The Connection Between Leaky Gut and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Leaky Gut and Hashimoto's ThyroiditsHashimoto’s Thyroiditis is a common autoimmune disorder that affects the thyroid gland, leading to a variety of symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and mood disturbances. While its exact cause remains unclear, recent research has shed light on the link between Hashimoto’s and a condition known as “leaky gut.” In this article, we’ll explore what leaky gut is, its potential role in the development of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and how managing gut health may help individuals with this autoimmune thyroid disorder.

Understanding Leaky Gut

Leaky gut, scientifically known as increased intestinal permeability, is a condition that occurs when the lining of the small intestine becomes compromised, allowing substances that should stay in the digestive tract to leak into the bloodstream. The gut lining, primarily composed of tight junctions, acts as a barrier to regulate the passage of nutrients and prevent harmful substances from entering the body.

However, various factors can damage these tight junctions, including:

  • Poor diet: Consuming a diet high in processed foods, sugar, and artificial additives can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and weaken the gut lining.
  • Chronic stress: Prolonged stress can lead to inflammation in the gut, contributing to increased permeability.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and antibiotics, may affect gut health.
  • Environmental toxins: Exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants can have adverse effects on the gut lining.

The Link Between Leaky Gut and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Researchers have found a potential connection between leaky gut and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. While the exact mechanism is still being investigated, several factors suggest how these two conditions may be related:

  • Immune system dysfunction: Leaky gut can trigger an immune system response as foreign substances leak into the bloodstream. This constant activation of the immune system may lead to an autoimmune response, where the body mistakenly attacks its thyroid gland, as seen in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
  • Molecular mimicry: Some substances that enter the bloodstream due to leaky gut might resemble thyroid tissue. This similarity can confuse the immune system and lead it to attack both the invading substances and the thyroid gland.
  • Inflammation: Leaky gut is associated with chronic inflammation, which can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.
  • Nutrient absorption: A compromised gut lining can impair the absorption of essential nutrients, including selenium and zinc, which are crucial for thyroid function. Deficiencies in these nutrients may exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms.

Managing Leaky Gut to Support Thyroid Health

If you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and suspect that you may also have leaky gut or want to prevent it, consider the following strategies:

  • Dietary changes: Adopt a diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Minimize or eliminate processed foods, gluten, and dairy, as they can contribute to gut inflammation.
  • Gut-friendly supplements: Probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes may help restore gut health and balance the gut microbiome.
  • Stress management: Incorporate stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to lower stress levels and minimize gut inflammation.
  • Identify and treat underlying conditions: Address any food sensitivities, allergies, or infections that may be contributing to leaky gut.
  • Medication management: Consult with a healthcare provider to evaluate whether any medications you are taking could be affecting your gut health and discuss potential alternatives.

While the connection between leaky gut and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is still a subject of ongoing research, there is evidence to suggest that gut health plays a role in autoimmune thyroid disorders. By taking steps to support a healthy gut, individuals with Hashimoto’s may find relief from their symptoms and potentially slow the progression of the disease. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance on managing your thyroid health and gut issues.

The Role of Diet in Managing Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's Thyroiditis Nutrition

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune thyroid disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland, leading to inflammation and eventual thyroid hormone deficiency. While medication is a standard treatment for this condition, there’s growing interest in how diet can play a role in managing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and alleviating its symptoms. In this article, we’ll explore the relationship between diet and Hashimoto’s and provide practical dietary tips for managing the condition.

Understanding Hashimoto’s and Diet

It’s important to clarify that there’s no specific “Hashimoto’s diet” that can cure the condition. However, the foods you eat can have a significant impact on how you feel and how your thyroid functions. Here are some dietary considerations for managing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis:

1. Gluten and Hashimoto’s

Some studies suggest a connection between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and gluten sensitivity. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Research indicates that individuals with Hashimoto’s may benefit from a gluten-free diet. Gluten sensitivity can trigger inflammation in the gut, potentially exacerbating autoimmune responses in people with Hashimoto’s.

If you suspect gluten sensitivity, consider trying a gluten-free diet for a few months. Monitor your symptoms and consult with a healthcare professional to assess whether it makes a difference for you.

2. Selenium-Rich Foods

Selenium is a trace mineral that plays a crucial role in thyroid function. It is a component of enzymes that help convert T4 (thyroxine) into the more active T3 (triiodothyronine) hormone. Including selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, and fish in your diet may support thyroid health. However, it’s essential not to overdo it, as excessive selenium intake can be harmful.

3. Iodine Intake

Iodine is another essential mineral for thyroid function. While iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, excessive iodine intake can worsen autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto’s. It’s crucial to strike a balance. Most people in developed countries get enough iodine through their regular diets, so supplementing with iodine is generally not recommended unless advised by a healthcare professional.

4. Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts contain compounds known as goitrogens, which can interfere with thyroid function when consumed in large amounts. However, cooking these vegetables can reduce the goitrogenic effects. Most people with Hashimoto’s can safely include moderate amounts of cooked cruciferous vegetables in their diets.

5. Nutrient-Rich Foods

A well-balanced diet rich in nutrients is essential for overall health and can support your immune system. Include a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains in your meals to ensure you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals.

6. Food Sensitivities

In addition to gluten, some individuals with Hashimoto’s may have sensitivities to other foods, such as dairy or soy. Pay attention to how your body responds to different foods, and consider an elimination diet or food sensitivity testing to identify potential triggers.

7. Consult a Registered Dietitian

Every person with Hashimoto’s is unique, and dietary needs can vary. Consulting a registered dietitian who specializes in thyroid disorders can be immensely helpful. They can work with you to create a personalized diet plan that takes into account your specific needs and preferences.

Conclusion

While diet alone cannot cure Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it can play a crucial role in managing the condition and improving your overall well-being. Experimenting with dietary changes under the guidance of a healthcare professional or dietitian can help you identify foods that make you feel better and reduce symptoms. Remember that managing Hashimoto’s is a holistic approach, and medication prescribed by your healthcare provider remains a cornerstone of treatment.

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Losing Weight With Hashimoto’s: Update #1

Fitbit FlexIt’s been about 6 months since I started taking selenium on a daily basis and about 2 months since I started dieting and exercising. Just this past Friday, I had a medication follow-up visit with my doctor. I left her office feeling like I was walking on air. I had lost 6 pounds since my last visit with her in April and 12 pounds since I started this weight loss journey. She said my lab results looked great. I told her I’d been using my Fitbit and synched it with MyFitnessPal. She uses both as well and she gave me tips on certain functionality in the app, as well as nutritional tips like adjusting the macros from 50% carbs/30% fat/20% protein to 50% carbs/25% fat/25% protein. She was almost as excited as I was and she was extremely encouraging and motivational.

It has not been easy and I’m sure it will get harder. Have I cheated? Oh, yes, I have. In fact, that evening after my doctor’s visit, hubby and I went out for a big Mexican meal. But, I don’t kick myself when I do cheat (or celebrate). Tomorrow is another day and I continually vow to do better when I fail. I do allow myself more leeway on the weekends, with only a 250 calorie deficit instead of 500. After all, Sunday is pizza night. But I do it in moderation and so far I’ve only backslid on my weight once. I picked myself back up, hopped on the stationary bike, and worked off some of those calories.

I’ve started walking the 0.6 miles from the light rail station to work instead of taking a shuttle. It isn’t easy, since it’s uphill (both ways, there’s a hill between the station and my building). Slowly, but surely, I’m feeling stronger. I’m feeling muscles under there that I used to be well acquainted with when I was an athlete, *mumble mumble* pounds ago. I ride my stationary bike in the evenings. I make small changes to add more activity to my day. I sync and check my Fitbit app frequently throughout the day so I get feedback on how I’m doing. That spurs  me to get up and move a bit or lets me know I’m right on target. I plan my meals to stay under my calorie allotment for the day and I log everything (including coffee creamer, vitamins, etc) in MyFitnessPal. If I want to eat more, I have to earn it with exercise.

I am not pushing myself too hard yet. I know I can do more. But, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis has been devastating my body for so long that I know I need to heal a bit physically and lose some weight before I really push hard. Besides, I have to balance work, home, and my health, so I’m pacing myself.

My Fitbit is my best friend on this journey, with MyFitnessPal coming in a close second. Without their constant feedback and encouragement (yes, Fitbit will send you encouraging alerts on your cellphone and/or email), this would be a lot harder. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful that I can succeed in taking back my health and getting back in shape.

 

Losing Weight With Hashimoto’s

scaleFor many Hashimoto’s sufferers, weight gain is a major problem. Hashimoto’s causes hypothyroidism, which slows down the metabolism, leading to weight gain. As if losing weight wasn’t hard enough, losing weight with Hashimoto’s seems next to impossible. Believe me, I know.

The last thing you want to do after a long day at work is exercise. After all, you spent most, if not all, of your daily allotment of spoons there. What do you have left for exercise? Plus, you hurt. So many muscles of your body hurt due to inflammation that you just want to plop down on the couch and not move. And once there, you realize you’re craving carbs, so you get a snack, and maybe another. And you do this every day. Sound familiar? It does to me.

I have successfully lost weight with Hashimoto’s, but that was when I was younger. As I’ve gotten older and the disease has progressed, it feels next to impossible. My blood glucose is slowing creeping up and I’m headed towards diabetes. My cholesterol is a little too high. My blood pressure is a little too high. I don’t want to have to deal with heart disease. So, I need to do SOMETHING.

My first step in losing weight with Hashimoto’s, as you might have read in my blog post about selenium, was to start taking the supplement consistently every day. It has helped me feel so much better. I’ve been able to do physical activities that months ago I would have passed up. I was able to travel and walk around all day sightseeing on a recent trip while barely “paying for it” the next day with soreness. It has really helped. In addition, I’ve been talking Vitamin B-12, Vitamin C, and a daily multi-vitamin, since Hashimoto’s patients are prone to vitamin deficiency. Problems like leaky gut make it difficult for us to absorb vitamins and nutrients efficiently. I’ve been forcing myself to stay hydrated, which is a constant battle for me since I rarely feel thirsty.

My second step was to start wearing my FitBit every day. With the FitBit.com dashboard and iPhone app, I’m able to set a daily step goal and track it. It keeps me motivated to get up and move and burn off calories. It also allows me to link up with friends and challenge them to a little friendly competition to see who can get the most steps. I used to be an athlete, so I love a little competition. 🙂

If you have an Apple Watch or other fitness wearable, that works fine too, but I would recommend getting one that plays nice with the MyFitnessPal app. (Update: I actually switched to an Apple Watch after my Fitbit died and love it.)

My third step was to start using the MyFitnessPal app and website to track the calories, vitamins, and nutrients in the food I eat. I also track my exercise activities there. I’ve synced my FitBit to MyFitnessPal so it adjusts the amount of calories I’m allowed daily according to my activity level. This has made me more aware of the nutrition in the food I eat and my activity levels. If I want to have a special snack or treat, I’ve gotta get my butt moving to earn some extra calories for the day! It also helps that all my siblings use MyFitnessPal too, so we can all help keep each other accountable for our goals.

This is not easy. In fact, losing weight with Hashimoto’s is hard. It takes constant diligence and awareness, something I’m not really used to. But I’m motivated by several factors. First, I want to avoid Diabetes as long as possible. My dad has Type 1.5 Diabetes, my paternal grandfather had Diabetes, and my niece has Type 1 Diabetes. I see the struggle they go through. Due to genetics, I will probably eventually have to deal with it too, but there are things I can do right now to push back that possibility. Second, since I started taking selenium, I’ve seen that there are easy things I can do reduce the impact of Hashimoto’s. I have had days where I’ve felt almost normal, where I feel like I’m in remission. I want MORE of that! Third, there are so many things I’ve missed out on because of Hashimoto’s. So many times I scrapped plans to go out or travel or join friends because I wasn’t feeling well. I want to get out and see and experience the world again. This motivates me to take care of my health and get in shape.

I hope that there’s something in this blog post for you that makes losing weight with Hashimoto’s a little more manageable for you.

 

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Selenium

Hashimoto's and SeleniumWhile looking for relief from Hashimoto’s pain and inflammation, I came across an interesting book. It’s called “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause” by Izabella Wentz. In this book, Izabella, discusses Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Selenium. She’s a Pharmacist who also suffers from Hashimoto’s, so she knows what she’s talking about. She says many Hashimoto’s patients tend to have selenium deficiencies. Selenium is an anti-inflammatory and also helps with thyroid hormone conversion.

Izabella suggests that Hashimoto’s patients take 200mg of selenium supplements a day to help with inflammation and to lower antithyroid antibodies. Having suffered for many years from occasionally debilitating pain and inflammation, I decided I would try selenium supplementation to see if it made a difference.

I contacted my doctor to tell her my plans and get her approval first. She agreed that it wouldn’t hurt and I could give it a try. Well, I did and I have been very pleased. My average daily pain levels were usually around the 3-4 level on the pain scale. After being on selenium for a few weeks, I noticed a big difference. My ibuprofen use has been significantly reduced. My daily pain levels are down to about a 1. I am able to be more active. Getting up from a chair doesn’t result in “old person” groans. I have been able to do without other medications for my back problems. There have been days where I felt almost “normal”. I had forgotten what those felt like.

In addition, I recently had my anti-thyroid antibodies tested and they are down to 400, from over 1300! They are only a THIRD of what they used to be. I almost consider that a miracle. That’s life changing.

If you’re suffering painful inflammation, talk to your doctor about adding a selenium supplement to your diet. The smell and taste of the selenium supplement I take is a little off-putting, but the benefits are all worth it. I have found that the taste of the pill is less bothersome if I take it with a meal.

For those of you that need or want proof of the claims about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Selenium supplementation click here to read about the study.

Let us know if selenium has helped you!

Day Four of the “No Prilosec” Experiment…

heartburn…and I wish I could say I feel great, but to be perfectly honest, I hit a bump. I’m definitely having some acid reflux and heartburn issues today. I had to take a Prilosec before dinner. Also, I think the culprit is probably dairy… dammit! I love dairy. I’ve never had a problem with dairy before. Ugh. I’m going to experiment to see how my body reacts to dairy. If it is indeed a problem, I’ll have to cut way back. I’m not going promise to get rid of dairy altogether because I love the occasional ice cream and cheese, but I need to not be in pain all the time. So, sacrifices will have to be made.

Clearly, I have a lot of work left to do on my digestive issues, but I’m not giving up. I’m making changes slowly so I’m not overwhelmed. The hardest thing for me is to remember all the supplements to take, the foods to avoid, and foods to eat more of. It’s a lot to keep track of when my memory is so horrible from the Hashimoto’s in the first place. I’m going to have to get organized, take notes, and stay focused. I’ll let you know how that goes…

Healing Myself: Day 1

blueberriesAfter the misery of yesterday, I know I need to seriously adjust my diet. I didn’t eat particularly bad yesterday, but I think it was a few squares of dark chocolate that did me in. So, today, I skipped the Prilosec and although I’m still recovering from the horrific heartburn of yesterday, I’m doing better.

Last night, I sat down and made a list of anti-inflammatory foods and a list of acid reflux/heartburn trigger foods. I went shopping with my husband today to stock up on anti-inflammatory foods (well, I helped a tiny bit and sat the rest of the time because I’m so weak and fatigued right now). He’s an excellent cook, so he’s really going to be my biggest help in trying to eat better. With the list of the acid reflux triggers, I am keeping them in a handy spot to refer to so I can avoid them. It won’t be easy because I love my coffee and chocolate! I will include the lists in a later post. Tonight, I’m too tired and brain dead to focus on writing for any length of time.

Wish me luck!

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Heartburn

indigestionI took a 2-3 hour nap this evening and when I woke up, I was in serious pain. I knew it was heartburn as I’ve had it before, but some of the symptoms are eerily similar to a heart attack. There was a pain in my chest, pain right between my shoulder blades, pain in my throat, neck, jaw, and radiating down my arm. I took some baking soda in water and that seemed to help, and of course, I got relief once I started burping. Probably only a temporary fix, but it was so painful, I had to do it.

For the longest time, I assumed, because of my gastroenterologist, that my acid reflux was due to too much stomach acid. But doing a little research this week, I find that it may actually be due to too little stomach acid. I’ve tried a few days here and there of not taking my Prilosec and I did as well or better than days that I took it. In addition, proton pump inhibitors can cause problems absorbing vitamins like iron and B-12. Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis sufferers already have problems with iron and B-12 deficiency. I definitely have.

I suspect that my acid reflux may be more a problem with pressure on my abdomen than any problem with acid. So, I’m really going to push myself harder than ever before to drop weight and get all these problems under control. Tonight, I started by going on a walk with my husband after dinner. Later this week, I’m going to go shopping for an exercise bike.

I’m still in pain from the heartburn and it may be a long night, but I’m hopeful that I can beat this by educating myself, making better choices about the food I eat, and pushing myself to exercise even though I’m so exhausted. It would be lovely to remove one more medication from my long list of medications I have to take.

For more information about Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Heartburn/Acid Reflux:

Protein Digestion and Hashimoto’s

Is There A Thyroid and Acid Reflux Connection?