Hashing Out the Facts on Hashimoto's Disease
Becoming more and more prevalent among America's population, Hashimoto's Disease has only recently come to the forefront of many doctors' attention. Also known as chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis and resulting in hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's causes a wide range of symptoms including fatigue, cold sensitivity, constipation, unexpected weight gain, muscle tenderness, joint stiffness and skin problems. Classified as an autoimmune disease, it's recognized as one that is currently on the rise by the National Institute of Health.
But, why is it increasing? Is it simply that diagnostic testing has improved or that doctors are more aware of the diagnosis? Or, are there other factors at play when it comes to determining that an individual is suffering from the disease?
Many people, including Dr. Scott Gebhardt, believe that too many doctors look only at the test results and not at the symptoms
being reported by patients. He explained, "Most doctors are trained to look only at TSH and maybe free T4. I used to do this, as well." With an estimated 30 percent of hypothyroidism going undiagnosed in the United States and 80 percent of hypothyroidism cases caused by Hashimoto's, Gebhardt suggests that there are many people who are walking around with the disease and don't even know it.
Becka relates that she had symptoms for years and reported them to doctor after doctor. As a new mom, she was told being tired was normal. They suggested that her weight gain was from not trying hard enough to lose weight. Finally, a doctor did a full spectrum of tests, listened to her symptoms and told her, "Oh honey, with lab results like this, I'm amazed you've been able to do even half of what you're doing. Let's talk about this." A diagnosis of Hashimoto's finally made sense, especially with low liver functions, high antibody levels, high cholesterol, and vitamin D and iron deficiencies. But, it took several doctors and appointments to come across the right integrative specialist who would listen to her and take her symptoms seriously.
Her story is similar to many others. Getting validation that symptoms are genuine is something that many people struggle with daily.
But, the question still remains about whether the new influx of Hashimoto's diagnoses has more to do with doctors being more open-minded or environmental factors that influence how the body's immune system functions. Scientists worldwide have come to conclusions that the drastic rise in autoimmune conditions is a direct result of the Industrial Age and 21st century lifestyles. Exposure to chemicals, toxins, pesticides and processed foods may be the culprits that cause immune system cells to launch an attack on the body.
Many Hashimoto's patients feel this is the case for them. Becka relates that, "After a year of going paleo and strictly avoiding gluten, working out at home, and drinking Shakeology® every day I was able to reverse my symptoms almost completely. I had blood work re-tested and all my levels are back in the healthy range without any thyroid medication."
Kelly Forrestal stated on Facebook, "For me, meds didn't do much. They are a temporary fix. I would feel better for a month, maybe two and go back to feeling even worse than before. I have eliminated dairy, gluten and soy and have seen HUGE improvements. (Down almost 40 pounds, too!) As much as I hate saying this, pretty much everything the average American puts in their body is poison. BUT, there is also direct correlation between gluten and developing Hashimoto's: essentially, gluten leads to leaky gut. Too much "bad" bacteria in the stomach is created and LOTS of other problems occur, which lead to Hashimoto's and other auto immune diseases. It's definitely scary, but I do know of people who have reversed it with proper nutrition and exercise." Read her full story HERE.
Regular exercise, a diet rich in whole foods and reduction of life stress may be keys to controlling the symptoms of Hashimoto's. Even if they aren't the solutions to full recovery, efforts in these areas will certainly help your overall health in other ways, whether you have Hashimoto's disease or not. Avoiding toxins, pollutants, chemicals and processed foods is the best way to overhaul your health in your journey to improved fitness.
~Results may vary. Please consult your physician before beginning any supplement or meal replacement product, particularly if you have any unique or special needs or conditions, such as food allergies, dietary restrictions, or if you are pregnant or breast feeding. The content on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Certified Health and Nutrition Coach