Hashimotoâ€™s Thyroiditis is an autoimmune disorder that negatively impacts the function of the thyroid gland (1). Like other autoimmune disorders, Hashimotoâ€™s occurs when the immune system produces antibodies that attack healthy tissue in the body (1). When you have Hashimoto’s, it kind of feels like your body has a love-hate relationship with itself.
What is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimotoâ€™s is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism in developed countries (2). A total of 14 million people are affected by the disease in the U.S. alone (3). If youâ€™ve been diagnosed with Hashimotoâ€™s, youâ€™re definitely not alone. Read this next to learn about the symptoms of a thyroid problem.
Standard treatments for Hashimotoâ€™s include close monitoring of the disease, taking synthetic thyroid hormones, and sometimes surgery, if the disease has significantly progressed (1). None of these treatments, however, address the underlying problems that cause the disease (1). New research indicates the importance of gut bacteria when diagnosing and treating Hashimotoâ€™s (4).
What It’s Like Living with Hashimoto’s
Whatâ€™s Bacteria Got to Do With It?
Research published in the journal Thyroid found that differing levels of gut microbiota are significant factors in the development of autoimmune diseases (4). Basically, when you have Hashimotoâ€™s, the levels of bacteria in the gut are thrown out of whack. The research was conducted through a cross-sectional study of 28 Hashimotoâ€™s patients and 16 healthy controls (4).
The study found that Hashimoto patients had lower levels of microbiota that help with immune function (5). Participants with Hashimotoâ€™s were also found to have higher ratios of two types of microbiota, which are only healthy at lower ratios (5). This phenomenon can be attributed to a number of factors that are toxic to gut bacteria including increased availability of over-the counter-medications, chlorinated drinking water, pesticide and herbicide use, and widespread use of antibacterial cleansers to name a few (8).
Which Came First, the Gut Imbalance or Hashimotoâ€™s?
As this was a cross-sectional study and was conducted on a relatively small group of participants, it is difficult to pinpoint causation. Associations between dysbiosis, an imbalance of gut bacteria, and Hashimotoâ€™s are evidently present, however, conclusions as to which comes first are unable to be drawn from this study (5).
What does this mean for Hashimotoâ€™s?
The studyâ€™s primary purpose was to improve diagnostic abilities for Hashimotoâ€™s, but the importance of gut health when it comes to autoimmune diseases is certainly evident. Autoimmune disorders often stem from a condition known as leaky gut syndrome, which is more evidence that gut health is an essential component to Hashimotoâ€™s (1).
Leaky Gut Syndrome and Autoimmune Disorders
Many scientists today believe that in order to solve a thyroid problem, leaky gut syndrome must be addressed first (1). A leaky gut occurs when larger holes form in the lining of the intestines and particles such as gluten escape through small openings into the bloodstream (1). When people with thyroid issues, like Hashimotoâ€™s, go on a gluten-free diet, they often notice better thyroid functioning and reduced symptoms immediately (1). Makes sense, right?
Healing Foods for Hashimotoâ€™s and Leaky Gut
If you have Hashimotoâ€™s, there are certain foods you can eat to heal your gut and manage the symptoms of the condition.
- Probiotic-rich foods: Probiotics are widely researched, beneficial bacteria that have been proven to heal the gut (1). Overall, probiotics improve nutrient extraction and digestion (6). Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like fermented veggies, goatâ€™s milk yogurt, and kefir can greatly improve your Hashimotoâ€™s symptoms (1).
- Fresh fruit and veg: Fruits and vegetables have a number of redeeming qualities about them â€“ they contain antioxidants, minerals and vitamins, and fiber (1). Low sugar fruits, such as berries and apples, and colourful vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, and beets, are best to incorporate into your diet (7). The fiber in these fruits and vegetables helps with digestive health while the antioxidants reduce inflammation (2). Increase your intake of this group of superfoods to fight off Hashimotoâ€™s!
- Coconut oil: Coconut oil doesnâ€™t just make your hair look better; it also facilitates a healthy metabolism, nourishes the gut, and increases energy levels when ingested (1).
- Beans and sprouted seeds: Sprouted seeds such as chia seeds, hemp, and flax provide a beneficial omega-3 fat that balances hormones (1). Beans are high in fiber, which can greatly assist in the digestive process (1).
Hashimotoâ€™s Thyroiditis is not a pleasant condition to live with but emerging research has provided hope for the future. In the meantime, there are a number of dietary changes you can make to improve your quality of life. Remember â€“ you are what you eat! Learn about natural ways to heal Hashimoto’sÂ here.
(1) Natural Remedies for Hashimotoâ€™s Disease. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://draxe.com/hashimotos-disease/
(2) Mincer, D.L., Jialal, I. (2017, November 16). Thyroid, Hashimoto Thyroiditis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29083758
(3) Milas, K. (n.d.). Hashimotoâ€™s Thyroiditis Overview. Retrieved from https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/hashimotos-thyroiditis/hashimotos-thyroiditis-overview
(4) Zhao, F., Feng, J., Li, J., Zhao, L., Liu, Y., Chen, H., Jin, Y., Zhu, B., Wei, Y. (2018, February 1). Alterations of the Gut Microbiota in Hashimotoâ€™s Thyroiditis Patients. Thyroid, 28 (2), 175-186. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/thy.2017.0395
(5) Shomon, M. (2018, April 18). Hashimotoâ€™s and Your Gut. Retrieved from https://www.healthcentral.com/article/thyroid-and-your-gut
(6) Wentz, I. (2017, August 18). The Best Probiotics for Hashimotoâ€™s. Retrieved from https://thyroidpharmacist.com/articles/the-four-best-probiotics-for-hashimotos/
(7) Ware, M. (n.d.). The best diets for Hashimotoâ€™s thyroiditis. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321197.php
(8) Williams, D. (n.d.). Lifestyle Habits That Damage Gut Bacteria. Retrieved from https://www.drdavidwilliams.com/lifestyle-habits-that-damage-gut-bacteria