Hashimoto’s and autoimmune illnesses are multifactorial – they don’t result by one particular cause. Read more about avoiding the top 3 risk factors here.

If you have been diagnosed with this autoimmune condition or you suspect that this might be the cause behind your condition, it’s crucial that you educate yourself about the associative factors that accompany low thyroid function and autoimmunity.

HT and autoimmune illnesses like it are multifactorial, which means that HT doesn’t have one particular cause. There’s a string of endless possibilities when it comes to the root of imbalances and conditions from which HT stems. However, there are some well-known commonalities amongst individuals who suffer from autoimmunity:

1. Genetic makeup

It’s no secret that conventional medical circles tend to blame almost every health issue on genetics. It is important to keep in mind, however, that a genetic framework doesn’t dictate the outcome of your condition.

There have been many scientific strides in the medical arena of genetics that have demonstrated how genes can be turned on or off by various factors, regardless of our inherent DNA code.

This is studied in the field of epigenetics, which proposes that even though we are born with certain genes that may put us at a higher risk of developing a disease, that does not determine how you deal with the illness. This suggests that we are able to take back control over our bodies and our health or, on the flip side, we have the power to turn on the genes that will cause us harm. This is the reason why it’s so important to pay attention to nutrition, exercise, stress, toxins, environmental elements, and lifestyle factors: These elements influence our health risks.

Three Risk Factors for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis

2. Environmental Stressors

There are many environmental factors  that can contribute to the development of a disease by altering our genetic expression and damaging other processes that our bodies need to function. These could include

  1. smoking
  2. stress
  3. exposure to heavy metals

These triggers, among others, can affect the immune system and teach it to respond to certain molecules in specific ways.

Common stressors, for example, are infections or food allergies. The triggers that stem from your environment could also be caused by a lack of sleep, eating a low-calorie diet, having nutritional deficiencies, and engaging in minimal to no physical activity. Providing the body with the elements it needs for optimal function is crucial; otherwise, it will overcompensate by taking resources from other bodily systems that it deems less necessary for survival.  

3. Leaky Gut

An individual suffering from an autoimmune condition is most likely also suffering from leaky gut syndrome. This condition, also known as intestinal permeability, occurs when the digestive cells, which are supposed to create a continuous barrier, disassemble. The areas between the cells—tight junctions—prevent undigested food or other particles from making their way into the bloodstream. When these areas are damaged, tiny spaces open up and allow molecules from the outside to access the intestines. The damage from leaky gut syndrome causes continual immune responses as well as chronic inflammation.

It is vital to keep in mind that almost 70% of your immune system originates in your gut.

This is easy to see when you take into account how your digestive tract is continually screening a nonstop influx of foreign molecules that you are exposed to through food, contaminants, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Immune cells are tasked with identifying the safe molecules and flagging the harmful ones. This is surely a complicated and important job.

No, we can’t change our genes, but that doesn’t mean we should accept defeat. Our job in the healing process is to take charge of the environmental factors to which we expose ourselves to encourage a healthy gut and overall well-being.

If you have HT, or you suspect that you are suffering from the symptoms, you should make the first step in recovery and find a qualified functional medicine practitioner who can help you look for stressors in your environment. Once you do that, the two of you can explore your treatment options and come up with a plan that will optimize your health and potentially reverse your condition.