Understanding Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
By Stephanie Walsh, MNT, CEPC, CPT
Despite its tiny size, the thyroid has a big job controlling energy production for every cell in the body. The thyroid’s main role is regulating metabolism through two hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothy- ronine (T3). T4 is an inactive form which gets converted into T3 in the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, brain and muscles. It is the active form of T3 that stimulates cells to produce energy. The thyroid works in concert with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland to regulate thyroid hormone production. But, the health of your thyroid is also intricately tied to the health of your gastrointestinal tract, gut microbiome, liver, kidneys, adrenal glands and even your im- mune system.
Y Problems with thyroid function arise
when something throws off the delicate balance between any of these connections. Eventually thyroid hormone production gets out of whack, conversion of thyroid hormone into its active form falters, and/or thyroid tissue gets damaged. Compromised thyroid health may set the stage for a more debilitating autoimmune condition of the thyroid called Hashimoto’s.
What is Hashimoto’s Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, commonly
known as just Hashimoto’s, is an autoim- mune disease in which the body’s immune
22 ELM™ Maine - May/June 2019
our thyroid gland is a tiny butterfl y- shaped organ located at the base of your neck near the Adam’s apple.
system attacks the thyroid. This attack gradually destroys the thyroid tissue and its ability to produce critical hormones. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, Inc., approxi- mately 20% of the U.S. population suffers from autoimmune diseases and Hashimo- to’s is the most common. Even more shock- ing, thyroid diseases occur roughly fi ve times more frequently in women than men. With such prevalence, it’s very important to understand its causes and effects as well as how you can effectively prevent or treat this common condition.
Causes and Risk Factors As an autoimmune condition, Hashi-
moto’s arises from a dysfunctional immune system, not a dysfunctional thyroid. This means the condition is actually a symp- tom of a much deeper issue. Stress on the thyroid and/or immune system are at the root of Hashimoto’s and there are many stressors at play.
The fi rst thing to consider is an overac-
tive immune system. The primary cause for an overcharged immune system is infl am- mation. If the infl ammatory process never gets a rest, it stays in overdrive. This can occur because of:
• Infections, both chronic and acute • Injuries • Overload of toxins
• Diet lacking in antioxidants • Intestinal permeability or “leaky gut”
Additionally, there are other potential causes for Hashimoto’s:
• Exposure to radiation, through work or medical treatments.
• Excess exposure to environmental toxins, fl uoride and perchlorate in water, mercury and other heavy metals, lithium, and estrogens from pesticides and hormone creams or pills.
• Overconsumption, or defi ciency, of dietary iodine.
• Overconsumption of soy products and uncooked “goitrogenic” foods such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cassava, caulifl ower, kale, kohlrabi, millet, radishes, rutabaga and turnip.
• Leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, gut dysbiosis, nutrient defi ciencies and poor digestive health.
• Chronic blood sugar imbalance, insulin resistance and diabetes.
• Chronic infl ammation. • Hormonal imbalances.
• Liver, pituitary, hypothalamus and/or adrenal dysfunction.
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