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About 20% of the U.S. population has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. It’s estimated that an additional 20% also have hypothyroidism but don’t know it, for a potential total of 40% of us affected by hypothyroidism.
Of the people who know they have hypothyroidism, at least 50% and up to 90% have been misdiagnosed. The majority of cases of diagnosed hypothyroidism are actually an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Two blood markers that are part of a complete thyroid panel identify Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. These are:
- TPO (thyroperoxidase) antibodies
- TG (thyroglobulin) antibodies
When antibody levels are elevated, this indicates an autoimmune destruction of thyroid tissue.
Now that you know these statistics, you can easily see that if you have or suspect you have hypothyroidism, it is vitally important for you to be tested for thyroid antibodies. A simple thyroid panel measuring only TSH, T4 and T3 is simply not enough to determine whether autoimmunity is an issue for you.
What does it mean to have thyroid antibodies?
In the beginning stages of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thyroid tissue releases stored thyroid hormone during an autoimmune attack. This can cause hyperthyroid symptoms that calm down once the attack has subsided, and return with the next attack. If your doctor must continually adjust your thyroid medication dosage up and down, this is likely what is going on with you.
Graves disease can present with alternating symptoms of hyper- and hypothyroidism as well. Graves disease is an autoimmune thyroid disorder that results in hyperthyroidism. Those with hyperthyroidism should be tested for:
- TSI (thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulin) antibodies.
It’s not uncommon for all three types of antibodies (TPO Ab, TG Ab, and TSI) to be present in the same person, so all three should be tested.
Don’t feed the destruction of your thyroid gland
Food is one of the significant triggers of autoimmunity.
Our food has changed tremendously in the past fifty years, with pesticides, herbicides, industrial hybridization and genetic modifications altering the very food we eat, even before processing. Processing of foods adds chemical preservatives, colorings, and flavorings. All of these together are a huge challenge for the human body to digest and assimilate.
When food sensitivity is present, you may experience outward symptoms such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. However, only half of people with confirmed food sensitivities experience digestive symptoms. So, while you may think that gluten or dairy do not affect you because you have no digestive distress after eating them, think again, especially if you have an autoimmune disorder or thyroid dysfunction of any type. Your grilled cheese sandwich may be accelerating your thyroid destruction!
Get tested for thyroid antibodies and food sensitivities
So if you are given a simple diagnosis or hypo or hyperthyroidism without being first tested for thyroid antibodies, request these tests; but don’t stop there. Get yourself tested for food sensitivities. We use the most sensitive test on the market, from Cyrex Labs. The Cyrex Labs Array #4 test will identify foods that may be contributing to your autoimmune attacks. Simply covering up your symptoms with thyroid medication will not stop the progression of the autoimmune damage to your thyroid gland.
You may also skip the testing and completely avoid eating all 25 of the foods that are tested on the Cyrex Labs Array #4, but this can be really difficult to maintain. We have had great success with clients feeling better and lowering their autoimmune antibodies after cutting out their specific trigger foods. We have had many who have gotten their antibody levels back to normal with continued strict avoidance of those foods.
No medication will resolve your health challenges better than your own body, but only when it is given the right support. Put down the pizza and start your journey back to your healthy self.