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5 Thyroid Diet Ideas For Lowering Antibodies

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Dr. Westin Childs, Contributor
Thyroid Nation

The Best Hashimoto’s Thyroid diet [How to Reduce your Antibodies and Autoimmunity with these 5 Diets]

Ever feel like all you get is conflicting information about thyroid diet ideas around the internet? I do, too… which is why I’m writing this post.

Today I want to talk about which Hashimoto’s thyroid diet is best for naturally reducing your antibodies, inflammatory levels and for overall just making you feel better. ​If you didn’t already know – diet is an absolute critical change you MUST make if you want to get your Hashimoto’s under control. In fact, I would go as far as to say that it is probably the most important part of your treatment plan. ​Having said that, there are some nuances to making dietary changes that are specific to those with Hashimoto’s. I’m going to be going over several diets and how they impact symptoms and antibody levels. The data we are going to use is from Dr. Isabella Wentz ​who collected information on 2,232 Hashimoto’s patients. Unfortunately, there just isn’t a lot of research money being spent on Hashimoto’s because for the most part Doctors consider it just another form of hypothyroidism. But this data is very actionable and can help you ​immediately. Let’s dive right in:

What you will learn in this post:

  • Why a thyroid diet is critical to healing Hashimoto’s
  • ​Why diet alone isn’t enough 
  • List of diets and how they each impact Hashimoto’s and antibody levels
  • The recommendation that I give to my patients about diet

Why Diet can’t be ignored in Hashimoto’s disease

As you should already be aware, Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disease. That means your body is literally attacking and killing itself. The the case of Hashimoto’s this attack occurs on the thyroid gland itself! If left untreated over long periods of time this will ultimately result in the destruction of your thyroid. That means your thyroid won’t be able to produce thyroid hormone anymore and you will be left with supplementing with thyroid hormone by mouth… indefinitely. It doesn’t sound pretty, but here’s the deal: You can reduce and even prevent the attack on your own thyroid by making some targeted changes. Today we are going to specifically be talking about how a thyroid diet impacts this inflammation and autoimmunity, but don’t forget that by itself isn’t enough to completely reverse this process. It takes a whole body, multifaceted approach.

The 6 critical steps to healing Hashimoto’s

  • Proper thyroid diet that is tailored to the individual and helps nourish the adrenals while focuses on nutrient deficiencies and reducing inflammation and autoimmunity
  • Addressing gut health and gut imbalances that may be accelerating inflammation in the body and reducing absorption of critical nutrients
  • ​Assessing adrenal status and treating adrenal fatigue or other adrenal problems 
  • Replete nutrient deficiencies – including: Iron, B12, Zinc, Selenium, Iodine, and Vitamin D3
  • Finding the right type and dose of thyroid hormone medication for each individual
  • Removing toxins that may be interfering with thyroid function, conversion or production

Proper thyroid diet is step 1 in this process, but there are 5 other critical steps as well.

​Why Diet isn’t enough to heal Hashimoto’s

​While diet is a critical component of reducing the inflammation in Hashimoto’s, it isn’t the end all be all treatment. ​In order to heal Hashimoto’s you must reduce inflammation. That means you have to address ALL causes of inflammation including:

  1. Dietary allergies and antigens
  2. Gut imbalance (Dysbiosis, SIBO, Gut infections, Leaky gut)
  3. Physical, emotional and physiological stressors
  4. Chemical toxins and endocrine disruptors
  5. Nutrient deficiencies​
  6. Lifestyle changes including improved sleep and exercise

Doing just one of these is a recipe for failure… There is almost no question that your diet is increasing inflammation in your body, but it’s certainly not the only culprit. And in order to reduce all inflammation, each area must be addressed.

Which thyroid diet is the best for reducing inflammation and autoimmunity?

​Thankfully, Dr. Wentz put together a list of data of over 2,200 patients with Hashimoto’s and how changing their diet impacted their symptoms AND their antibody levels. ​For the first time we have actionable information and data that can be shared with everyone:

How patients react to Hashimoto's diet changes

​This data compares people who went on various types of diets and how it made them feel in terms of their symptoms and what percentage of people had a reduction in antibodies as a result. This data isn’t perfect but it does provide some very helpful information for patients with Hashimoto’s. ​First: It helps us see that there really isn’t a one size fits all diet for every patient with Hashimoto’s. Many patients found relief with different diets. Second: We can see that going gluten free is a HUGE benefit to many people. 88% of patients felt better with this diet and one third of them had a reduction in antibodies as a result. Elimiination-diet-bookThird: We can see that if one thyroid diet doesn’t work for you that you shouldn’t give up all dietary changes! You should certainly try another diet to see how you feel. Let’s go over each thyroid diet in more detail:

1) Food Sensitivity Diet (Elimination Diet)

​What is it?

There are two ways to do this diet: 1. Blood testing for food sensitivities: Find specific foods that you are sensitive to using delayed IgG food sensitivity testing. Testing for IgG antibodies will find food *sensitivities* that you may be reacting to, but may not be allergic to. You can find more information in the video below:

2. Eliminate foods systematically: Instead of getting the Delayed IgG blood test (my preferred way to start for most patients) you can simply remove the major food groups that most people are sensitive to for 30-90 days. After 30-90 days you can then begin to slowly reintroduce these food groups back into your body and determine how they make you feel. If you find that eggs make you feel sick, then you cut out that food group and move on to the next.

Elimination diet food list

The most common food groups removed in this diet include: Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Sugar, Artificial Sweeteners, Corn, Peanuts, Eggs and Shellfish. ​There is no hard and fast rule for what foods to avoid first, but I find removing these food groups seems to help patients the most right off the bat.

Does it work?

According to the data using this diet (either ways noted above) 62% of people reported that they felt better, ​4.2% said they felt worse, and 43% had a reduction in antibodies to the thyroid.

​More information:

Food Sensitivity Diets​ ​Elimination Diet ​Allergy Avoidance Diet

PROS

  • Highest reduction in antibodies
  • Moderate percentage of people felt better
  • Can be cost effective if you do not get delayed IgG food allergy testing

CONS

  • Highest percentage of people felt WORSE of this diet
  • Testing can be expensive and at times innaccurate
  • Requires a lot of time to reintroduce food groups

My Recommendation:

This diet is a great place to start but don’t be fooled into thinking you HAVE to get a delayed IgG sensitivity test. It may be necessary for some people, but many patients can get started on this diet right away by just avoiding the major food groups listed above.

2) Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP)

​What is it?

The autoimmune paleo diet is an extended version of the paleo diet but also excludes: Nuts, Seeds, Eggs, Legumes, and Nightshades. You can see the list of the allowed foods below:

  • Vegetables (Except Nighshades)
  • Fruits (Limited to 15-20 grams of fructose per day)
  • Coconut Products
  • Fats: Olive oil, Coconut oil, Lard
  • Fermented foods
  • Bone Broth
  • Grass Fed Meats, Poultry, and Seafood
  • Non-seed herbal teas and green tea
  • Vinegars (including Balsamic without added sugar)
  • 1 tsp of Maple syrup and Honey used as sweeteners
  • All fresh non-seed herbs
  • Grass fed gelatin and Arrowroot starch

Does it work?

According to our data 75% of people felt better, 4% of people felt worse, and 43%had a reduction in antibodies while following the Auto Immune Paleo Diet.

​More information:

Autoimmune Paleo AIP lifestyle​ The Paleo Mom​

PROS

  • Moderate percentage of people felt better
  • Includes gut healing foods like bone broths
  • Good support community online

CONS

  • High percentage of people felt WORSE on this diet
  • Lots of restrictions initially, making compliance difficult
  • Requires a lot of time to reintroduce food groups after phase 1

My recommendations: The AIP diet can be VERY helpful for some people, but may be too strict for the majority of patients right off the bat.

I tend to reserve my sickest patients with multiple autoimmune conditions and food allergies for this diet. I will also move patients to this diet if they have failed on other less restrictive diets. ​

3) Gluten Free Diet

​What is it?

If you don’t already know about gluten here is a quick primer: Gluten is a name that includes multiple proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. There are two varieties of problems that people can have with gluten: Gluten-free-foods1. Celiac’s disease: People with this condition have an autoimmune response when introduced to the protein which results in damage to the intestines, inflammation and MANY other signs and symptoms. Patients with this condition typically have elevated blood levels of Gliadin, Transglutaminase-2 and Endomysium. 2. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: ​People with this condition seem to be intolerant to gluten, meaning that it causes inflammation in their body but it’s much more difficult to diagnose because traditional blood tests to gliadin, transglutaminase-2 and endomysium are negative. Gluten sensitive patients still get inflammation and autoimmunity, but symptoms vary by individual and these patients tend to go undiagnosed for a much longer period of time. The gluten free diet serves to remove ALL sources of gluten including food and products that we don’t necessarily eat but still go on our bodies (including toothpaste). ​

 Does it work?

According to the data 88% of people felt better on this diet, 0.73% of people felt worse, and 33% of people had a reduction in antibodies.

​More information:

Gluten Free Living Celiac Central​ Mayo Clinic Gluten Free Diet​

PROS

  • Highest percentage of people felt better
  • Lots of free information and guides online
  • Good support community online

CONS

  • Can be difficult to remove ALL sources of gluten
  • Lots of gluten free junk food available – easy to eat unhealthy gluten free diet
  • Going gluten free isn’t enough for most patients

My recommendations:

If you have Hashimoto’s you should absolutely try going gluten free! That means avoiding all sources of gluten diligently for at least 90 days before you reintroduce them. Don’t fall into the trap in thinking that if you have negative blood tests that it will not benefit you. Going gluten free will not be enough to reduce inflammation and autoimmunity, but it is the necessary first step! ​

4) Paleo Diet

​What is it?

Another very popular thyroid diet, and for good reason! In a nutshell: the paleo diet only allows you to eat foods that man would have evolved with. It removes foods that man has introduced that were not normal to our lifestyle as we evolved as a species. Paleo diets tend to be higher in healthy fats with moderate amounts of protein and generally fewer carbohydrates. One of the dangers of going paleo is actually reducing your carbohydrates too much, because the most common sources of carbs are generally forbidden. This isn’t always a good thing – especially for those with Adrenal and thyroid problems. ​ Because of this many thyroid patients will adopt a modified type of paleo diet to include some starches as an extra source of carbs.

Does it work?

According to the data 81% of people felt better, 3.2% of people felt worse and27% of people had a reduction in antibodies after adopting the paleo diet.

​More information:

The Paleo Diet Nom Nom Paleo Paleo Leap – Paleo Diet 101

PROS

  • Large percentage of people felt better on this thyroid diet
  • Lots of free information and guides online to help beginners
  • Good support community online

CONS

  • May not include enough carbs for those with Adrenal problems
  • Some people can have problems maintaining body weight due to lower amount of carbs
  • May be too restrictive for certain individuals

My recommendations: The paleo diet has major benefits for not only treating autoimmune related issues but in helping people start down a road to a healthy lifestyle. One of my favorite things about this diet is the online support community and how easy it is to get meaningful and high quality information for free. This diet isn’t perfect, but it’s a great place to start for many people because it is anti-inflammatory and excludes gluten at baseline.

5) Low FODMAP’s Diet

Low-Fodmap-dietWhat is it?

What in the world are FODMAP’s? I’m glad you asked… It’s an acronym that stands for: Fermentable Oligo-Di-Monosaccharides And Polyols​.

It’s really just a fancy name to describe a class of sugars and carbohydrates that are found in certain foods. FODMAP’s can cause gastrointestinal issues like gas, bloating, cramping and irritable bowel like symptoms in certain groups of people. Those who have SIBO, or candida overgrowth seem to particularly sensitive to FODMAP’s and react poorly when eating them. This diet removes these food groups by eliminating foods that are high in these types of carbohydrates:

  • Fructose (Fruits, Honey, High fructose corn syrup)
  • Lactose (Dairy products)
  • Fructans (Wheat, Garlic, Onion, Inulin)
  • Galactans (Beans, Lentils, Soybeans)
  • Polyols (Sweetners like xylitol and Mannitol, along with stone fruits such as Avocado)

Does it work?

According to the data 39% of people felt better, 0% of people felt worse, and 27% of people had reduced antibodies while following this diet.

​More information:

Low FODMAP Diet ​IBS Diet ​FODMAP’s and Paleo

PROS

  • Will also treat SIBO and Candida overgrowth
  • Great Diet for those with IBS
  • Zero patients felt worse on this diet

CONS

  • Smallest reduction in antibodies out of all diets
  • Doesn’t necessarily exclude gluten
  • Smallest number of patients felt better on this diet

My Recommendations:

I typically only use the low FODMAP’s diet if I know a patient has either SIBO or candida overgrowth or is dealing with irritable bowel like symptoms. A quick and dirty way to test for ​SIBO is by eating a meal high in sugar – if you have a “food baby” or bloating in your upper stomach or start to experience lots of gas and cramps, there’s a good chance you have an overgrowth of bacteria in your small intestines. A more definitive test for SIBO would be with a Hydrogen breath test, which can be ordered by your Doctor.

​Honorary Thyroid Diet Mentions

If you didn’t already notice there were a few diets that weren’t mentioned above but were in the original data. ​Namely: Soy free and Grain free. I didn’t elaborate on these diets because they are self explanatory and because for the most part they should be a component of other diets and I wouldn’t recommend using them in isolation. But, to complete the data let’s go over them… Soy Free Diet: 63% of people felt better, 1.2% of people felt worse and 35% had a reduction in antibodies while on this diet. ​Grain Free Diet: 81% of people felt better, 0.74% of people felt worse and 28%had a reduction in antibodies on this diet.

Where should you start with your diet?

The next question you should have is: Where do I start with my thyroid diet? And the answer is… It really depends on you.

Whatever you do, please don’t take the following information as medical advice directed at you.

I want to provide some very basic guidelines that I use when evaluating patients to determine which diet would benefit them the most. There is a catch though: There is no perfect way to determine who will do best on which thyroid diet, sometimes it boils down to trial and error.

​Who should consider the food sensitivity diet?

  1. People who react with itching, swelling, hives, runny nose or post nasal drip after eating certain foods.
  2. People who also have a personal history of Asthma or eczema.
  3. People who have failed other more basic diets like Gluten free, soy free or grain free and are still symptomatic.

​Who should consider the Autoimmune Paleo Diet?

  1. People who have multiple autoimmune conditions, multiple food sensitivities and multiple medical problems.
  2. People who have failed other less restrictive diets.

​Who should consider the Gluten Free Diet?

  1. All patients with Hashimoto’s (It’s a great first start but usually not enough).
  2. People with a family history of Celiac’s disease, autoimmune disease or Thyroid problems.

​Who should consider the Paleo Diet?

  1. People who have tried going Gluten free but still have room for improvement in their symptoms.
  2. People with symptoms of a leaky gut (Acne, Depression, Anxiety, Fatigue, Eczema, Environmental/Seasonal Allergies, Post nasal drip, IBS/IBD, GERD, Chronic constipation)

​Who should consider the Low FODMAP’s Diet?

  1. People who have Hashimoto’s and a have either been diagnosed with or have symptoms of SIBO and/or Yeast or Candida overgrowth.
  2. People who still have gas/bloating despite adopting a paleo or gluten free diet.
  3. People who have failed less restrictive diets.

Remember that every patient is different and you should be evaluated based on your personal symptoms.

No two people are exactly alike and that’s why every person needs a personalized diet!

​Finding your personal diet may take time and trial and error. There isn’t a test that can look at your genes, what medical conditions and your personal preferences to magically determine what diet you will do best on. It comes from trial and error and putting in the effort. ​Check out part 2 and 3 of this article.

Stay up-to-date, get tips, articles and stories that inspire, on all things thyroid!

About the Author

westin-childsDr. Westin Childs is a physician that specializes in treating and reversing Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other thyroid related problems. His goal is to provide high quality actionable information based on the most recent scientific journals and literature that you can trust. Check out his website at RestartMed.com and follow him on Facebook and Google+.

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Questions or anything to add about a thyroid diet, or something that works for you?  We’d love your thoughts in the comments section–Please!

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