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The thyroid gland is a key player in many important functions in the body. When it isn't working properly, it can set off a cascade of events that create major health issues. That's why an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's that damages the thyroid can be a real problem. If you have Hashimoto's thyroiditis, then you'll want to do what you can to support the healing of your immune system and thyroid gland. Eating a healthy Hashimoto's disease diet is a great place to start.
But what makes for a good diet for this autoimmune disease? What foods and nutrients do you need? I believe there are a few key nutrients that can really help you start finding relief from this condition.
Read on to learn about these top four nutrients and how they can support your healing.
In this article, I will cover:
- What is Hashimoto's disease?
- Symptoms of Hashimoto's.
- What triggers this autoimmune condition?
- 4 of the best nutrients for healing.
- Other healthy Hashimoto's disease diet tips.
- The bottom line on Hashimoto's disease and diet.
What is Hashimoto's disease?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the base of your neck. It has many vital functions in the body. It is most well known for its role in metabolism, but it does more than just that.
The thyroid gland:
- Produces thyroid hormones (called T3 and T4).
- Regulates metabolic rate.
- Is involved in heart and muscle function.
- Plays a role in growth and development.
- And much more.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is a hypothyroidism condition. Hypothyroidism means that thyroid function is below normal, rather than above normal as can happen with a hyperthyroid condition. When the thyroid is under-functioning, not enough thyroid hormones are produced. This can cause many issues. As we saw above, the thyroid has a lot of key roles in the body.
But why does hypothyroidism occur in people who have Hashimoto's disease?
In the case of Hashimoto's, it isn't just a thyroid condition. It is an autoimmune problem at heart. In a healthy state, the immune system creates antibodies that attack foreign invaders (like bacteria) to keep us safe. But with autoimmunity, your body develops antibodies that attack itself, rather than the foreign invaders. The immune system essentially turns on us, and this can damage our cells and tissues.
With Hashimoto's disease, the immune system makes antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, damaging it and causing inflammation. That is why it is referred to as thyroiditis. The term "itis" refers to inflammation.
If you have this condition, you must remember that you don't just have a thyroid disease. You have an autoimmune problem as well. This means you must look at your immune function when searching for a solution. And you must address inflammation when treating your condition.
What triggers Hashimoto's in the first place?
I have worked with many, many people over the years who have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. And in almost every single case (if not 100% of cases), the autoimmune thyroid disease begins after a stressful event.
When I ask when the symptoms started, the response almost always includes some stressful event. The stress might be physical, emotional, or mental. For example, moving, getting divorced, changing jobs, losing a loved one, getting injured, or having some form of trauma occur can all act as triggers.
There is a huge connection between stress and immune deficiency issues.
That is because cortisol, the stress hormone, lowers the entire immune system function and reduces its ability to protect our bodies. After a stressful event, the immune system can sometimes turn on its own cells and cause autoimmune disorders like Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
So stress can trigger this autoimmune problem. And eventually, the damage to your thyroid will start to cause issues. It won't be able to function well, and your body will take a toll.
And when it does, you can get many different symptoms.
Symptoms of Hashimoto's
Because the thyroid influences such a wide range of functions in the body, the symptoms also affect the whole body.
When the thyroid doesn't work well, we get a slowed metabolism. Many of the symptoms of this autoimmune problem relate to metabolism, such as weight gain.
Some of the common symptoms of this autoimmune disease are listed below.
- Weight gain.
- Dry skin.
- Hair loss.
- Joint or muscle pain.
- Sensitivity to cold and difficulty getting warm.
If you are living with this condition, then you know how hard it can be. The symptoms can make daily life difficult, and it can feel really hopeless at times.
But there is hope. When we give our bodies the support it needs to get back on track, healing can happen.
So once we find ourselves with symptoms of hypothyroidism, what can we do about it? How can we help our thyroid gland to heal and begin functioning properly again?
We can look to our diets and certain nutrients for relief.
4 of the best nutrients for Hashimoto's disease
To support our thyroid function and improve Hashimoto's symptoms, we've got to do a few things. We've got to reduce inflammation, support immune function, and help the thyroid gland to ramp back up.
Everyone talks about iodine for hypothyroidism. And yes, you absolutely need iodine for making thyroid hormones and reversing hypothyroidism. Iodine from sea kelp is a great choice.
But there are some other really important minerals you need as well, that not as many people talk about. Those are what I want to share with you today. The lesser-known, but no less important nutrients.
I believe that four of the key nutrients to support Hashimoto's disease include selenium, vitamin D, vitamin A, and magnesium.
Below, I break down each of these four nutrients and how they can help your thyroid health if you have this condition.
I believe that selenium is just as important as iodine when it comes to Hashimoto's thyroiditis. It is a trace mineral that is involved in producing some key enzymes in the body.
- Helps in the conversion of T4 to T3. T4 is the inactive thyroid hormone, and T3 is the active form.
- Is involved in making something called glutathione, which is important for immunity and detoxification.
- Detoxes mercury.
- Decreases certain anti-bodies that prevent the production of thyroid hormones.
- Is vital in liver function.
You can get selenium from a high-quality supplement. Or, you can get it from food sources. These include Brazil nuts, seafood (like shrimp and oysters), eggs, and seeds.
2. Vitamin D.
People with Hashimoto's are almost always low in vitamin D. This vitamin is essential in keeping the immune system working. Without it, your immune system won't be able to function properly.
Vitamin D will help get immune function back in balance, and it will help reduce the inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis). Take vitamin D3 along with K2. These two work together and are a good anti-inflammatory combo.
A vitamin D supplement is a good way to go. You can also make sure you get regular exposure to natural sunlight to boost your levels. Cod liver oil is also a good healthy source of vitamin D.
3. Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is another nutrient that is important for immune function. It plays a role in allowing T3 to function well. Like vitamin D, it is almost always low in people with Hashimoto's. So getting it back up to a healthy level can really help out. Learn more about vitamin A and your thyroid here.
But you don't want to get vitamin A through eating lots of carrots, like you might think. The form of A in carrots is pre-vitamin A, not the active form. You need the retinol form, which is the active form.
Get good vitamin A from healthy sources like certain types of fish, cage-free egg yolks, or cod liver oil. Vitamins A and D are both fat-soluble and can be found in cod liver oil. That makes it a great choice. It provides a nice balance of these nutrients. And you can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. Learn more about cod liver oil here.
Magnesium is a mineral. It helps support the conversion of T4 to T3. Remember, T3 is the active form, which you need. So this conversion process is really key to upping thyroid function and helping relieve hypothyroidism.
Learn more about the health benefits of magnesium here.
You can get more magnesium through supplements, or through these healthy foods rich in this mineral (like spinach, avocado, and leafy greens).
Those are the top four nutrients I would recommend for Hashimoto's. Selenium, vitamins A and D, and magnesium. Getting more of each of these is key. They can help support immune function, reduce inflammation, and speed up the thyroid. That will help you get on your way to feeling relief.
A healthy Hashimoto's disease diet
So, we've covered some of the key nutrients you need to be getting if you want to support your autoimmune hypothyroidism.
But what else can you do to help yourself out? What other diet tips can be useful?
When it comes to a healthy Hashimoto's disease diet, here are some other ideas:
- Do keto and intermittent fasting. The ketogenic diet can be really good for this thyroid problem. When you are doing keto, your body actually needs less thyroid hormones. So help your body out by lowering the demand. Try my Healthy KetoTM eating plan. And give intermittent fasting a go as well. For people with hypothyroidism (who have a slow metabolism), working up to eating only one meal per day can be very helpful.
- Eat nutrient-dense foods. To get plenty of the nutrients listed above, as well as other healthy nutrients, pack your diet with healthy foods. Vegetables should play a starring role in your diet. Check out this list of 17 tips to get more veggies in your diet for ideas.
- Get enough iodine. You need iodine for the thyroid to work as it should. So you need iodine in your diet. Iodine-rich sea kelp is a great way to get your iodine levels up.
- Eat your cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies can be good for your thyroid, contrary to what you might have heard (learn more here). These veggies can actually help, unless you are deficient in iodine. But if you are also using sea kelp to boost iodine, you'll be just fine eating them.
- Support your liver and gallbladder. You need a healthy liver and gallbladder to convert thyroid hormones. Supporting these organs with the right things like bile salts can help. Check out my gallbladder formula, which can help speed up the thyroid.
The bottom line
Hashimoto's is an autoimmune condition. It happens when a stressful event triggers the immune system to start attacking the thyroid gland. Eventually, this autoimmunity damages the thyroid and causes symptoms.
Because Hashimoto's involves faulty immune function, it is different to treat than other hypothyroid conditions. The autoimmune piece is key. In this case, you have to address the immune component to improve your thyroid problem.
To review, there are some important nutrients you should include in a Hashimoto's disease diet if you want to find relief. My top four includes:
- Vitamin D.
- Vitamin A.
Making some diet and lifestyle changes can help you get enough of these. Below is a list of my top recommendations for using nutrition to support your healing.
- Use cod liver oil. This supplies you with vitamins A and D, which are really good for immune function and thyroid health.
- Get more selenium. Good food sources include Brazil nuts, seafood, eggs, and seeds. Taking a supplement might also be a good idea.
- Eat more magnesium. Healthy foods high in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, avocado, and leafy greens.
- Try keto and intermittent fasting. Keto with Hashimoto's can be a great idea. It can help support your thyroid health and your slowed metabolism. The diet includes lots of fat, some protein, and very little carbs. Do it the healthy way, with lots of veggies and good quality foods.
Also, make sure to get enough iodine. Cruciferous veggies are good, too. And you've got to keep your liver and gallbladder happy as well. You need those running smoothly to convert thyroid hormones.
The symptoms of this disease are no fun. You shouldn't have to suffer from fatigue, weight gain, and other unpleasant symptoms. If you have this condition, then do the list of tips above. Make sure to focus on the four key nutrients, and you should start to feel some relief.
Do you have Hashimoto's? What are your favorite tips for using diet to support your healing? Give these four nutrients a try, and let us know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments below.