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Living with autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s Disease)

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What is it?The thyroid is a small gland situated at the base of the throat which controls the body’s metabolism (the rate at which the body works). In most cases, hypothyroidism is because the thyroid cells begin to fail and so produce less thyroid hormone (thyroxine). This can be caused by:

  • Autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s Disease) where the body’s immune system becomes hypersensitive and attacks the thyroid cells preventing the manufacture of sufficient levels of hormone
  • Surgery that has removed part of the thyroid gland
  • Radioactive treatment to treat an overactive thyroid gland
  • Drug treatment (lithium)
  • Lack of (or too much) iodine in the diet
SymptomsIn hypothyroidism, the rate of metabolism is decreased resulting in the following symptoms:

Low energy, feeling sluggish and tired, feeling cold, dry skin, hair loss, muscle pain, poor memory, weight gain, constipation, frequent infections

Essential NutrientsThe following are necessary for healthy thyroid function:

· Tyrosine is necessary to make the hormone produced by the thyroid (thyroxine). It is found in butterbeans, fish, almonds, bananas, avocados and pumpkin seeds.

· Iodine is an essential constituent of thyroxine. The best sources include seafood (fish, shellfish, seaweed). It is also found in mushrooms, Swiss chard, butterbeans and sesame seeds.

· Selenium is important for the conversion of thyroxine (T4) into its active form, (T3). The best source is brazil nuts. It is also found in sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, shellfish, mushrooms lentils and brown rice.

Dietary RecommendationsIn general:

· Try to avoid foods that interfere with the uptake of iodine and tyrosine. This includes cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, mustard greens, soybeans, millet, pine nut and peanuts. The main problem occurs when these foods are eaten raw or in excess. However, it is believed that cooking inactivates this, therefore, cook well but eat in moderation.

· Eat more iodine, tyrosine and selenium rich foods (see previous page)

· Minimise saturated fat intake (from red meat and dairy) and increase essential fatty acid intake (from fish, nuts and seeds). This helps to keep the liver healthy for the conversion of thyroxine into its active form.

To strengthen the immune system:

  • In combination with above, consider eliminating gluten grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley), dairy, eggs, citrus, tea, coffee, chocolate or soy for 14 days. Reintroduce one per week and monitor results to determine if a sensitive.
  • Try to keep stimulants to a minimum. This includes tea, coffee, alcohol, chocolate and fizzy drinks which over stress the adrenal glands. Adrenal stress is thought to disrupt other hormone producing glands including the thyroid gland.
  • Drink plenty of water. Green tea is thought to contain nutrients that can help with autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s Disease
  • If possible, reduce your sugar intake. Sugar weakens the immune system and puts extra stress on the adrenal glands. This means replacing confectionery snacks with foods such as nuts and seeds, low sugar bars (Food Doctor, Lyme Regis fruit Bars, 9 Bar)
  • Try to eat at least 5 potions of fruit and vegetables which will provide essential nutrients for thyroid function such as vitamins A, C, and B, manganese and zinc.
Lifestyle
  • Where possible, minimised the amount of stress you experience. Stress puts a strain on the adrenal glands to produce increasing amounts of cortisone. This will eventually reduce the conversion of thyroxine into its active form, overloading the body with inactive thyroxine and overloading the liver
  • Taking more exercise helps to stimulates hormone secretion and tissue sensitivity to thyroxine. A 30 minute walk each day can also reduce stress hormone levels
Further InformationWebsites:

  • www.thyroiduk.org
  • www.british-thyroid-association.org

Books:

  • Life Force: The revolutionary 7-step plan for optimum energy
  • Hashimoto’s Protocol by Izabella Wentz

Learn more about how the thyroid works in my latest book, Life Force. The revolutionary 7-step plan for optimum energy’.

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