You’d think that if you can trust anything, it would be your own immune system. After all, your immune system’s one and only job is to repel invaders and keep you healthy. Certainly, its job description does not include attacking your vulnerable and precious thyroid gland and sending you into a tailspin of maddening symptoms, like extreme fatigue, low libido, dry skin, depression, and brain fog.
However, this is exactly what is happening to an estimated 10 million Americans in the United States who have Hashimoto’s Disease, and autoimmune condition and the most common cause of hypothyroidism. What makes an immune system go rogue and mistake an organ, gland, or enzyme for the enemy? What causes Hashimoto’s?
The sad truth is that the cause of this frustrating condition remains a mystery. However, researchers are starting to understand that a wide variety of things can trigger an autoimmune attack. Hashimoto’s cannot be cured, but it can be controlled by understanding and then avoiding these surprising triggers:
- Genetics and Gender
I’m so sorry ladies, but if your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother had any sort of autoimmune condition, you are at a much higher risk of developing the condition yourself, including Hashimoto’s. I am right here with you in the autoimmunity boat. I strongly believe my mother suffered from an autoimmune disorder before she died (much too young), and in 2007 I found out that I had Hashimoto’s. According to The American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA), about 20 percent of the population carries a dominant genetic trait that increases the probably that they will develop an autoimmune disorder. Additionally, around 75 percent of individuals with an autoimmune disease are women.
Remember the sweet smell of pancakes in the morning when you were a kid or digging into a huge plate of pasta at dinner? Yum! Unfortunately, the grains of our youth are very different from the grains today. Those grains came from unadulterated seeds, while today’s grains are almost always genetically modified. It is my strong belief that the rise is autoimmune conditions is linked to the genetically modified grains that are now a part of our daily diet, specifically, the gluten found in wheat, barley, and rye. Our bodies get confused when we eat these unnatural grain proteins, which causes inflammation, a key trigger of autoimmunity. If you have Hashimoto’s, the very best thing you can do for yourself is put down the bread and slowly back away.
The primary trigger for autoimmunity is inflammation within the body. Inflammation often occurs within the digestive tract. Many adults develop a low tolerance for dairy as they age, and even seemingly harmless snacks like a cheese stick or a bagel with cream cheese (gluten and dairy, yikes!) can trigger inflammation, which leads to a flair-up in Hashimoto’s symptoms.
Just to be 100% clear, I am not suggesting that pregnancy should be avoided in order to prevent the occurrence of an autoimmune condition. However, in an estimated four to ten percent of women, changes in hormones during pregnancy can lead to a condition called postpartum thyroiditis, which is basically a form of post-pregnancy Hashimoto’s Disease. There is no way to tell if you will develop this condition until you have actually become pregnant and given birth. Certainly, this risk shouldn’t stop you from starting a family. However, if you have a family history of autoimmunity, be aware of this possibility and watch out for symptoms once your bundle of joy has arrived.
Ah, finally, an autoimmune trigger that we need to work on anyway. Stress is a notorious inflamer. The more stressed you are, the higher the fires of inflammation will burn inside your body, and the more likely your immune system will go haywire. Negative stress is bad for you for all sorts of other reasons too, so it’s time to finally make the decision to manage the stress in your life and seek a more peaceful balance. Even small changes like meditating for ten minutes a day or learning a few simple breathing techniques can drastically improve your health. Getting rid of the big negative stressors in your life, like a cruel friend, a miserable job, or your own self-defeating thoughts should also be on the top of your priority list.
This is only a short list of a few triggers that can unleash the symptoms of Hashimoto’s within you. The key is to understand your own personal triggers and start getting rid of them pronto. Hashimoto’s is not something you can cure; only something you can manage through focus, hard work, and motivation. If you need guidance on putting together a solid plan for dealing with your Hashimoto’s, contact me to schedule a consultation.