Autoimmune Paleo Diet and Hashimoto’s Disease
It’s common knowledge that our nutrition plays a vital role in our health outcomes. Research links good nutrition to a longer life, better health, and a lower risk of chronic disease.
But what about nutrition for an already established disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is a condition that requires life-long treatment to manage. But can our nutrition have a positive impact? Let’s discuss.
What Is Hashimoto’s Disease?
Hashimoto’s disease is an autoimmune condition characterized by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland (1). As a result, the thyroid gland becomes less active, leading to hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s disease can have the opposite effect in rare cases: the thyroid gland becomes overactive, leading to hyperthyroidism.
Both outcomes are bad, which is why management of the condition is crucial. Most patients benefit from thyroid hormone replacement therapy, which makes up for the low hormonal production, allowing patients to lead normal lives.
The condition typically takes a long time to develop. The immune system attacks the thyroid gland slowly, damaging it and reducing its ability to work normally. Eventually, it leads to symptoms, such as (2):
- Hair loss
- Puffy face
- Uncontrollable weight gain
- Muscle weakness
Can a Paleo Diet Help With Hashimoto’s Disease?
Aside from standard treatment, scientists and other bright minds have been looking for different ways to treat and manage Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune conditions.
One option that’s become popular in recent years is the paleo diet, which you’re probably familiar with. The diet’s premise is to consume only foods, which cavemen ate. Examples include meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, and nuts. All processed foods are off-limits.
The issue with paleo dieting is that it can include some potentially inflammatory foods that trigger an autoimmune response (3). The good news is, there is a diet that takes things a step further, which can be beneficial for people with Hashimoto’s disease.
The Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Diet
This diet is designed to eliminate foods, which people are commonly sensitive to. In doing so, patients can more effectively manage symptoms and lead normal lives (4).
The goal of the AIP diet isn’t to restrict your food options forever. Instead, the idea is to eliminate certain foods and observe how the body reacts. A reintroduction protocol then allows patients to start consuming a wider variety of foods while looking for adverse effects (5).
A common misconception about the AIP diet is that it works for any autoimmune condition, which is false. Such a nutritional approach aims to help people determine what the best foods are for them and what foods they might want to avoid.
Since the AIP diet is based on paleo guidelines, both approaches have similarities. Here is a list of food you can eat while following an autoimmune paleo diet:
- Grass-fed meat
- Organ meat, including liver and kidney
- Bone broth
- Most fruits and veggies, including berries, apples, lettuce, cucumber, and more
- Fermented foods
- Coconut, avocado, and olive oil
- Non-seed-derived spices and herbs, such as turmeric, basil, and oregano
The goal is to stick with a narrow food list and note how you feel over a few weeks. You can then begin to reintroduce some foods – ideally, the ones you miss most and write down how you feel. Keeping a food and health log can be incredibly beneficial. Write down what you eat, including respective quantities. Also, take note of your well-being, energy levels, sleep quality, and other similar things.