How to determine which diet is the best for your health

Photo: Ursula Spaulding/Unsplash.

Photo: Ursula Spaulding/Unsplash.

Living with Hashimoto’s and making better food choices


If you have Hashimoto’s, food greatly impacts your health. Eating healthy when diagnosed with Hashimoto’s means preventing your immune system from going into overdrive—like causing flare-ups and destroying the thyroid.

On a more personal level, eating healthy can also mean reducing symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s, balancing weight, improving fitness, and more.

The food you eat can determine how healthy you are and the severity of your flare-ups.

Here’s what you need to know about finding the most appropriate individualized food regime:

1. Food sensitivities develop throughout a long period of time. 

It takes months or years for your immune system to start reacting to foods. Symptoms (digestive or other) will also build up through time. The bacteria in your gut are the most important part of your metabolism and the proper functioning of your immune system (1, 2). The foods you eat will determine which bacteria types will be able to grow and thrive. This will then determine the balance of your immune system. Some bacteria types are shown to destroy the gut wall, which causes chronic inflammation of the gut (1, 3, 4).

2. Food sensitivities might change with time.

You might notice that foods you once enjoyed have started giving you problems—this is common and part of the loss of oral tolerance. The bacterial composition of your gut (the microbiome) changes very fast when switching diets. Research on mice has shown it can happen within just one day (5).

3. You are usually more sensitive to foods that we eat often.
This is because the part of your immune system in the gut is exposed to the same type of protein. If you have a genetic predisposition to developing an autoimmune disease, at a certain point your gut might start reacting to this protein If a food sensitivity remains unaddressed, it might age you faster (6). 

4. There is not a universally correct diet, or one approach fits all. What works for others might not work for you.
Food sensitivities are very individual and can be quite specific (e.g. only one type of dairy negatively affects someone, but the rest of the dairy group is fine. Or not all the nut types, but one specific nut affects someone else.)

5. What works for you now might not work for you in the future, what worked for you before might not work for you now.

The gut is a dynamic system and it changes as you age. A lot of factors contribute to this, including stress.

These are the most popular diets for autoimmune diseases:

  • Autoimmune protocol—certain food groups are avoided, including  all dairy, all nightshades, all nuts and seeds, and eggs.

  • Paleo diet—based on foods similar to what might have been eaten during the Paleolithic era, including lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

  • Elimination diet—eliminating certain food groups, or elements, such as dairy or gluten.

  • Intermittent fasting—only eating during certain time frames.

This is what you should do to have lasting results and positive health impacts:

  • Strive to create healthy habits that are a part of your lifestyle

  • Stay on a certain food regime for at least a few weeks to see if it works for you (if it feels damaging before that stop the diet)

  • Don’t try more than one approach at the time—you won’t be able to determine which one might be working. Wait for 2-3 weeks between testing different approaches.

  • Measure daily how your diet impacts your symptoms by tracking in BOOST Thyroid app. Analyse your tracking after 1/3/5 weeks to see the long-term impact.

  • Remember to eat all essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and proteins.


Since there’s not much information about food sensitivities related to Hashimoto’s in  peer-reviewed research, we conducted our own study. According to our study these are the five most common food sensitivities: 

As for beverages, alcohol causes the most flare-ups.

If you’re about to try a new diet, track your symptoms in BOOST Thyroid app and show your doctor your data when evaluating the diet.

References

  1. Brown K, et al. Diet-induced dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiota and the effects on immunity and disease, 2012

  2. Borody TJ, et al. Fecal microbiota transplantation: indications, methods, evidence, and future directions, 2013

  3. Mangan PR, et al. Transforming growth factor-beta induces development of the T(H)17 lineage, 2006

  4. Zhang YJ, et al. Impacts of gut bacteria on human health and diseases, 2015

  5. Turnbaugh PJ, et al. The effect of diet on the human gut microbiome: a metagenomic analysis in humanized gnotobiotic mice, 2009

  6. Jurk D, et al. Chronic inflammation induces telomere dysfunction and accelerates ageing in mice, 2014