A widespread disease
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is one of the most common autoimmune diseases affecting about two to three times more women than men.
In the initial phase of Hashimoto's thyroiditis, abnormal inflammatory regulation in the diseased thyroid tissue can also lead to periods of hyperfunction. As the thyroid tissue gradually loses its function, the disease almost inevitably leads to hypothyroidism. In every tenth person in industrialized countries, we find elevated levels of antibodies against thyroid tissue in the blood.
We can safely assume that the regulation of genes, in particular through our lifestyles, plays an essential role (epigenetics). Stress and widespread deficiencies in micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, secondary plant substances, etc.) have an extremely adverse effect on the regulation of our genes. Many common environmental toxins such as pesticides from fruit, vegetables, and wine as well as the unavoidable toxic heavy metals also seem to play an integral role. In other words, we have a very definite influence on the disease and its course ourselves.
The trigger for Hashimoto's thyroiditis is abnormal regulation of the immune system. The pro-inflammatory part of our immune system (called TH1) becomes overactive, while the anti-inflammatory part (called TH2) fails to work sufficiently. Possible causes for the imbalance are permanent stress, chronic latent viral diseases, rare bacterial diseases and in particular environmental toxins and pollutants.
Today, about 70% of our Hashimoto patients have an inflamed small intestine known as "Leaky Gut." Through malnutrition - far too much gluten, too much cow's milk protein, too many synthetic food additives with too few vitamins and too few fibers - the inflamed small intestine ("Leaky Gut") lets substances penetrate into the bloodstream that a healthy intestine otherwise would not. These substances can damage the thyroid gland directly.
At the same time, many Hashimoto patients have an adrenal cortex deficiency, namely that the hormone DHEA is reduced and as a compensator, the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin, noradrenalin and often also dopamine (so-called catecholamine) are increased. Restoring this hormonal balance is a prerequisite for any Hashimoto treatment.
Here, too, we see that the human organs do not work in isolation on their own, but instead communicate with all other organs of the body in a complex process.
The Key to Hashimoto Therapy
Micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, amino acids, and secondary plant substances regulate the networking of the control loops between the brain, blood, and the thyroid gland. This controls the production and distribution of hormones and messenger substances of thyroid metabolism. Consuming the appropriate micronutrients is arguably one of the most useful and helpful methods of treating Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
For the neutralization of free radicals and other oxidation processes, natural antioxidant mixtures derived from fruit and vegetables have proven significantly more effective than synthetic compounds. Natural substances are more than 200 times more effective as antioxidants.
Omega-3 fats also have an anti-inflammatory effect and can reduce the severity of Hashimoto's disease.
A deficiency of the trace element iodine also has an adverse effect on thyroid metabolism and even on the immune system. On the other hand, unusually high doses of iodine - such as those used in contrast agent radiology examinations - could also trigger Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
Besides iodine, the trace element selenium has a central role in Hashimoto therapy. Selenium is also essential for thyroid metabolism. Several studies have shown the positive effect of selenium (100 to 200 μg sodium selenite per day) in autoimmune thyroiditis. Antibodies against thyroid peroxidase (TPO autoantibodies) can be reduced. In cases of hypothyroidism, it is essential to prescribe selenium.
Vitamin D deficiency also proved to be detrimental to Hashimoto's disease.
But a high-quality, natural micronutrient product contains more than just vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids; it should also include a range of secondary plant substances. These substances such as flavonoids from grapes, green tea or broccoli are particularly effective in reducing autoimmune activities.
Nutrition with Hashimoto
You should eat as few carbohydrates as possible (less bread, fewer noodles and less rice), but considerably more vegetables and some fruit (sugar and acid). Too many of the cereal-based fillers, especially wheat, promote inflammation and disrupt the fatty acid balance.
Another important factor influencing the regulation of inflammation is the amount of (mainly industrial) trans fatty acids from fried and deep-fried foods in our daily diet. Eat more fresh fish instead and use as many different vegetable oils as possible in the kitchen. The high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids in these two foods helps maintain the balance of fats, regenerate cell membranes and reduce inflammation.
Use fresh herbs and spices. Their high content of trace elements is essential for thyroid metabolism and the prevention of inflammation. Herbs also support the immune system and help detoxify tissue.
Toxins as a cause of chronic inflammation
Besides the nutrition and micronutrient supply already mentioned, common toxin exposure of the body has a decisive influence. Current findings show that exposure to heavy metals, pesticides and organochlorine compounds (e.g., plastics) and numerous other everyday toxins can trigger thyroid inflammation. This makes it all the more important to maintain a healthy organic diet and a fundamentally balanced supply of micronutrients, essential for detoxification and inflammation inhibition. Natural micronutrient supplements containing detoxifying herbal extracts such as wild garlic, nettle or dandelion are preferable.
Of course, smoking as an environmental toxin deserves mention here. Smoking damages the thyroid gland through the pharmacological effects of nicotine as well as through the multitude of toxins in cigarette smoke (especially benzpyrenes). Moreover, the negative effects of passive smoking and adverse effects on unborn children have been proven. We now know that particularly important antioxidant enzymes like vitamin C are significantly depleted in the cells of smokers. For example, the activity of the detoxification enzyme "superoxide dismutase" (SOD) was markedly reduced in young smokers.