experienced all of these symptoms but the most troublesome were definitely the crippling fatigue and gut related problems i.e bloating and chronic constipation. Once I got some tests done and had answers I changed my diet and that is when everything improved and now I would say I am symptom free!
While diet alone doesn’t cause Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, it can influence its progression and severity. Nutritional deficiencies such as low or deficient vitamin D levels are commonly linked to underactive thyroid. Other nutrients with evidence to be important considerations are; selenium, potassium, iodine, copper, magnesium, zinc, iron, vitamin A, C, D and B and sufficient protein intake.
Here are some important nutritional considerations to have healthy thyroid function:
Iodine is required for the production of thyroid hormones. Both excess and insufficient iodine intake can affect thyroid function. In areas with low iodine in the soil, dietary iodine intake may be insufficient, potentially contributing to hypothyroidism. Conversely, excessive iodine intake in susceptible individuals might trigger or exacerbate Hashimoto’s. Testing is the best way to be sure.
Selenium is an essential micronutrient with antioxidant properties that support the thyroid. Studies suggest that selenium deficiency might contribute to the development of autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s. Foods rich in selenium, like Brazil nuts, seafood, and organ meats, might benefit those with these conditions. Check out my recipe page for some healthy inspiration.
Gluten and Dairy
Some individuals with Hashimoto’s find relief from symptoms by avoiding gluten and dairy. These foods might trigger an inflammatory response in susceptible individuals, exacerbating autoimmune conditions.
Certain foods contain compounds called goitrogens that can interfere with thyroid function. Examples include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. However, cooking these foods typically neutralises their goitrogenic effects and the benefits of including them in your diet likely out ways any negative effects.
Ensuring a well-rounded diet with sufficient nutrients—such as vitamins D and B12, iron, and zinc—supports overall thyroid health and may alleviate some symptoms associated with these conditions. Testing for your nutritional status is a great way to ensure you are meeting your needs. Ask me for more info on tests.
Testing for Anwers
Managing Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism often involves medication, typically synthetic thyroid hormones. However, the impact of diet varies among individuals. While some people might notice significant improvements by adopting specific dietary changes, others might not experience the same effects.
Consulting with a qualified, experienced healthcare provider is crucial for personalised guidance. I help create a tailored diet plan, considering your individual needs, potential food sensitivities, and the specific nature of your thyroid condition.
Ultimately, while diet plays a role in managing Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, it’s just one aspect of a comprehensive treatment approach that includes testing, supplements, medication in some cases, lifestyle modifications, and regular monitoring to ensure optimal thyroid function and overall well-being.
If you would like to know more about functional testing to uncover any deficiencies and imbalances and to get a tailored health plan to transform your health, book your call with me today.
Reference: The importance of nutritional factors and dietary management of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32588591/
*Disclaimer: the information provided here is for information purposes only and not designed to treat or diagnose. Your GP should always be your first port of call if you are concerned about your health. I do not know your personal circumstances and therefore to get a personalised, bespoke health plan please get in touch to arrange your free discovery call. email@example.com