Hashimotos – Case Study 1

Hashimoto’s cleared by diet

by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist

Client name and identifying information changed

At Amelia’s first consultation, she told me she had Hashimoto’s disease for which she was taking medication and her blood studies such as her TSH, free T3 and free T4 were fine. However, her highly elevated thyroid antibodies were just not coming down.

Amelia previously had various tests to find out why she couldn’t stop her body from destroying her thyroid gland, and because her doctor was threatening to remove it, she wanted to see if anything else could be done.

I ran tests to assess the condition of her digestive system, heavy metal and mineral balance, plus for vitamins that are important for a healthy thyroid such as iron, iodine, vitamin D, selenium, tyrosine, B6 and B12.

I suggested that while waiting for the results, to go on a gluten and dairy free diet to see if it helped. Amelia disagreed as previous tests showed she had no sensitivity to gluten, dairy products or anything else.

The test results showed many nutrient imbalances as well as inflammation and leaky gut. Because Amelia refused to change her diet, we focused on supplemental nutrients and products to help heal her gut and reduce inflammation.

Amelia did this for a few months and then we re-tested everything. This time all her nutrients were in good balance, her gut still showed a little inflammation but her antibodies hadn’t significantly changed.

So once again the topic of gluten and dairy free foods came up and Amelia folded her arms, convinced it wouldn’t make any difference. I said she really didn’t have anything to lose, and possibly much to gain, so it was worth giving it a good try. She agreed.

I knew we had to do as much as possible with her diet in the shortest time possible, because I might not have her trust for long. So I put her right into the deep end by removing all foods that may be cross-reactive with gluten, as well as the top 10 allergenic foods, high FODMAP foods, high histamine foods, nightshade family foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and of course foods that contained gluten and dairy. In short, the Auto-Immune Paleo Diet.

We called it a detox to help Amelia ‘get her head’ around what we were doing and really that’s what it was, a detox from any inflammation producing food or substances that might be driving her condition.

I asked Amelia for a commitment of 12 weeks and during this time we used minimal supplements (just probiotics) now that her levels of nutrients were good. I made sure her meals were fresh and varied as possible, and to use organic produce for optimal nutrition without added chemicals.

We arranged another appointment in three months when we would retest again and in the meantime, to contact me if any questions.

Amelia was totally committed during her three-month detox, and when she returned, she couldn’t wait to go and eat the foods she missed from her previous diet.

We tested everything and discovered all her markers were excellent and her antibodies were now within the reference range for her thyroid (which she and her doctor were very surprised to see). She also admitted she felt much better than before.

Next it was time to re-introduce foods back into her diet, while observing any symptoms or changes to her body and energy. I instructed Amelia to leave the gluten and dairy products till last. We arranged for testing to be done at two-month intervals to ensure her antibodies weren’t sneaking up again.

The first foods re-introduced were the nightshade family foods, which seemed to be ok, then the histamine foods and FODMAP foods. Amelia noticed a few foods gave her gas and bloating and made her tired, so she left these out as she didn’t miss them too much, so it was no big deal.

Then she tried dairy products which seemed ok, but did give her mucus in the mornings, and for about an hour after eating them she also had mucus and a mild headache across her sinus areas. At this point we retested her anti-bodies and they were still good.

Amelia then had to go back to her core clean diet for two weeks to clear the dairy from her system before trialling the gluten foods. With each of the foods that contained gluten, including wheat pasta, bread and soy sauce, she felt sick, aching and had a headache – even though these weren’t her normal symptoms previously.

She admitted that even though she spent the whole 12 weeks thinking about her next pasta meal or slice of bread, after eating them again she lost that desire as they didn’t feel at all right in her body.

Even though it was only two weeks since her previous antibody test, we re-tested after the gluten trial. Her thyroid antibodies were very high again as if we had not achieved anything with her dietary changes. We then definitely knew that gluten harmed her body, even though her previous intolerance tests ‘showed otherwise’.

Amelia knew she only needed to remove the gluten for her thyroid’s sake, but because the trial proved to her what foods and substances did not serve her general health and wellbeing, she decided to live a gluten and dairy free lifestyle that was also low in sugar – which she removed because sugar made her feel lethargic an hour after the initial energy spike.

There were no more folded arms of resistance from Amelia, her experience and self-observations convinced her what was best for her body. Fantastic!

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