According to the American Thyroid Association, Hashimoto’s disease (or Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. The Autoimmune Protocol Diet, or AIP for short, is a Hashimoto’s disease treatment that is accomplished by a diet.
Without a doctor’s advice, most people don’t know what the best direction is for following the diet.
This is how to follow the autoimmune protocol diet for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
“What is Hashimoto’s disease?” you may ask if you have never heard of it before your diagnosis. Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune disorder that chronically inflames the thyroid gland, which leads to impaired thyroid hormones, a decline in the thyroid’s function, and an underactive thyroid eventually.
It is a disease that is not immediately visible unless you have either a blood test done to check your thyroid levels or you see an endocrinologist. Another issue is that it could take years to develop before you start seeing symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms of Hashimoto’s include:
- Weight gain
- Goiter (enlarged thyroid gland)
- High cholesterol levels
- Depression or other mental health issues
- Dry, pale skin
- Thinning hair
- Hair loss
- Infertility issues
- And much more
Without proper treatment, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and hypothyroidism can grow worse and lead to a decline in your quality of life.
How to Treat Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
While doctors are still searching for a permanent cure for Hashimoto’s disease, there are some treatments that patients can use to better their quality of life.
One method touted by doctors is to place the individual on medication that balances and replaces the thyroid hormone, which will also help restore their body’s metabolism. Depending on different factors in your everyday life, the medication can come in different strengths.
After that, the person is administered a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) test to monitor how the thyroid is functioning. This will help make sure the person is getting the correct dose. Since hormones in the thyroid gland act slowly compared to other parts of the body, it can take a few months for symptoms to disappear and make the goiter grow smaller.
The one issue is that if a large goiter doesn’t improve over a certain period of time, it may be necessary to get surgery to take out the thyroid gland.
Another way is to start treating your Hashimoto’s is to undergo the Autoimmune Protocol Diet to place the disease into remission if you think your symptoms may be food-related.
The Process of the Autoimmune Protocol Diet
The Autoimmune Protocol Diet was developed by a scientist who found out that some foods, depending on the autoimmune disease a person has, can trigger inflammation within the body and make symptoms worse. While the diet appears like the Paleo diet, it is specially designed to fit individuals with autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s.
During the process, the immune stimulants and inflammatory foods are eliminated and then slowly reintroduced. Below are the important information and timeline you will need to complete the diet to its full potential.
Eliminate Triggering Foods
In order to reduce inflammation in the body and promoting a sense of healing, you need to get rid of any foods that may be triggering your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
Some of the foods that should be removed from your diet when following the AIP diet:
- Nightshade vegetables (i.e. cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, white potatoes)
- Oils (except for coconut, olive, and avocado)
- Grains (i.e. corn, quinoa, buckwheat, rice)
- Food additives
- Refined and processed sugars
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) medications that could affect the diet’s effectiveness (i.e. ibuprofen, high-dose aspirin)
While the length of the elimination period does vary, it does typically last from thirty to ninety days, with improvements potentially appearing as early as the first three weeks of elimination.
What Foods Should Be Eaten
There can appear to be some limits when going through the first part of this Hashimoto’s disease treatment. While there are many foods that should be avoided in the elimination process, the person doing the diet is encouraged to consume items like:
- Fresh, nutrient-dense foods
- Minimally processed or organic meat
- Fermented foods
- Bone broth
- Organic and/or low glycemic fruits and vegetables
In addition to this, people on the diet are encouraged to make changes to their lifestyle. This can be done through exercising and physical activity and making improvements to sleep routines and stress levels.
Overall, the goal is to keep your body consuming foods that our ancestors would have eaten before modern times.
The Reintroduction Period
After improvements in your symptoms and well-being start to occur, it is time to reintroduce these foods into your diet and see which ones aggravate your autoimmune system and how much you can tolerate them.
To do this, one group of food is reintroduced one at a time for a period of about a week. After that week, you reintroduce another group of food.
Why a week? This is so you can observe how your body reacts to the food group in question and see if it causes any of your previous symptoms to reoccur. If it does, then you know to remove it from your diet permanently.
If it does not cause any symptoms, you can keep that food group in your diet. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it may be possible your tolerance to something can change over time. If that does happen, remove it from your diet.
Reintroduction Done Step-By-Step
If you want a better vision of how the reintroduction process should go, this list will help you with that. Here is the step-by-step approach you could potentially use.
- Choose one food group to reintroduce and plan on consuming this food a few times per day on the first day, then avoiding it for five to six days.
- Eat a small amount (i.e. one teaspoon) and wait 15 minutes.
- If there are symptoms, end the test and remove this food from your permanent diet. If you have no symptoms, eat a slightly larger portion of it and monitor how you feel for a few hours.
- If you experience any symptoms this time, end the test. If none occur, eat a normal portion of the tested food, then avoid it for five to six days without reintroducing anything else.
- After this period, if you experience no symptoms, you can reincorporate the food that was tested into your diet.
- Repeat with every new food.
Take care to not do the test at a time that may affect results. You can also try to do the process in a certain order.
What Happens After the Diet Is Over?
At the end of the diet period, you should hopefully have a better idea about which consumable items trigger the symptoms of your Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. The AIP diet, in general, should not be used as a long-term diet, since the goal is to place the autoimmune disease, i.e Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, into remission.
The first thing you should do after finishing the process is to get another test to see if your thyroid antibodies have improved, with levels being hopefully lowered.
Control Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis With the Autoimmune Protocol Diet
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis can be a difficult autoimmune disease to treat and it can exacerbate your hypothyroidism if you are not careful. When seeking to start the diet, it is best to talk to your doctor first about whether it is the right treatment option for you.
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