Hashimoto’s Symptoms Getting You Down?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the commonest cause of hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid in Australia. Common symptoms include fatigue, impaired concentration, difficulty losing weight, constipation, depression and hair loss. If you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s but are still experiencing debilitating fatigue, the good news is that there are strategies available to regain your energy and wellbeing.
Here are 4 top tips to help you regain that bounce in your step:
Optimal Thyroid Function Tests
Thyroid function tests are a key measure of how well your thyroid is functioning or in the case of supplemental thyroid hormone, whether your supplementation is adequate.
It is important to check the complete thyroid panel and this includes: TSH, FT4 (free T4) and FT3 (free T3). Often FT3 is not routinely checked, but it is important to assess this thyroid hormone as this is the active thyroid hormone and keeps the metabolism going. So optimising the levels may require readjusting supplemental thyroid hormone to improve symptoms and eliminate persisting fatigue, cognitive difficulties and poor mood.
Check for Nutrient Deficiencie
Iron deficiency is very common in menstruating women and consequently is common in women with Hashimoto’s. Iron studies can easily assess for ferritin levels which are a marker of the body’s iron reserves. Levels should ideally be greater than 50ng/ml and even if the haemoglobin levels are normal, low ferritin can be associated with fatigue. Supplementing with oral iron or where required an iron infusion, can make a significant difference to energy levels.
Vitamin B12 screening is recommended in Hashimoto’s as there is a higher association of an autoimmune condition called pernicious anaemia which leads to malabsorption of vitamin B12. This is easily addressed with the use of sublingual drops of vitamin B12.
Dietary Strategies and Enhance Gut Health
Fatigue may be a symptom of food sensitivities and a percentage of people with Hashimoto’s may have a gluten and/or dairy sensitivity. Gluten especially can be highly inflammatory for some people and there is a higher incidence of coeliac disease in Hashimoto’s. So a trial of eliminating these foods and other inflammatory foods such as sugar and processed carbohydrates could be worthwhile.
Replace these foods with nutrient dense choices such as vegetables, fruit, grass fed meats, fish and use organic where possible. This will also help to balance blood sugar levels, preventing the rapid blood sugar swings that can cause fatigue, anxiety and light-headedness.
As with any autoimmune condition, the health of the gut is important and supporting a healthy gut microbiome with whole foods, supplements and probiotics may be required.
Unfortunately in our modern society, we are constantly presented with stress provoking challenges and with ongoing activation of our fight or flight response, this can lead to fatigue, insomnia, irritability and can also aggravate autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s. This is where lifestyle factors are very important and include gentle exercise, adequate sleep, mindfulness and yoga to name a few.
There are also supplements to support a healthy stress response such as magnesium, B vitamins and various adaptogenic herbs such as withania and rhodiola. Overcoming the fatigue associated with Hashimoto’s is an important part of regaining your health and wellbeing. Your health is a journey and the above strategies can be part of that transformation to a life of vitality and energy.