Diet and lifestyle can significantly influence symptom management and are not usually part of the normal treatment protocol. Given that many autoimmune diseases are triggered by inflammation, one of the most important places to start is by removing inflammatory foods from the diet. Below are some tips for making these important dietary changes:
Get screened for celiac disease and then remove gluten from your diet
There is a higher prevalence of celiac disease among those with autoimmune thyroiditis (including both HT and Graves’ disease), and one small study showed that those with HT improved thyroid hormone output and reduced thyroid autoimmunity by following a gluten free diet (2). Before switching to a gluten free diet, get tested for celiac disease. This autoimmune disease tends to run in families, so it is important for future generations to have that information. A gluten free diet means that absolutely no gluten is allowed. Gluten is predominantly found in wheat, barley and rye, but can lurk in other places such as soy sauce, food colorings and additives and even broths.
Cut out processed foods, added sugars and fried foods
Basically anything that is not a whole food can trigger an inflammatory reaction. These foods have the potential to disrupt your gut microbiome and trigger a leaky gut which increases systemic, low-grade inflammation in your body. HT increases the oxidative stress markers in your body, so removing these inflammatory foods from your diet can help better manage symptoms and thyroid hormone production (3).
Experiment with a 30-day dairy challenge
Lactose intolerance is very common among those with autoimmune diseases. Non-organic milk can also be inflammatory. Try removing dairy for 30 days to see if symptoms improve. If dairy is tolerated, consider switching to organic milk from smaller dairy farms.
Round out your diet with plenty of fruit, vegetables and lean proteins
Fruits and vegetables are the powerhouse foods that provide antioxidant support to the body. Additionally, grass fed beef and wild caught fatty fish are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids which help reduce inflammation. Additionally, whole foods are the best sources of many of the important vitamins and minerals that are essential for thyroid health, including selenium, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, iron and B vitamins.
Aside from diet, there are a few lifestyle changes that can help manage HT symptoms.
- Focus on rest: thyroid hormones are important for metabolism, and when the body is unable generate energy efficiently, fatigue sets in. Accepting your disease and recognizing that rest is imperative to healing is an enormously important first step.
- Reduce stress: Stress can trigger inflammation, so practicing stress-reducing activities like yoga or meditation can do wonders for your symptoms.
If you need help managing your HT diagnosis and feel overwhelmed about where to start, please click here to schedule a quick free call with me. I can help you navigate the nutrition noise that comes with managing an autoimmune disease and get you on the path to feeling better.