There’s something about a celebrity sharing a health issue publicly that helps bring much needed attention to it. Actress Zoe Saldana, who starred in movies like “Avatar” and “Star Trek Beyond,” recently revealed that she suffers from an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. She shared that her mother and sister also have this condition.
What is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as autoimmune thyroiditis, is when your body makes antibodies against your own thyroid gland. Autoimmune thyroiditis is a disease state of the immune system that leads to hypothyroidism. It is also known as Hashimoto’s disease, having been named after Dr. Hakaru Hashimoto, a Japanese physician, who first described it in 1912, while working in Germany.
With autoimmune thyroiditis, and individual’s immune system produces antibodies that attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and glandular damage, resulting in a decreased ability to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormone. Antibodies also bind to the circulating thyroid hormones in the blood, making them less available to the cells. It essentially makes you hypothyroid, and you exhibit the symptoms of hypothyroidism such as fatigue, cold hands and feet, difficulty concentrating, short term memory loss, trouble sleeping, depression, mood swings, constipation, hair loss, weight gain, brain fog, and joint and muscle aches and pains.
How Do I know if I have Hashimoto’s?
If you have symptoms of hypothyroidism, your blood should be specifically tested to determine if you have autoimmune thyroiditis. This can be done by having your blood checked for two thyroid antibodies:
1. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOAB) and
2. Antithyroglobulin antibodies (ATA)
Why Your Doc May Miss This Diagnosis
Unfortunately, most physicians do not routinely perform blood tests to determine if their patients have autoimmune thyroiditis, which, if present, might explain the reason for their hypothyroid symptoms. It is extremely common for patients who have autoimmune thyroiditis to otherwise have routine thyroid blood tests in the so-called normal range. Routine thyroid blood tests do not reveal the presence of autoimmune thyroiditis, which affects the cells’ ability to utilize thyroid hormones. This is one of the reasons that hypothyroidism often remains undiagnosed.
Natural Treatment for Hashimoto’s
Hashimoto’s can be treated with desiccated thyroid preparations resulting in effectively eliminating the symptoms of hypothyroidism once you have reached the optimal thyroid dosage.
The Gluten-Hashimoto’s Connection
Saldana explained that she has adopted a gluten-free diet to help fight Hashimoto’s. “You create antibodies that attack your glands, so you have to eat clean,” she said, and she’s right.
There is a relationship between gluten sensitivity and autoimmune thyroiditis, because sensitivity to gluten can cause the immune system to make antibodies against the thyroid gland, as occurs with Hashimoto’s.
Interestingly, Hashimoto’s may result from what you eat, specifically grain products such as wheat, rye, and barley. In individuals with healthy intestines, grain products do not routinely cause a problem. But when an individual has inflammation of the intestines, a leaky gut syndrome may occur. In leaky gut syndrome, the lining of the intestines becomes inflamed and impaired, allowing for food proteins, such as gluten, bacterial byproducts, and other toxins, to enter the blood stream. When this occurs, the immune system reacts to these foreign proteins by making antibodies to destroy them. These antibodies may then cross-react and attack various organs and tissues in the body. This is the likely cause of autoimmune disease.
The solution is to eat a gluten-free diet. This means the elimination of all grain products, specifically wheat, barley, and rye. Saldana also said that she is cutting dairy out of her diet, which is a common food allergen and can also cause intestinal inflammation and leaky gut syndrome which could possibly lead to autoimmune problems.