I was recently diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the thyroid. (The picture above is a “happy thyroid” stuffed cushion from my doctor).
I suspected that I had thyroid problems for years and finally found a doctor who specializes in the autoimmune version of the disease (which presents much differently than traditional thyroid problems). Unlike basic hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Hashimotos patients can waver between having an overactive thyroid and having an under-active one.
I was diagnosed through a series of blood tests and a thyroid ultrasound. I have several nodules on my thyroid which will be monitored to make sure they don’t get any bigger.
I’ve made some health changes since finding out about Hashimotos and while I am also taking a low-dose thyroid medication (temporarily) I’ve also made some diet and lifestyle changes that were really helpful even before I started the medication and I wanted to share these.
I’m not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet. This post is sharing my personal experience for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.
One change I made immediately once I found out about my Hashimotos was to stop taking iodine. Iodine can be helpful for those with regular hypothyroidism but it can be fuel on a fire for those with autoimmune thyroid problems. Chris Kresser explains why:
“Because increased iodine intake, especially in supplement form, can increase the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Iodine reduces the activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (TPO). TPO is required for proper thyroid hormone production.
On the other hand, restricting intake of iodine can reverse hypothyroidism. In one study, 78% of patients with Hashimoto’s regained normal thyroid function with iodine restriction alone.”
As I talked about in this past post, there is some evidence that iodine may not be as harmful in the presence of enough selenium. Since there is still a lot of evidence on the negative effects of iodine with Hashimotos, I’m still avoiding it and consuming selenium rich foods.
Some research suggests that simply lowering iodine alone may help put autoimmune thyroid problems in to remission.
I found that some additional dietary changes were incredibly helpful in reducing my thyroid symptoms:
- I removed other foods that can be inflammatory, including nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc), eggs, nuts and seeds, dairy, natural sweeteners, and the obvious ones like grains and soy. Gluten and soy are completely out for me now since they can both make Hashimotos much worse.
- I focus on eating quality meats and fish, lots of green leafy vegetables cooked in coconut oil, some fruits (mainly berries) and bone broth at every meal (for the minerals and the gelatin.
- I consume at LEAST 4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day. Coconut oil can be helpful to the thyroid because of its high content of medium chain fatty acids and lauric acid. (I didn’t gain weight doing this and actually lost weight)
- I make sure that even with the additional dietary restrictions, I’m consuming enough carbs from starchy vegetables and fruit as a really low-carb diet can be hard on the thyroid.
I believe it is best to get nutrients from food whenever possible, but I had depleted levels of some nutrients and needed specific supplements to help improve my levels. Diet changes and adding these supplements made a tremendous difference in reducing my symptoms (skin issues, fatigue, etc) and I notice when I don’t take it. Here’s what worked for me:
- Glutathione each morning (I use this one) under my tongue. Glutathione is a strong antioxidant that helps balance hormones and boost the immune system . I definitely notice a difference when I don’t take it.
- Vitamin D – Even though I spend a lot of time in the sun during the summer and take Vitamin D during the winter, I was deficient in Vitamin D. This is relatively common with thyroid problems and I’m using a Vitamin D Serum to help bring my levels up. Vitamin D is also necessary to help transport thyroid hormone in to cells.
- Vitamin C – My cortisol was high at night, indicating adrenal stress so I added a quality Vitamin C with each meal since Vitamin C is helpful in reducing adrenal stress.
- Probiotics– I was already consuming probiotic rich foods and taking a probiotic supplement, I started consuming even more probiotics as gut health is important for dealing with any autoimmune disease. I take these now daily.
I was already trying to do these things but I made them an absolute priority once I found out about my thyroid condition:
- Sleeping by 10 PM every night – In all honesty, this still doesn’t happen all the time with kids, but I’m definitely trying.
- Active relaxation – Making a point to do things that are relaxing and stress-reducing to me.
- Rebounding – I talked before about this, but I spend a few minutes a day jumping on a mini-trampoline to get my blood flowing and increase lymph drainage.
- Exercise – I’m also making exercise a priority, but concentrating on low-impact exercise like walking and weight training rather than extended cardio.
These are factors that have been incredibly helpful to me in reducing the symptoms of my Hashimotos autoimmune disease. It was such a long road to get a diagnosis and I saw several doctors before finally getting answers.
These changes made a big difference for me even before I started taking the thyroid medication, and many of these factors are helpful to those with autoimmune disease.
Have you tried any of these things to help boost your thyroid? What other changes have you made that has helped? Share below!