There are an estimated 20 million people in the U.S. who have some form of thyroid disease. As many as 60 percent of those people don’t even know. Women are five to eight times more likely than men to develop thyroid disorders.
Hypothyroidism is the most common form of thyroid disease and affects nearly 5 out of every 100 Americans ages 12 or older. Your thyroid can not produce enough thyroid hormone due to a malfunctioning pituitary gland. Your pituitary gland sends thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) to your thyroid. The hypothalamus, which is responsible for managing hunger, thirst, sleep, hormones and body temperature, among other important functions, also monitors the level of thyroid hormones present in the bloodstream. If it determines energy levels are low, it sends out Thyroid Releasing Hormone (TRH) to your pituitary gland.
The primary output of your thyroid is T4. A much smaller percentage of the hormones produced are T3. T2 and T1 make up an even smaller percentage. The T3 enters cell membranes with the help of cortisol and regulates how much energy your mitochondria produce. Your mitochondria are the power plants of your cells and there are trillions of them in your body. Free T3 acts as a gas pedal for the mitochondria, revving up power production. Reverse T3 acts as a brake pedal, slowing down the power. When your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it can affect any or all of these separate systems, creating a wide array of symptoms that might seem unrelated yet can all be traced back to your thyroid.
Dr. Kakaru Hashimoto discovered the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 1912. Hashimoto’s causes your immune system to mistake your thyroid gland as a foreign invader.
Your thyroid produces an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (TPO), which is a vital component for producing thyroid hormones. When you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, your immune system creates TPO antibodies that are designed to attack the thyroid in a mistaken attempt to fight off what it believes to be a threat.
There can be many symptoms that are signs of Hashimoto’s. Some include: fatigue, depression, constipation, brain fog and poor concentration, weight gain or the inability to lose weight, cold hands or feet or decreased body temperature, low libido, infertility, decreased heart rate and hair loss.
Doctors can miss diagnosing thyroid problems. The symptoms of Hashimoto’s can be vague, leading doctors to brush them off as “women’s issues,” stress, aging or related to some other disease. Men are considered to be low risk for thyroid dysfunction, so they may not even get checked,
Other times doctors may not run a complete panel. Most conventional doctors only check TSH, but that does not tell the whole story. For a more accurate diagnosis, you also want to check your Free T4, Free T3 and Reverse T3 hormone levels. Determining whether you have Hashimoro’s, as opposed to just an underactive thyroid, is key because once you have one autoimmune condition, you are three times as likely to develop another.
Hashimoto’s or thyroid dysfunction can be missed even after a full range of thyroid tests because optimal reference ranges were not used. Doctors rely on “normal” reference ranges, which are too broad and often produce unreliable results. After the lab reference ranges for a healthy thyroid was created, they discovered that they included people who already had thyroid dysfunction.
There are natural solutions. If you have Hashimoto’s, or any autoimmune condition, repairing your gut is vital to reversing your symptoms. Nearly 80 percent of your entire immune system is located in your digestive tract. Gluten is one of the major causes of leaky gut. Leaky gut can also be caused or made worse by stress, gut infections, such as Candida overgrowth, antibiotics and the birth control pill. Many of these “foreign invaders” floating in your bloodstream look very similar to your own body’s cells. Your immune system can get confused and accidentally attack your tissues.
Four basic ways to repair the intestinal wall are: remove inflammatory foods, toxins, infections and parasites; remove the enzymes and acids necessary for proper digestion; re-inoculate with healthy bacteria; and repair the gut with the nutrients and amino acids it needs.
You need to optimize your diet. You might be stocking your kitchen with dairy, legumes, eggs, corn and soy. All of these foods could be contributing to your symptoms, because they can all contribute to inflammation and leaky gut. Gluten is the worst offender, but casein, the protein found in dairy, has similar molecular structure to gluten
Giving your body the nutrients it needs is just as important as removing toxic foods from your diet. There are four nutrients that key for optimal function: iodine, selenium, zinc and iron. Eating a diet rich in clean, whole foods will go a long way in boosting your levels of these critical nutrients. It’s always a good idea to take a high-quality multivitamin
We’re exposed to hundreds if not thousands of toxins every day. These toxins can accumulate in your body and impact your health in many ways. The toxins that pose the biggest threat to your thyroid are mercury, perchlorate and nitrates.
You can take steps to prevent your exposure to these toxins and to remove them from your body. You need to know how you’re being exposed and then minimize your exposure by filtering your water and air, choosing organic food and low-mercury fish, buying non-toxic body products, having a biological dentist safely remove amalgam fillings and making informed decisions about vaccines.
Heal your infections because there are several ways viral and bacterial infections may trigger Hashimoto’s. Your immune system mistakes your thyroid tissues for the virus or bacteria in your body and begins attacking. Infections can invade your thyroid gland or hide in its cells. When this happens, your immune system tries to kill the virus or bacteria and damages your thyroid.
You should also work on relieving your stress. When you experience stress, your adrenal glands kick in, producing and releasing a cascade of hormones. The flooding and eventual plummeting of stress hormones has many negative effects on your thyroid. We need to learn to relieve it. Deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, a run, whatever you need to do to prevent yourself from slipping into a state of chronic stress.