Hypothyroidism & Hashimoto's: Everything I wish I knew right away
I'm going to give you a list of everything I wish my doctor would've told me the second I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto's, but instead I had to research for over a year for all of the information I was after. I've conveniently compiled all of my research into this post WITH sources at the bottom of the page for a deeper dive. I'll add to this post as I become aware of more helpful information, but try not to overload your brain. Again, I am NOT a doctor or nurse, these suggestions are all from personal experience and research, you should always consult your physician about diet and medications.
Are you ready, because here is goes in no particular order:
The symptoms can mimic many other ailments including depression, anxiety, and PCOS for example that can lead to misdiagnosis. Hypothyroidism symptoms include: fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, hoarseness, insomnia, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol level, muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods, thinning hair/hair loss, slowed heart rate, depression, impaired memory, lethargy/forgetfulness, anxiety, carpel tunnel, swelling of the thyroid gland (usually associated with Hashimoto's). When you go to your doctor to get blood work, as for the FULL panel of blood work for thyroid disease and ask for an immunology report.
Those that have Hypo can be deficient in Vitamin B, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Protein, Iodine, and Sodium. Just taking a multivitamin may not be enough in many cases. Being deficient in these particular vitamins and minerals can lead to major fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, and other symptoms. My multivitamin is Vegan Shakeology (I'd rather have a milkshake than a pill any day!), 5000mcg Vitamin B, Vitamin B Complex, 5000IU Vitamin D3, and put Himalayan Pink Salt on everything for some extra Iodine and Sodium. Those who have Hashimoto's can add Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Selenium (controls anxiety), and Magnesium (everyone should add this, most people are deficient!).
Your diet should consist of fermented foods, anti inflammatory foods, iodine rich foods, probiotics, and protein rich foods. Foods you should try to avoid are non-fermented soy, dairy, gluten, and corn. My personal dietary favorites are Kombucha Tea (but watch the caffeine content), eggs, tempeh, coconut oil, avocado, mangos, pumpkin seeds, and Vegan Shakeology. The KETO diet is NOT a good choice for thyroid disease, I realize it's all the buzz right now (personally, I'm not a fan, you can visit my Keto experience post -coming soon-). BUT a general low carb high fat diet can be beneficial and help aid weight loss and inflammation. I have found that keeping my carbs under 100g a day on average makes a world of difference, I am still restricting my carb intake but getting them mostly from fruits and vegetables which help keep my energy levels up in a natural way, and your body doesn't have trouble breaking down those types of sugars (it's the simple carbs that are horrible, see article in sources). DO NOT be afraid of carbs from fruit or veggies or complex carbs that are high in fiber, no one ever got fat from eating too much fruit or veggies for that matter, carrots are not the enemy! My biggest problem with Keto is that many people on it cut out fruit because it's high in carbs (one mango and your over), there are just way too many amazing nutrients and antioxidants in fruit that you're missing out on that are super beneficial to your overall health and energy levels (cancer prevention in particular). If I HAD to choose a beneficial diet, I guess I'd choose Paleo but suggest getting your protein from a wide array of sources, not just animal protein, such as Tempeh. I really love the Countdown to Competition Plan that is in the materials for 21 Day Fix Extreme on Beachbody on Demand using the color coded container system, it's low carb (carb cycling), high protein, and all clean eating whole foods.
You have medication options besides Levothyroxine. The one option I was NOT given by my Endo was Natural Dessicated Thyroid (NDT), and it's been the MOST effective for me. NDT has both T3 and T4, so it's most effective in treating symptoms of those with Hypo AND Hashimoto's. NDT is not usually suggested by your PCP or Endo, it's considered "old medicine" or "alternative medicine." NDT is natural and was a breakthrough in the late 1800s. Levothyroxine containes only T4 and created in a chemical lab in the 1950s. NDT is usually not covered by insurance (it's not Big Pharma, it doesn't have a patent and there is no money in it) but only about $8-35/mo depending on brand and coupons (GoodRx is a great place to get discounts). I love how I feel on Nature Throid and WP Thyroid brands (same company) because they are hypoallergenic with no fillers, the 3rd brand is Armour, or you can have NDT compounded at a Compounding Pharmacy. Many studies have been done, and they all (that I've come across) have come to the conclusion that NDT is more effective in treating symptoms related to Hypothyroidism.
Take your meds at NIGHT and they DO interact with other mediations. Many other medications (including birth control pills), certain vitamins and minerals (calcium and iron in particular), and even your morning coffee can inhibit/lower the absorption of thyroid medication. See below for the studies that have been conducted. Taking your thyroid medications right before bed helps the absorption of the medication. Personally, it has made a huge difference. Once I started this habit, my numbers stabilized for the first time since I had been diagnosed and I started waking up refreshed and energized instead of groggy and sluggish.
Other health risks and conditions associated with Hypo and Hashi's. People with Hypothyroid disease are at a great risk of heart disease and stroke. Those with Hashimoto's disease (autoimmune disease) are more likely to have other autoimmune diseases, such as IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, Graves' disease, lupus, or celiac disease, generally if you have one autoimmune disease you have 2 or more. Raynaud's disease can also be a "secondary disease" with those who have an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto's, it can be related to heart disease and blood circulation and you should consult your doctor if you notice cold fingers or toes, color changes in your skin in response to cold or stress, numb, prickly feeling or stinging pain upon warming or stress relief. Those who have PCOS are at an increased risk of having Hashimoto's. There are studies that suggest that Epstein Barr virus (better know as Mono, you know, the "kissing disease") can be a contributing factor in Hashimoto's disease, a 2015 Polish study found the Epstein-Barr virus in the thyroid cells of 80% of people with Hashimoto’s.
For reference, I have been diagnosed with PCOS, Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto's, IBS (no longer have), GERD (no longer have), Raynaud's disease, and have had Mono (but have never been tested to see if I still have it in my body). I have been able to control or get rid of all of the symptoms from these ailments with diet, regular exercise (I highly suggest Beachbody on Demand), and the right medications.
I hope that this was at least a little bit beneficial without being too much of an information overload. If you have more questions don't hesitate to reach out or speak to your health care provider. Check out all of the sources below for a deeper dive.