Hashimoto’s is one of the most common disorders of the thyroid gland. It is an autoimmune disorder, which means that it is caused by our own immune systems attacking the tissue of the thyroid gland. This causes the thyroid gland to produce less hormones over time, resulting in hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is often genetic, so other family members may have the same condition. It most frequently is diagnosed in middle-aged women; however, it can occur across all ages and genders.
The Thyroid Gland
The thyroid is a small organ, shaped like a butterfly, that sits at the bottom of the neck below the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple). The thyroid gland is involved in many body functions including metabolism and body weight, respiratory rate, heart rate, digestion, menstrual cycles, body temperature, and cholesterol. The thyroid is controlled by the pituitary gland, which signals to the thyroid gland to indicate how much thyroid hormone should be released.
In Hashimoto’s, the pituitary gland is signaling for more thyroid hormones to be released, but the thyroid is not able to release more hormones. When there is not enough thyroid hormone, people experience weight gain, fatigue, cold intolerance, constipation, poor concentration, and trouble sleeping. It is easily diagnosed with a blood test and it is treated with thyroid replacement medication, which your doctor will prescribe.
Nutrition cannot treat Hashimoto’s, but it can help with symptom management. Since hypothyroidism can cause people to have elevated cholesterol, following a heart-healthy diet including lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is recommended. Generally, eating small, frequent meals with adequate fiber and protein is beneficial.
There is no short supply of nutrition advice for Hashimoto’s available online, most of which indicates that people should remove certain foods to improve or even cure their hypothyroidism. There is little to no evidence that removing these foods from your diet will improve Hashimoto’s symptoms and none to indicate that any nutrition changes are curative.
If you have Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, please contact us at 410-370-0415 to learn how a Nourish dietitian can help you manage your symptoms.