Hashimoto’s Disease: When the immune system turns against you

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Hashimoto’s Disease, also called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, occurs when the immune system turns against the body’s own tissues. The immune system directly attacks the thyroid. This then leads to hypothyroidism, which is when the thyroid isn’t making the necessary hormones for proper body functioning. The thyroid plays a leading role in our body, as it is the controller of our metabolism. Without the right hormones, how quickly our body uses calories from what we eat, can be greatly impacted. It is the most common thyroid disorder, affecting 14 million people in the United States.

Symptoms of Hashimoto’s include having an enlarged thyroid. The front of the neck (where the thyroid is located) looks swollen. Symptoms associated with an underactive thyroid, due to the lack of hormone production, include fatigue, weight gain, cold body temperature, hair thinning and loss, depression, irregular menstrual cycles for women, and joint and muscle pain.

The exact cause is not known. There is a strong genetic component. Hormones play a major role, especially since Hashimoto’s is seven times more common in woman than in men. Its primary target is middle-aged women. Many women experience thyroid problems after child birth, and about 20% of these women develop Hashimoto’s later on. Certain medications that have a lot of iodine can cause this problem. Radiation exposure also can lead to thyroid troubles. In fact, the atomic bombs of Japan lead to this disease in many people. Then this can be passed on genetically.

Unfortunately, there is no cure. The medical community is not sure what causes autoimmune disorders. Getting help is important in order to prevent the progression of the disease. If left untreated women can experience problems with fertility and the risk of high cholesterol increases. There are some self-care, natural approaches to try to improve or prevent this condition. This starts with your diet. Making sure your diet consists of enough selenium, zinc, vitamin D, and iron. Foods to include would be red meat, poultry, beans, and dark vegetables. If you do not eat meat, do understand that plant sources are not as absorbable, but taking vitamin C can help with this. Foods you should minimize and eliminate include those that cause inflammation. These include gluten, sugar, artificial sweeteners, soy, and dairy. Gut health is critical so making digestion as clean and easy as possible is important. Avoiding toxins can help too such as plastics, beauty products, and air fresheners or candles. Keep your air clean.

Thyroid disease is becoming a major problem. Nearly 20 million Americans have some form of the disease. Diagnosis isn’t always clear at first, but we know when we don’t feel right Don’t give the thyroid any more power than it already has. Hormones might be tyrant rulers, but we can control our actions and attitude towards feeling our best. Autoimmune diseases are unpredictable. The thyroid greatly influences our metabolism, so our weight is readily affected by its functioning. Although our genetic makeup can leave us powerless, we do have the ability to control our response, adherence to medical help, and ability to keep a positive outlook despite medical situations.

https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/92/7/E1/2623138

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28315909/

https://thyroidresearchjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1756-6614-6-S2-A60

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hashimotos-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20351855

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Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has an M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, is a current candidate for her Doctorate in Health & Human Performance, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor.