So I’ve Got Hashimoto’s…Now What?

TAGS: hypothyroidism, hashimoto, Molly Galbraith, health, Nutrition

Dear Elitefts,

I am a young powerlifter (16 years old) and have Hashimoto's disease. This results in me having hypothyroidism and a lot of other thyroid hormone related problems. I was just wondering if anyone else out there has something similar and could give me some insight on how to deal with it.
– Thank you, Jake

The following letter was written in response to the Jake’s inquiry. I want to preface this by saying that I am not a doctor and I don’t have formal medical training. However, since being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in early 2009, I have done quite a bit of research and spoken with many doctors and Hashimoto’s sufferers about the subject. Nothing I say below is new or mind-blowing, but hopefully it can give a little direction to someone who has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s or someone who is having similar symptoms, but can’t figure out what is going on. And this goes without saying, but please contact your Doctor before making any changes to your diet, training, prescription medicine regimen, etc.

Dear Jake,

I have Hashimoto's as well, and it's definitely no fun. I have been in the training industry for almost eight years and have competed in both figure and powerlifting. Needless to say, I am pretty “in-tune” with my own body. Before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I was dealing with lack of motivation, unexplained weight gain, extreme fatigue, and depression (not in the "sad" sense, but in the sense that getting out of bed or doing anything felt like an insurmountable task). I have also been diagnosed with PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) and Adrenal Dysfunction, so I believe those contributed to my symptoms as well. I definitely know where you are coming from. The good news is there is hope! There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you can feel better!

First and foremost, finding a good doctor is CRUCIAL! It may be hard since you are only 16. I would imagine you are on your parent's insurance and have to find a doctor in your "network" and seeking out help from specialists might be out of the question. If it's not, go here: http://www.functionalmedicinedoctors.com/

It's a directory of functional medicine doctors. While the website is not comprehensive, my personal FMD in not listed on there, it should give you at least a couple of options in your area. You also might be wondering why I am recommending an FMD instead of a regular doctor. In my experience, FMD's are interested treating the whole person and getting you healthy from a holistic perceptive and not just giving you prescription medication to treat the symptoms. Also, in my experience, FDM's tend to be more concerned not that your levels are "normal" but that they are optimal. There is a huge difference between those two.

I would also recommend going 30 days without gluten and dairy, if possible, to see how you feel. It’s not fun, but there is a HUGE gluten/autoimmune connection and dairy can also be very inflammatory. To learn more about this connection, listen to these interviews:

  • http://bit.ly/bSbbDx
  • http://bit.ly/f6oEKT
  • http://bit.ly/cdE4sB
  • http://bit.ly/fr3BFo

One of those links is an interview with Robb Wolf of the Paleo Solution. I know, "Paleo" is a hot-button topic right now, but we have seen drastic improvements in our clients with autoimmune disease (and ourselves) when they switched from a normal "healthy" diet to a Paleo-type diet. In fact, we have one client with several autoimmune diseases and she tried numerous diets with no noticeable positive impact on her autoimmune issues. She did a Paleo diet for around 18 months and under the supervision of her doctor, is off almost all of her medications. I believe she was on eight different medications.

A couple of other things to research or ask your doctor about: low-dose Naltrexone. It's an amazing immune-system booster and many doctors don't know about it. If your doctor does choose to prescribe you medication like synthroid, you should talk to them about taking both Synthroid AND Cytomel. Many docs will prescribe only synthroid, but from talking to FMD's and speaking with other people with Hashimoto's, they feel much better taking both synthroid and cytomel. If you are someone who does not want to be on medication forever, talk to your doctor about coming up with a long-term plan to get healthy and possibly come off your medication in the future. But never, ever start or stop taking prescription medication without discussing it with your doctor first.

Lastly, make sure that you are taking good care of yourself in general. You can do this by making sure that you are getting enough sleep, getting enough sunlight (or supplementing with vitamin D), eating as little sugar as possible, and taking some time each day to relax and clear your mind. The less stress your body experiences, the better your immune system will function. You should also look into taking a probiotic to improve your gut function as 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut.

Well, Jake, I realized I just threw a lot of information at you. In summary, follow these steps listed below and you should be well on your way to feeling much better very soon.

  1. Try and find a good Functional Medicine Doctor in your area, if not possible, find a doctor who talks to you about lifestyle changes not just prescription medicine.
  2. Listen to those podcasts I linked above.
  3. Definitely try and cut our gluten and dairy for a month to see how you feel.
  4. Look into taking a high quality probiotic and supplementing with Vitamin D if you don't get much sun and/or have a dark complexion (Hispanic, African American, etc).
  5. Try to get eight to nine hours of sleep per night and try to spend a little time every day just relaxing and clearing your head.

Again, I really hope this information is helpful. It's definitely an uphill battle, but one you can win if you take care of yourself and listen to your body. Good Luck!

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