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Last week we covered the basics of Hashimoto's thyroiditis. What is it, what is an autoimmune disease, the genetic influence on developing autoimmune diseases, how is Hashimoto's diagnosed, and what are the symptoms? This week we'll be talking about whether these diseases can be prevented, and how Hashimoto's is treated.
1. Are there things (diet, exercise, lifestyle changes, etc.) we can do to prevent the disease?
If there is a family history of autoimmunity, it is crucial to maintain the health of the immune system, the hormones (like the reproductive hormones and the adrenal gland hormones), and the gastrointestinal tract.
Prevention requires that the individual master the basics:
- Gluten-free diet
- Moderate carb intake
- Emphasizing only 100% whole grains (or no grains at all)
- Fermented foods
- A broad variety of 5-9 servings of veggies and fruits per day
- Lean, clean protein
- Exercise for stress management, hormone balance, blood sugar metabolism, aerobic fitness, and its positive effect on brain health. (Yes, brain health is directly tied to thyroid and immune system health.)
2. What is the treatment plan for Hashimoto's?
Medication can be an important part of the treatment plan, especially with regard to symptom management. However, from a more comprehensive integrative medicine approach, we try to identify a predisposing trigger. I recommend the following on a case by case basis:
- Reduce stress, anxiety, and associated negative emotions.
- Eliminate consumer products that have toxins, including foods, personal care products, household cleaners, and paints and aerosols - see ewg.org for a guide to making more informed decisions about safety from harmful chemicals.
- Avoid exposure to halogens such as fluoride, bromide and chloride, as they can compete with iodide which is necessary for proper thyroid hormone function.
- Daily exercise (combo of high-intensity, aerobic, and resistance).
- I evaluate for food allergies and sensitivities, and eliminate the foods that the immune system is reacting to.
- I generally recommend a gluten-free and possibly grain-free or at least grain-restricted diet, and elimination of any foods that are difficult to digest in addition to the really obvious junk like high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated fats, and artificial sweeteners like aspartame.
- Avoid sugar, including agave nectar and honey; avoid sugar alcohol substitutes (mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol) if intestinal discomfort is present.
- Avoid alcohol.
- Drink plenty of water (in some cases up to a gallon per day).
- The diet needs to be anti-inflammatory with ample amounts of organic vegetables and low glycemic fruits, taking care to avoid foods with high pesticide residue - see ewg.org for the Dirty Dozen.
- Add fermented vegetables to eating plan.
- Avoid high mercury fish, especially swordfish, orange roughy, shark, tile fish, king mackerel, marlin and certain tunas.
- Keep blood sugar balanced by eating small meals frequently throughout the day and incorporating high quality protein at each meal.
If you have questions about your predisposition to an AI disease, or the treatment of your Hashimoto's or other AI disease, we offer free consultations. Reserve your spot today.