FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - HASHIMOTO'S DISEASE
Q: What is Hashimoto's Disease, also known as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis?
A: Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your thyroid, the small gland at the base of your neck. The thyroid gland is responsible for producing hormones that correlate many of your body's natural functions such as metabolic rate, energy levels, body temperature, and more.
Q: What are signs and symptoms of Hashimoto's Disease?
A: Traditional symptoms we face can actually get confused with signs of general aging as well as extreme fatigue, temperature dysregulation, stiff joints or what's called "dead limbs" that appear like body parts have fallen asleep, heavy periods and more. If you're experiencing multiple symptoms and they've been ongoing for a while, it may be time to visit your Primary Care Physician.
Q: What if my PCP dismisses my symptoms or tests come back negative but I still don't feel right?
A: Unfortunately, most doctors are still testing for Hashimoto's Disease by only running TSH levels, which is only one of several tests that need to be ran to accurately discover the condition. Additional tests that should be requested are Free T4, Free T3, TgAb as well as anti-TPO. If your PCP refuses to run these additional tests, it might be time to switch doctors. Remember, YOU are the boss of your body, not your doctor.
***Important note, Hashimoto's Disease is NOT the same as Hypothyroidism. Please see image below for details.
Q: Is Hashimoto's Disease reversible?
A: The vast majority of doctors that specialize in hormonal care as well as thyroid specialists are seeing case studies where Hashimoto's Disease can indeed be put into remission but you will always be prone to fall back into it if you are not constantly monitoring lifestyle stressors as well as your diet. So it's important to know that if you've done consecutive tests where your antibodies are within the recommended range suggested by your doctor, thus going into remission, it does not mean we can simply jump back to our previous lifestyle habits. We have to constantly monitor stress levels and make sure we are maintaining a clean whole food based diet.
Q: What can I do to keep stress down?
A: The first thing we can do is become aware of our environments and how they are impacting our mental health, both home and work, since these two areas are where we spend the majority of our time. Now, paying our bills is important (obviously) but we have to ask if necessary what can we do to limit our work stressors? Some of my favorite calming activities I perform include writing in a gratitude journal, praying, deep breathing, or going for a hike.
Other strategies include prioritizing sleep, 7-8 hours minimum. Sleep is the greatest tool we can use to restore our bodies. The final thing to look at is our diet and exercise regimens. For the majority of women in particular, performing an elimination diet and/or removing gluten and dairy based foods are the first steps to reducing inflammation in the body. Also, if you're doing high-intensity forms of exercise such as CrossFit or Orange Theory, it might be time to give yourself a break or at least reduce the total volume and intensity. You'd be amazed with the results our clients have experienced just by reducing the amount of CrossFit they are doing and simply walking or stretching each day. Remember, as beneficial as exercise is, too much of it can have reverse effects.
Q: What diet should I be on if I do have Hashimoto's Disease?
A: Monitoring calories and making sure we are eating enough is crucial! With traditional nutrition coaching, it's often suggested we maintain an 80/20 rule where we eat high-quality meals 80% of the time and have "fun foods" 20% of the time. However, with Hashimoto's Disease, it's recommended that we stay within a 90/10 or even a 95/5 rule, at least when we are starting out to quickly have a positive impact on our bodies. The traditional elimination diet (with the removal of gluten and dairy-based products) we've seen to have the greatest impact on individuals that are suffering from Hashi's as opposed to other suggested diets like the "AIP" diet which can become overly restrictive. Remember to keep everything "whole-food" based so organic grass-fed meats and poultry, free range eggs, wild caught fish, fresh vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, and natural oils from coconuts, olives and avocados.
Q: What are the long-term effects if Hashimoto's goes undiagnosed?
A: Once you experience one autoimmune disease, you're prone to others. As mentioned before, Hashimoto's is a precursor to potentially being diagnosed with Hypothyroidism. Depending upon your genetic history, long-term effects can be different for everybody. Some have been known to experience goiters which can interfere with breathing and/or swallowing, heart failure, decreased sex drive, depression, skin conditions and more.
Q: Should someone with Hashimoto's be on a Keto or Intermittent Fasting diet?
A: Those that suffer from Hashimoto's typically suffer from a sex hormone imbalance as well as insulin issues, thus these two diets are not recommended. To convert Free T4 into Free T3, our body's need carbohydrates so without this important macronutrient, this conversion cannot take place, thus our levels when tested will always be at an imbalance. With Intermittent Fasting and going long periods without eating, our blood sugar levels can drop, thus causing our symptoms to actually become worse. I would first ask myself WHY I'm wanting to do these types of diets, is it to just lose weight by being in a caloric deficit? Well, you can do the exact same with eating frequently throughout the day while monitoring your caloric intake.
Q: Are there Hashimoto's Support Groups?
A: YES! Here is a link to Leigh Montgomery's Thriving Through Hashimoto's group.
Thank you so much to Leigh for joining me in this week's blog. If you'd like to watch our live FB video conversation, please see the recording here.
"Coach Taz" aka Taylor Rodriguez is the owner and head coach of Taz Fitness & Nutrition. He is a Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach located in Deltona, FL that coaches individuals online and in person. Taylor was a former partying pro wrestler turned fitness enthusiast after the economic downturn of 2008-2010. After losing almost 70 lbs, his new passion is to help struggling individuals find new confidence within themselves to achieve any goal that they see possible. To begin coaching with Taylor or to request a free consultation, contact us today.
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