Being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the autoimmune disease where your immune system attacks your thyroid gland, is overwhelming. Not only do you have to deal with the psychological impact of feeling like your body is fighting against you, but you also are likely to be starting a new regiment of supplements, meal plans, and prescription meds to manage and support your under-performing thyroid. It can feel like your whole life has to change overnight.
It doesn’t. But even though you might need to make some updates to your regular routine, you can do them over time, and figure out what makes the most sense for you. We’ve compiled a list of some of the easier changes to make that can have an impact on your thyroid, immune system, and overall wellbeing—and you can start with them one at a time.
10 Lifestyle Changes You Can Make Today to Manage Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
If any of your ongoing thyroid symptoms are migraines, cold intolerance, insomnia, or anxiety, consider your caffeine intake. Are you taking your thyroid medication with something (coffee or tea) other than water? That’s the first step: Caffeine can interfere with the effectiveness of your medication if you’re taking them together. If you’re already waiting at least 30 minutes to eat or drink post medication, consider how much caffeine you’re consuming per day—and when you’re drinking it. Stick to 8 to 12 oz. before noon for the least impact on your thyroid.
Modulate Your Immune System
With an autoimmune disease, your immune system is already heighted and overstimulated. You’ll want to be thinking about how what you’re doing is going to affect your immune system. Going to a Twins game? Think about taking a natural antihistamine before and after the game if you suffer from allergies. Going out to eat? Consider bringing a digestive enzyme in case you get spiked with something you’re sensitive to (see below!) Typically get sick during cold/flu season? Consider a preventative strategy to avoid getting sick.
Get Tested for Gluten Intolerance (Or Other Dietary Sensitivities)
There are close ties between celiac disease and thyroid autoimmune conditions, including that you are more likely to develop one if you already have the other. Research is still determining the exact why behind this, but patients with autoimmune thyroid disease who go on a gluten-free diet for a year are more likely to have reduced their thyroid antibodies, and helped stabilize their thyroid output. Plus, any intolerance or food sensitivity can trigger an immune system response, which can exacerbate Hashimoto’s symptoms.
Ditch Hard Workouts for Light Exercise
Few doctors tell you to watch the intensity of your exercise—but we’re here to let you know that there is such a thing as too much when it comes to hitting the workouts hard. It can impact adrenal fatigue and cortisol levels, which makes you more susceptible to hypersensitivity. Cortisol, our main stress hormone, can block the conversion of T4 to active T3 and increase reverse T3, thus impairing thyroid function. So, choose lighter workouts until you’re feeling better.
Drink More Water
Dehydration is a battle for all of us to fight every day, but if your thyroid is underactive, drinking water is a priority. Hashimoto’s patients often have an overburdened liver, and staying hydrated can help your body flush out any extra toxins. Hydration can also help with dry skin, headaches, and constipation.
Clean Up Your Beauty Routine
According to a 2004 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the average adult uses 9 personal care products on a daily basis. Those cosmetics contain an average of 126 chemical ingredients, many of which are linked to cancer, hormone disruptions, or bad allergies. If you’re already working with reduced thyroid function, adding potentially hormone-disrupting products to your skin, which absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it, can further impact your body’s ability to produce vital T3 and T4. Clean up your routine with safer products, and help support your thyroid at the same time.
Add Brazil Nuts to Your Breakfast
Low selenium levels are common in many people with Hashimoto’s. Selenium is an essential trace mineral important for brain function, immunity, and fertility, so if you’re battling thyroid issues, adding foods high in selenium can be helpful to balance your body. Brazil nuts are a good source of selenium, and you can add them to your breakfast (or lunch or dinner) daily for a boost.
Evaluate Your Environmental Factors
Have you ever noticed that you’re hypersensitive to the scent of conventional cleaners, laundry detergent, or other household products? Do you feel like your symptoms alleviate when you spend a few days away from your home? Taking into account your environment, from everyday household chemicals to air quality to the potential for mold in your home can greatly impact your thyroid symptoms. Evaluate what you’re using daily to clean your home, and make sure you’re not overlooking other factors.
Relax for at Least 10 Minutes a Day
When you slow down for a minute, your body is better able to deal with stress. That’s part of why meditation is so powerful, as is breathwork. Taking at least 10 minutes a day to concentrate on relaxation, whether that be a walk in nature, a breath exercise, or just closing your eyes, can be seriously beneficial when it comes to managing your thyroid.
Strive for 8 Hours of Sleep
Speaking of rest, getting 8 quality hours of sleep is another way to promote stress reduction—and give your body a chance to replenish, repair, and reset. And, sleep restriction or short sleep cycles (between 5 and 6 hours per night) has been shown to impact the function of your thyroid axis, and disrupt thyroid hormone levels. Since Hashimoto’s patients already struggle with thyroid hormone regulation, sleep is even more important as a lifestyle treatment option.
Still struggling with your thyroid symptoms? Feel like you need support in making these lifestyle changes—or want to add dietary and supplemental changes? We’re here to help. We specialize in thyroid treatments, and it’s easy to book an appointment online to see us soon.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.