The Keto Diet And Hashimoto's Disease

Also called Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Hashimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder that makes the immune system attack its own thyroid gland. This hampers the capacity of the thyroid gland to produce enough thyroid hormones, leading to a condition called hypothyroidism. 

Causes of Hashimoto's disease

The following are the main causes of Hashimoto's disease:

  1. Genetics. Most people who suffer from Hashimoto's disease have a family history of thyroid problems.

  2. Radiation exposure. Long-term exposure to environmental radiation can increase your chances of developing Hashimoto’s disease.

  3. Environmental factors such as exposure to excessive iodine. Elevated levels of iodine may trigger thyroid disease in people already at risk.

Symptoms of Hashimoto's disease

Here are common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Chronic fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Muscle aches

  • Fertility problems

  • Depression

  • Slowed heart rate

  • Irregular menses

Complications of Hashimoto's disease

 The complications of Hashimoto's disease include:

  • High cholesterol levels

  • Heart complications

  • Hypertension

  • Myxedema 

Outlook for Hashimoto's Disease

With the proper treatment, the outlook for someone with Hashimoto's disease is excellent. Using medication to restore the thyroid hormone levels effectively reverses the symptoms of Hashimoto's.

However, if the condition goes untreated, it can worsen over time and ultimately lead to organ failure.

What is the keto diet?

The keto diet, also known as the ketogenic diet, is a high-fat, low-carb diet that has become a popular choice for people looking to lose weight. In the past, the keto diet was used to manage symptoms of childhood epilepsy.

According to the traditional ketogenic diet, you should limit carbohydrate consumption to approximately 15g a day. However, this threshold is different for different groups of people.

The foundation of the keto diet is high-fat foods such as oils, fish, avocado, eggs, cheese, specific types of meats, nuts, and seeds. Non-starchy vegetables and limited amounts of lime, lemons, and berries are allowed.

How does the keto diet work?

Knowing how the body converts food into energy is important to understand how the ketogenic diet works.

The body's primary source of energy is glucose. When the body fails to receive enough glucose from digested food, it uses glycogen for energy.

Glycogen is glucose stored in the body, mainly in the liver. Because the liver cannot store more than 100 grams of glycogen, the reserve can be quickly exhausted during strenuous and prolonged exercise or calorie restriction.

The body doesn’t shut down when it no longer has enough glucose, either from the stored glycogen or food. Instead, it relies on fatty acids and ketones for energy. Ketones are water-soluble molecules produced in the liver from the breakdown of fatty acids.

There are three types of ketones:

  1. Acetoacetate

  2. Hydroxybutyrate

  3. Acetone

The ketogenic diet works on the principle that by depriving the body of carbohydrates, its primary energy source, the body is forced to burn its fat reserves. This is known as ketosis.

Achieving a state of ketosis generally happens within the first two to four days after consistently consuming less than 20-50 grams of carbohydrates every day. These results may vary because people have different metabolism rates.

In theory, an individual can remain in a state of ketosis for as long as they want. However, experts are deeply divided on this topic. While some argue that it is harmless, most recommend this diet plan as a short-term solution for weight loss.

Is the keto diet helpful in managing Hashimoto's disease?

It can be hard to know exactly how the keto diet can benefit people with Hashimoto's disease because there isn’t enough research.

However, after eliminating reactive foods such as dairy, soy, gluten, and grains, it is reasonable to assume that the ketogenic diet can promote some benefits for people with Hashimoto's. 

Benefits of the keto diet for people with Hashimoto's disease

The following are the main advantages of using the keto diet to manage Hashimoto's disease:

1. Reduced oxidative stress and increased energy

Oxidative stress leads to inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, such as Hashimoto's. The keto diet can help lower reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and prevent damage to tissue in the body.

2. Reducing inflammation

Chronic inflammation is an issue for people with Hashimoto's disease. Following a ketogenic diet with plenty of anti-inflammatory foods can help reduce inflammation¹, which, in turn, alleviates symptoms of Hashimoto's disease.

3. Regulating blood sugar levels

People with Hashimoto's disease often have spiked sugar levels. A low-carb ketogenic diet can help balance the blood sugar levels² for those dealing with Hashimoto's disease.

Potential adverse effects

While there are numerous advantages to using a keto diet for the treatment and management of Hashimoto's disease, there are also some drawbacks:

  • Irregular bowel movements

  • Low energy levels

  • Muscle cramps

  • Bad breath

Considering the outcomes above, for people with Hashimoto’s disease, a diet with fewer carbohydrate restrictions is better. 

Common Hashimoto's Disease Treatments

The following are the common types of treatments for Hashimoto's disease:

1. T-4 Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hypothyroidism linked to Hashimoto's disease can be treated with levothyroxine, a synthetic hormone. This hormone works the same way as the T4 hormone naturally produced by the thyroid gland. The objective of this treatment is to restore the required T-4 hormone levels.

Note that you will use this treatment for the rest of your life.

2. Lifestyle changes

To manage Hashimoto's disease, you may have to incorporate specific changes to your diet and exercise routine and manage your stress levels.

The lowdown

In addition to helping you lose weight and increasing your energy levels,  the keto diet may have many other benefits for people living with Hashimoto's disease.

However, to manage the condition, it is recommended to stick to a diet with fewer carbohydrate restrictions while also enjoying lots of anti-inflammatory foods.

Before you start any diet program, talk to your doctor so that together you can evaluate any potential risks and find what best works for you.

Join our email list

Want all the latest clinical trial and HealthMatch news in your inbox? We thought you might! Sign up below.



Join our email list

Want all the latest clinical trial and HealthMatch news in your inbox? We thought you might! Sign up below.