Why Changing Your Diet Is Always the First Step in Treating Hashimoto's | Chris Kresser
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Why Changing Your Diet Is Always the First Step in Treating Hashimoto’s

by Chris Kresser

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iStock.com/Alexandra Iakovleva

This article is part of a special report on Thyroid Disorders. To see the other articles in this series, click here.

Dr. Kharrazian has written an excellent post over at his blog about the importance of proper diet in the treatment of Hashimoto’s. He covers all the bases: the importance of going gluten-free, why gluten-free isn’t enough for most people, how to identify and address food sensitivities, how to balance blood sugar, and how to deal with the psychological and emotional resistance that may arise when making significant dietary changes.

The main obstacle most Americans face in implementing dietary changes, as Dr. K points out, is their addiction to the idea of a “quick fix”:

Americans are infatuated with pills, thanks to decades of conditioning from the pharmaceutical industry. It doesn’t matter whether they come from the pharmacy or the health food store, we have a cultural fixation with finding that magic bullet. It’s no wonder—making genuine, lasting changes to your health takes hard work and discipline, the two last things you’ll see advertised on commercials during your favorite television show.

As long as this mentality prevails, we’ll continue to suffer from increasing rates of disease and morbidity, and our “disease-care” system will continue to buckle and, eventually, collapse.

Dietary and lifestyle changes aren’t easy, but they’re the key to promoting health and preventing disease. And that’s just as true with Hashimoto’s as it is with type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

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  1. I have hashimotos when first diagnosed I had tpo in 40s after three years it’s 185 . My tsh is 1.5 T3 is 5.2 t4 is normal. I’m on armour thyroid 75 mg and was wondering if armour can increase tpo antibodies . I hv also developed chronic acid reflux digestive issues over the last two years . I’m really worried if my antibodies will ever go down . Any suggestion?

    Thanks a ton

    • Everyone is different. Yes, if you have Hashimotos dietary manipulation may help or normalize if say it was caused by a selenium deficiency. however, doctors should not stop there, but measure salivary cortisol 4-5x a day. They usually start with a fasting am cortisol level. If cortisol is low it will generate Reverse T3 making your active hormone inactive. Endocrinology and nutritional medicine can be complicated.

    • yes!! I developed a racing heart , rashes, sweating etc..on tiny doses of natural thyroid. I tried it 3x, because a certain website convinced me that i could not feel well on any other kind. I am positive for the antibodies, both. tpo and the other one, which i can never recall. I was able to tolerate t3 on its own. But, i am still unwell, unfortunately. I have done autoimmune paleo and reset, many times and get no relief, ever. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue., which i do not believe are diseases in their own right, but manifestations of my missing untreated hormones. I also have a shrunken pituitary, low cortisol and i am sure low growth hormone. I cannot get proper treatment.

  2. Chris, How long does it take after going gluten free to see if its going to work for energy levels and weight loss? My TSH went from3 to 4 n 6 months. Still under the norm of 5, but I have the classic symptoms of hypothyroid. Also my cousin was diagnosed with MTHFR gene and hashimotos. I understand they can run in families. However I havent gotten tested yet, but plan on doing so soon. I did try gluten free for two weeks and didnt notice any difference. I continued to gain weight even tho plant based with almost no sugar, oil or processed foods.

  3. Hello everyone,
    I am glad I found this conversation as I hope others will have guidance to give. I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s last year. Prior to that, I had a complete hysterectomy and was on bio-identical hormones. I truly believe they are all tied together somehow. I am currently taking WP Thyroid (was 97.5 grain and recently changed to 1.75grain). Since the change, I have had extreme hot flashes, cramping in my feet and toes, not sleeping well and just not feeling well. My doctor said to skip a dose to see if these symptoms subside but they have not. I am gluten-free, walk four days a week and work out with light weights/high reps. I continue to gain weight quickly (10 pounds a month). All that I use to do spinning, cycling, running etc. I have not been able to do because I fatigue quickly. I just want to be me again! Any and all guidance is greatly appreciated!!! Thank you…CB

    • Many times we need enzyme therapy too plus u need healthy oils cause Dr’s for get to warn u that Hoshimotos and graves cause imflimmation u need to eat the Paleo life style to reduce the inflimmation ADHD medication too relaxed all that for me

  4. Camie B

    Could you be insulin resistant/Metabolic syndrome?

    I have used cinnamon bark capsules and greatly reduced refined sugars to get it into control. HOWEVER, issues led to gaining again (also consider adrenal fatigue). I went to a Naturopathic Doctor and for three months I will be taking Priority One’s Alpha GTF.

  5. My TPO came in at 308 with everything else normal. My question is–can thyroid meds help? I was put on NatureThroid last year (32.5 mg) when my TPO was 170. With the current results of last blood test at 308 my doctor doubled the prescription about 2 months ago.

    I still don’t feel any better and I’m gaining weight. I have tried unsuccessfully to go gluten free/dairy free but now I don’t want to take the meds and am thinking of attempting the diet route.

    Has anyone gone off meds and felt better just going gluten free/dairy free??

      • Hi there. Suggest a test to measure iodine levels before using your body as a human experiment and possibly causing more damage. In Hashimoto’s excess iodine may be a problem. We rarely have an iodine deficiency in the US, but this should be suspected in India, for example.

    • Go Paleo and your life will change. You ill drop 10 pounds in 1 week. I have Hashimoto’s and does made me feel 100 percent better. Good luck!

      • Judy,
        Are you taking any thyroid meds while doing the Paleo diet? My doctor just increased my WP thyroid from 97.5 to 1.75 grain. I am now experiencing unusual hot flashes throughout the day; increased appetite and just not feeling well. Have you experienced anything like this?

    • If you have TPO antibodies, you have Hashimoto’s and it is an autoimmune disease, not just a thyroid issue. Facebook has several groups regarding Hashi – one is called Hashimoto’s 411 and has been a good resource for me. Many people recommend doing the Whole 30 or Paleo diets as well as gluten free. If your thyroid numbers are good but still have high antibodies, you could have sensitivities to other foods and there is a diet called AIP (autoimmune protocol) where you eliminate most common trigger foods until you can figure out what your body is reacting to (facebook page for it too). I just found out I have Hashi and have been gluten free for almost 2 months. I have lost 19 lbs. and have had considerable loss of inflammation (also easier periods). I don’t know if my TPO antibodies are down yet, but will go for a recheck in a couple weeks. Good luck!

  6. Hi! I just learned that my Antibodies are in the 750’s. Yet my T3, T4 and TSH are normal. Anyone have anything similar? Not sure how this works quite yet. They tested my Thyroid after having found a goiter in a CT of my neck (for something completely different). Just looking for outside opinions.

    • Hi Kathryn,
      I am in the same boat for the last 3.5 years. I have also had during this whole time symptoms of fatigue, and an abnormally low body temperature (I chart daily). In the last two years I have had two 3 month periods with recurrent urinary tract infections that i couldnt budge that took me off work for an unacceptable amount of time, so I am wondering if it is due to my compromised (but not yet clinical) immune system.
      I am about to start self medicating with low dose naltrexone to see if I can stop the progression of the autoimmune condition. I had my antibodies checked 3 weeks ago (still through the roof), so I will continue to test them every three months and use that, my feelings if fatigue, and my waking temperatures as a guide to dosage and to establish if the LDN is helpful to me and worth continuing.

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