Updated: May 11, 2020
There is a lot of evidence that gluten-free and grain-free diets do really well for people with thyroid issues and Hashimoto’s. There are many people who do extremely well also removing dairy and soy from their diets. Then there are foods and ingredients such as sugar, caffeine and even nightshade vegetables which when removed can offer some improvement in symptoms. I also would like to mention that any disease, especially linked to hormonal imbalances, could benefit from these dietary changes. There have been people who have gone into complete remission with just changing their diet alone! This is how IMPORTANT food is - and how MASSIVE the link is between what we eat and our general health. What you are trying to do with food here, is reduce inflammation, improve digestive (gut) health and balance hormones. These will in turn, help you to heal from Hashimoto’s.
My top 6 foods to eliminate if you have just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s are:
Gluten: Gluten contains proteins which are extremely hard to digest, have been found to cause holes in the gut barrier, and to cause leaky gut which has been linked to the development of auto-immune disease. Also, the protein gliadin found in gluten closely resembles tissue from the thyroid gland. Therefore when this escapes into the blood stream, the immune system marks it as a foreign invader so that it is destroyed. And therefore it destroys anything that looks like it, i.e. the thyroid gland. As Dr Wentz states, ‘as intestinal permeability is always present in autoimmune conditions, most people with Hashimoto’s have multiple IgG food reactions…reactive foods seem to perpetuate the autoimmune thyroid reaction. The presence of IgG4 subtype antibodies (the antibody types related to food sensitivities) seems to correlate with the amount of thyroid damage.’ (Wentz, 2015, p.221). Dr Wentz also states ‘three to six months on a gluten-free diet can eliminate organ-specific antibodies, such as those to the thyroid seen in Hashimoto’s’. (Wentz, 2015, p.146)
Dairy: In a similar way to gluten, many people have an issue digesting the protein in dairy called casein, which therefore can make it a reactive food which can perpetuate the autoimmune thyroid attack.
Soy: Soy is a Xenoestrogen (mimics the hormone oestrogen) in which it completely messes up the hormones which is a recipe for disaster in Hashimoto’s where hormones are out-of-balance as it is. This is a definite no-go if you want to have any chance of balancing out your hormones.
Sugar: Extremely inflammatory, puts the hormones out-of-whack and just adds to a cocktail of destruction! It promotes the growth of bad bacteria in your gut, which then eat holes through your gut lining.
Caffeine: Yes, black tea and coffee - sorry!!! But you will find an alternative that you will begin to love - I promise!! Most people with a thyroid issue also have an adrenal issue. Caffeine is awful for the adrenals and taxing on the stress hormones, and so it is a MUST that you eliminate it.
Corn (maize): Many people with Hashimoto’s also have an issue with corn. This is because it is a highly genetically modified crop, and has been found to cause an inflammatory response in people with autoimmune disease.
One massive thing that I want to emphasise, is that is is not just about taking foods OUT. It is also about adding lots of nutritious foods IN! A lot of this is to do with your MINDSET - which I will go into on my next blog post on how important mindset it when you are healing from Hashimoto’s.
My top 6 foods to add if you have just been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s are:
Plenty of vegetables: Eat a rainbow (all of the different colours have different nutrients, so aim for at least one of each colour of the rainbow every day).
Fermented foods: Probiotic coconut kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi all boost your microbiome and offer large quantities of good bacteria for your gut. Having a healthy gut is ESSENTIAL in healing autoimmune disease. Scientists are now saying that the majority of our immune system is actually in our gut (something like 80%).
Good quality fats: Coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados - fantastic for balancing the blood sugar, reduce inflammation, balance the immune system and provide the precursors to balance hormones.
Anti-inflammatory herbs /root vegetables: Turmeric and ginger - both extremely powerful roots that have healing properties for almost any health condition you can think of. Both extremely anti-inflammatory, they help support digestion and the liver’s detoxification pathways.
Bone broth: After you roast your chicken, put the carcass in a slow cooker, top with some purified water, a dash of apple cider vinegar, and cook for 12 hours minimum. Bone broth is extremely healing - packed full of collagen which helps to heal the gut lining and support healthy skin.
Herbal teas: Peppermint tea is my favourite and it is my alternative to drinking black tea. Some good ones for Hashimoto's to try are nettle tea, dandelion root, liquorice root, turmeric, ginger, and lemon.
But remember, that these are guidelines, and you will need to see what works and what doesn’t for you. Everyone’s bodies are different, and so what is really important is to find out what your food sensitivities are. Some people have a problem with eggs, or tomatoes or almonds. Just go slowly and patiently with yourself whilst you navigate through what foods your body can and can’t tolerate. This isn’t an overnight fix, it is something that most of us have had to do trial and error with. One thing I would accentuate is the importance of purchasing organic food. I will talk more about the importance of this in another blog, but you really want to be staying away from pesticides, GMO, and antibiotics that are found in non-organic foods. These 6 foods to take out, and 6 foods to add in, will hopefully be a great place to start to help you on your healing journey.