or “What does Hashimoto have to do with my thyroid gland?”
You probably already know a lot about Hashimoto, because your doctor told you something about it or you rummaged in the internet and I don’t want to talk too much about the medical or biological processes and I don’t want to produce the same text again, which you can read just as well elsewhere. I would like to write down here what you go through as a Hashimoto’s patient and how I felt.
But to give the whole thing a framework, let’s start with a quote from our beloved Wikipedia:
“The Hashimoto thyroiditis […] is an autoimmune disease, which leads to a chronic inflammation of the thyroid gland. In this disease, thyroid tissue is destroyed by T-Lymphocytes as a result of a misdirected immune process.”
So Hashimoto is NOT the thyroid gland itself, but an inflammation in the body, which is directed against the thyroid gland. This leads to an underfunction, because healthy thyroid tissue is destroyed and the thyroid gland can only produce too little T4 and T3, which are responsible for the metabolism. Our body thinks that the thyroid gland is the cause, but usually the cause is somewhere else… but more on that later.
To understand this process a little better, you have to start where the hormones are produced in the first place, or why they are produced.
Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism and body weight in adults and regulate the burning of fat for energy and heat. Children need these hormones to grow and for mental development.
In principle, they signal all growth factors in the body: bone growth, the development of red blood cells, nerve growth and skin growth.
Pregnant women need thyroid hormones to produce breast milk and all hormones produced by the thyroid gland have an influence on insulin, cortisol and sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testerone.
Before T4 is produced, an amino acid combines with two molecules (MIT and DIT, which are formed in a gland in the brain as messengers TRH and TSH), as well as with iodine and from this T4 is formed. It is an important growth hormone and regulates our metabolism. To be more effective, this T4 is converted to T3 in the liver, but only in small amounts. Almost 90% of the hormones are T4 hormones.
Amino acids are a basic building block of our body. We need them to carry out the complex processes in our body. They are the glue that holds everything together. If the thyroid gland wants to produce T4, it needs iodine.
Why the first process where something can go wrong is in our diet. 80% of our immune system takes place in the stomach!
So let’s start with the diet…
Nutrition and Hashimoto – What role does iodine play?
Before the industrial revolution, many people who had no access to food from the sea were suffering from hypothyroidism. There are no data collected from these years, but there were always reports of underdeveloped children, people with goiters or a “retardation”, which indicate this.
(At least that’s what I was told by my old internist, who unfortunately retired now, but with whom I spent many hours talking about the thyroid gland and other things. But you can find this information everywhere in the net, also at Wikipedia)
Signs of hypothyroidism can vary, but most people complain of these symptoms:
Exhaustion and fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, flatulence, constipation, dry, light-coloured skin, a swollen face, fragile nails, loss of hair, enlargement of the tongue, weight gain, muscle pain, inflammation of the joints and stiffness, muscle weakness, absence of menstruation or extremely heavy bleeding, depression, gaps in memory, slow thinking, childlessness, inhibited sex drive and much more.
I know that in 1993 the Iodine Global Network started to collect data on how many countries suffer from iodine deficiency nutrition and therefore set the goal to provide all countries with sufficient iodine and teach them to integrate iodine into their diet so that children no longer suffer from deficiency and can develop normally. Because iodine is, as mentioned before, already extremely important in the formation of the growth hormone T4 and the regulation of the metabolism.
Of the 110 countries whose population once suffered from iodine deficiency, by 2015 only 25 countries were left. This map 1) shows the year 2017, which is the latest map where adults are also listed.
There is another newer one from 2019, but only children are listed.
In Germany, the gradual introduction of iodised salt into the diet has begun. The Federal Ministry of Health and Agriculture writes about this:
Iodine is a vital trace element that must be taken in with food. It acts as a component of the thyroid hormones. With regard to the iodine content of the soil, Germany is a country with iodine deficiency. In order to ensure a sufficient supply of iodine, the iodination of table salt is therefore permitted under the applicable food law regulations.
The results of the iodine monitoring show In Germany there is no iodine deficiency anymore, but the supply of the population is not yet optimal. According to the criteria of the WHO it is in the lower optimal range. Therefore, for all people living in Germany, the following should apply: “If salt, then iodized salt!”
iodine may be added in the form of potassium and sodium iodate table salt, but the addition is limited to a maximum of 25 µg iodine per gram of table salt. The iodine enrichment of table salt is important and desirable for health policy reasons, but, like the use of iodized table salt in the production of food, it is voluntary in Germany.
The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a daily intake of 180-200 µg iodine per day for adults (slightly more for pregnant women and nursing mothers) and 40-200 µg for children and adolescents. The actual iodine intake in Germany was estimated by the DGE in 2003 at 110-120 µg iodine per day for adults.
In the former GDR iodine was added to drinking water and in contrast to West Germany there were far fewer thyroid diseases in East Germany.
Since I was born in 1982 in West Germany, I grew up for years with an iodine deficiency and it is questionable whether the increased iodine intake in my youth has already put me in a bad position or whether my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has also had a negative effect on my immune system. Because stress can trigger Hashimoto! Both psychological and physical stress.
I myself was never a big fan of iodized salt. Especially not after doctors told me I was allergic to iodine. What I didn’t know at the time was that this only referred to synthetic iodine, i.e. iodine that was added to medicines or food, but not iodine that enters the body naturally.
But the biggest problem is that iodine is not only found in table salt, but also in the majority of ready meals and above all in the meat we eat and the milk we drink! Farm animals are also fed iodine. In Germany, the proportion is still relatively low, but in other countries, such as Austria, for example, it can be observed that thyroid cancer in young people has increased in recent years.3)
Nowadays I have added algae and sea fish to my diet to compensate for the iodine deficiency and to replenish my thyroid gland with sufficient iodine.
However, our iodine uptake can be blocked by the so-called halogens: Fluoride, Bromine and Chlorine. Although iodine also belongs to the halogens, but in contrast to the other three types it is not toxic.
Then why is fluoride in toothpaste, among other things? Because in small doses it can prevent teeth decay.
But even in small doses it can block the receptors for iodine, as they prefer fluoride. So the thyroid gland no longer produces hormones!
In addition to the symptoms associated with Hashimoto, we also have a sense of well-being and this often does not correspond with what the doctor tells us.
This may say “Your blood and hormone levels are fine”, as with me, but nevertheless my hair continued to fall out, I was lethargic, infertile, I had my fourth clinical depression behind me, no matter how “healthy” I fed myself, I could not lose weight. I felt miserable, useless, I had pain and I resigned myself. Because you can’t cure Hashimoto.
Since it was found out that I was allergic to iodine, I was told to stay away from all sources of iodine. Just no added iodine, just no sea fish, best only salt with rock salt. Avoid all foods that contain iodine.
I mean, for one thing they were right. I’m allergic to iodine when it’s artificially incorporated into medicines or food. But I never had problems with sea fish and I love sea fish! There are completely different foods that I can easily do without.
Most of the time I am grateful to the ketogenic diet that I have my mental clarity again and don’t feel like I have a mist in my head anymore. At the time of my depression I was quite emotionally dead and I thought I would never be able to feel again, but that changes from day to day. Also the perception of heat and cold is quite different. And I have no more joint pain. My lower back always hurt and the doctors couldn’t explain it either, because on the x-rays everything looked quite good except for a slight wear and tear.
But the focus of the inflammation is gone.
My sleep has become much deeper, even though I still have a little trouble getting to sleep. And I no longer sleep with my mouth open.
But what I am happy about in terms of food is that I no longer have to take Pantoprazole, which I have been taking for at least 10 years, because I have always had problems with my stomach acid. Today I know that Hashimoto patients have too little stomach acid, but the doctors always assumed that I had too much!
I know there are many more symptoms that occur with Hashimoto, also depending on how long the autoimmune disease has been going on and I know I could have done worse.
In contrast to Paleo, Keto is the most suitable for my diet and it has opened my eyes.
I hope that I can help you with this site and that you feel better soon!