Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the leading cause of low-thyroid symptoms is the US.
Whether you have been diagnosed or suspect HT might be behind your low thyroid symptoms, it is important to educate yourself about the risk factors associated with low thyroid and thyroid autoimmunity.
Autoimmune diseases like HT are multifactorial, meaning the disease has no singular primary cause. While there are endless options for the imbalances and conditions that contribute to HT, there are well-established commonalities among those suffering from autoimmunity.
These are the top 3 risk factors for Hashimoto’s
While conventional health care tends to blame everything on genetics, it is important to understand that genetic framework is just that—framework.
Scientific strides made over the last few decades in the field of genetics have revealed that although we are born with a distinct DNA code, genes can be turned on or off by various factors. This research occurs in the field of epigenetics, which suggests that while our DNA may make us more susceptible to developing certain diseases, that is not where the story ends. We also harness control over whether the gene code for our specific susceptibilities is turned on and make our bodies vulnerable to disease. This is, in its true essence, the reason that nutrition, exercise, stress, toxins and the like can determine our health risks.
2. Environmental Triggers
Environmental triggers can contribute to disease by affecting our genetic expression and by damaging other processes throughout the body. While overt factors like
- heavy metals
can affect health at the genetic level, other triggers interact with our immune system and teach it to react to specific molecules.
Infections and food allergies are examples of this type of trigger. Environmental triggers can also be caused by lack of sleep, lack of food (low-calorie diets), lack of nutrients (deficiency), and lack of activity. When the body does not get what it needs to function, it compensates by begging, borrowing, and stealing from systems that it deems less necessary for survival.
3. Intestinal Permeability
Anyone that suffers from autoimmunity also suffers from “leaky gut” or intestinal permeability. Leaky gut occurs when the digestive cells, which should create a continuous barrier, begin to break apart. There are areas between cells called “tight junctions,” named for the way in which they bind cells tightly together. These areas prevent undigested foods or foreign particles from entering the bloodstream. When tight junctions are damaged, microscopic spaces open and render the intestines defenseless against the outside world. This condition is also referred to as a “leaky gut” for obvious reasons. This damage causes a constant immune response and chronic inflammation.
It is important to note that approximately 70% of the immune system originates in the gut. This makes sense when you consider that your digestive tract is tasked with screening a consistent influx of foreign molecules from food, contaminants, bacteria, viruses, and fungi throughout each day. Immune cells need to identify which molecules are safe and which are harmful. This is a complicated and heavy job!
While we cannot change our genes, we can influence environmental factors that a healthy gut and overall vitality!
If you are suffering from symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, find a qualified functional medicine doctor that can help you assess your environmental triggers for autoimmunity and create an effective treatment plan to heal your gut and recover from your disease!