Any Hashimoto thyroiditis treatment will greatly focus on the food you should eat and avoid, but the diet isn’t just good for your thyroid. Most of the time, foods related to the Hashimoto thyroiditis diet also affect your liver function.
Though it may seem odd for the liver and the thyroid to be so in-tune, the food substances and best practices listed below are directly related to the function of both body parts. This means that (lucky you!) the regulation of these substances and the application of the tips will keep both your liver and thyroid healthy.
In this article:
- What Is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
- What Causes Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
- What Are the Symptoms of Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
- How Do Doctors Diagnose Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
- What Are the Complications of Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto Thyroiditis Healthy Tips for Your Liver
What Is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
Before we talk about the treatment for Hashimoto thyroiditis that also takes care of your liver health, let’s first understand what the condition is for a little background.
Also known as Hashimoto’s disease, this condition happens when the body’s immune system unknowingly attacks the thyroid glands, often leading to the organ’s inflammation. The swelling caused by the condition can result in hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid.
This condition usually affects middle-aged women but does not limit to men and other ages. It can happen to anyone at any age.
What Causes Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
Medical experts are still searching for the reason why the immune system attacks the thyroid, causing Hashimoto’s disease. Several risk factors can contribute to the risk of developing this condition:
- Exposure to radiation
- Having other autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes mellitus Type 1
What Are the Symptoms of Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
In the early stages of the condition, you may not see signs and symptoms. Hashimoto’s disease gradually appears before it causes chronic thyroid damage and a drop in your thyroid hormones.
What you often experience are hypothyroidism symptoms, such as:
- Memory lapses
- Prolonged or excessive menstruation period
- Muscle weakness
- Joint stiffness and pain
- Muscle stiffness, tenderness, and aches
- Unexplained weight gain
- Tongue enlargement
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Puffy face
- Pale and dry skin
- Increased cold sensitivity
- Fatigue and sluggishness
How Do Doctors Diagnose Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
Doctors diagnose this condition based on the signs and symptoms and the blood testing results. Your physician may order an antibody test to monitor if you have anti-thyroid antibodies, which are usually present if you have the condition.
A blood test for thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is also a method to check thyroid hormone and TSH levels. Another way to make a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diagnosis is through an ultrasound of the thyroid.
Now that we’ve got that covered, it’s time you explore the different natural remedies to manage Hashimoto’s disease:
For people with Hashimoto thyroiditis, it’s important to keep track of your iodine levels. Too much iodine in your system can accelerate thyroid cell destruction, but avoiding iodine altogether is also not beneficial.
Instead, a regular but low dose of iodine every day can be helpful for people with this condition. For this purpose, seafood like seaweed and kelp offer a rich source of iodine.
If seafood is not an option for you, try iodine supplements that may give you the right amount you need to target each thyroid symptom. Consult your doctor first if you opt to take the supplement.
Selenium is a mineral the thyroid uses to convert thyroid hormones and help the immune system. It also reduces the production of autoantibodies in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Similar to iodine, you only need small amounts of selenium to make a big difference to your health. You can get selenium from the following foods:
- Brazil nuts
- Whole wheat bread
- Vegetables (like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli)
Zinc is another nutrient your thyroid needs for hormone production. Good levels of this nutrient in the body can help increase the levels of thyroid hormones, especially in people with multinodular goiter.
Multinodular Goiter Definition: An enlargement of the thyroid with multiple bumps
The nutrient also has the potential to benefit people with liver disease because of its antiviral and anti-inflammatory effects. A study showed that zinc could inhibit the viral activity of interferon lambda 3 (IFN-λ3), a protein linked to tissue damage caused by chronic liver disease.
You can find this in foods like:
- Cow’s milk
- Lentils and beans
- Shellfish and oysters
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D functions as a hormone in your body and regulates your immune system. A study showed that people with thyroid disorders have low levels of this vitamin.
One great way to get vitamin D is to expose your skin under the heat of the sun for 15-20 minutes each day. You can also take vitamin D supplements as per your doctor’s prescription.
5. Vitamin B12
Hashimoto’s disease is linked to vitamin B12 deficiency as the lack of it may be the result of digestive tract damage preventing nutrient absorption.
The vitamin is essential for metabolic and cellular functions and energy maintenance. One clinical study revealed that most of the participants experienced complete fatigue regression when given 600 mg of vitamin B12 each day.
Like zinc, lack of vitamin B12 is also associated with liver disease. Research revealed that low levels of vitamin B12 are linked to increased severity of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, inflammation, or damage to the liver as a result of fat build-up.
You can get vitamin B12 in foods like:
- Fish and shellfish
You can also take supplements as advised by your doctor.
For a healthy thyroid hormone production, your body also needs the amino acid tyrosine. It is also used by your adrenal glands to make adrenaline, which can take the stress off of your thyroid.
It’s important to keep your tyrosine level low but not completely zero. Tyrosine can be found in protein-rich foods like:
Probiotics are microorganisms that balance the good bacteria in your digestive tract, improving your immunity. Good levels of probiotics in your gut help repair the damaged digestive lining and reduce systemic inflammation.
Foods rich in probiotics include:
8. Regulated Sugar Level
Another food component that needs to be balanced in a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diet is your sugar level.
Your liver stores sugar in the form of glycogen that works as a fuel source for your body. Without a normal sugar level, your body overproduces stress hormones that break down healthy muscle tissues like those in your thyroid.
Monitoring your protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake will help you regulate your sugar level.
Removing gluten from your diet completely is greatly beneficial for your thyroid and for those with celiac disease. It will help reduce inflammation in your digestive system and reduce levels of thyroid antibodies.
You can find gluten in foods like bread, pizza, and pasta. This substance is also usually present in grains, barley, and rye.
10. Paleo Diet
This meal plan promotes eating foods eaten during the Paleolithic period and helps manage symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease as it provides anti-inflammatory effects. Foods included in the diet are as follows:
- Lean meat
11. Vegan Diet
A vegan meal plan promotes gut health and helps lower inflammation. If you choose to follow this diet, you might become deficient in vitamin D, B12, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids, so you need to focus on eating these types of foods:
- Vegetable proteins like tempeh and tofu
- Lentils and beans
- Vegetable oils
12. No More Alcohol
Alcohol is bad for both your liver and thyroid. Its toxicity to your cells can increase thyroid peroxidase antibodies and directly suppresses the gland’s function.
This leads to a decrease in thyroid hormone production. Plus, it’s a vicious cycle, where too much alcohol makes your liver slower in breaking it down and causes more toxicity and inflammation.
One of the most important ways to take care of your liver is through detoxification. The best and easiest way to detoxify your body is by breaking a sweat.
Another way to detoxify your liver is through certain supplements like milk thistle. These supplements will help your liver minimize toxic substances inside your body.
14. Reduced Thyroid Stress
Stress can also be a factor in developing Hashimoto’s disease, and this includes emotional, mental, familial, and financial stress.
You can do various relaxation techniques to help manage Hashimoto’s disease, such as:
- Deep breathing
This is an evergreen shrub found in some parts of Africa, the Middle East, and India and used for medicinal purposes. This herb can help balance hormones and cope with stress, reducing various adrenal and thyroid problems.
Research found that ashwagandha can balance the thyroid hormone T4 (thyroxine), which is crucial in overcoming Hashimoto thyroiditis or untreated hypothyroidism. You can purchase the herb’s powder form and drink it with honey and milk.
Ashwagandha may also contribute to the treatment of liver damage as it possesses free radical-scavenging activity that can eliminate toxins in the organ. A study showed that the root extract of the shrub restored liver enzymes to its normal level in rats.
What Are the Complications of Hashimoto Thyroiditis?
When left untreated, thyroid autoimmunity can lead to several health issues:
- Birth defects – Infants born to mothers with an underactive thyroid have higher risks of congenital disabilities.
- Myxedema – This is the severe form of overt hypothyroidism that occurs when left untreated.
- Mental health concerns – Depression may develop in the early stages of Hashimoto’s disease and may become worse over time.
- Heart issues – Those with an underactive thyroid may experience high levels of bad cholesterol, which can lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease.
- Goiter – An underactive thyroid is a common cause of goiter as a constant release of thyroid hormones can be overwhelming to your thyroid, leading to inflammation.
It’s important to keep track of the food you eat and what’s in it. The substances in your food have direct effects on both your liver and thyroid.
Without a doubt, a healthy liver is beneficial to your Hashimoto thyroiditis treatment diet.
What else do you do to keep your liver healthy, or what are other natural remedies for Hashimoto thyroiditis can you share with us? Tell us what kind of food and drinks you include in your diet and what you should do to manage symptoms of this condition in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 15, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.