Hashimoto’s and Low Stomach Acid
Hashimoto’s is a disease whereby your immune system attacks the thyroid gland causing inflammation (chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis). This gland is located at the base of your neck beneath your Adam’s apple. Its role is to secrete hormones that coordinate several functions in your body.Low stomach acid, also known as hypochlorhydria and lack of stomach acid (achlorhydria) have been linked with Hashimoto’s disease.
People with low stomach acid are vulnerable to a number of health complications which include:
Increased food sensitivities – if proteins are not properly digested, they can induce antigenic responses from your immune system causing increased food sensitivities, particularly to gluten and dairy.
Pathogenic infections – your stomach contains hydrochloric acid which sterilizes everything that gets in. With low stomach acid, you are at a higher risk of pathogenic infections from the food you consume.
Bacterial Overgrowth – stomach acid regulates the growth of bacteria in the small intestines. Low levels of stomach acid can create a favorable environment for bacterial overgrowth.
Nutritional deficiencies – with low stomach acid, your body may not be in a position to absorb some nutrients, such as Vitamin B12, calcium, and iron. This can lead to deficiencies.
Hypergastrinemia – this refers to excessive secretion of a digestive enzyme called gastrin. It usually occurs if the condition is left untreated for a long period. This condition can result in cancerous growths or tumors along the gastrointestinal tract.
Signs and Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid
The most common signs and symptoms of low or lack of stomach acid are typical to acid reflux. These include feeling full and tired following a meal. However, people with low stomach acid experience similar symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s disease. They include:
Fatigue when under thyroid treatment
Low levels of ferritin, iron, and vitamin B12
Undigested food in stools
Bloating, flatulence, or bloating after meals
Nausea or vomiting
Increased sensitivity to cold
Loss of hair
Stiffness and pain in joints
Unexplained weight gain
Enlargement of the tongue
Pale and dull skin
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What Causes Hashimoto’s and Low Stomach Acid?
Being an autoimmune disorder, your immune system forms antibodies that ruin your thyroid gland. Medical experts can not explain the reason behind your immune system attacking your thyroid gland. Some doctors think that it can be caused by a bacterial or viral attack, but others suggest genetic flaw is to blame.
Risk Factors of Hashimoto’s and Low Stomach Acid
Gender – Studies have shown that women are more vulnerable to low stomach acid and Hashimoto’s than men.
Age – Though it can occur at any age, Hashimoto’s disease is more common during the middle age.
Family History – You are more vulnerable to developing the condition if members in your family have thyroid or other autoimmune diseases.
Autoimmune Disease – Patients with other autoimmune diseases like arthritis, type-1 diabetes or lupus are more prone to Hashimoto’s and low stomach acid.
Radiation– Studies suggest that people who are constantly exposed to environmental radiation are more prone to low stomach acid levels and Hashimoto’s disease.
Thyroid surgery – Patients who have a history of thyroid surgery are more prone to low stomach acid and Hashimoto’s.
Complications of Hashimoto’s and Low Stomach Acid
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If left untreated, Hashimoto’s disease and low stomach acid can trigger a number of health complications. These include:
Goiter – Your thyroid gland can become enlarged if it is constantly stimulated to release more hormones. This is a condition known as goiter which is commonly caused by hypothyroidism. Though you may feel uncomfortable, goiter can interfere with breathing and swallowing.
Heart disease – Studies have shown a strong connection between Hashimoto’s and heart disease. This is mainly triggered by high levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, which is also known as “bad” cholesterol. Lack of treatment can cause an underactive thyroid gland. In turn, it can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure.
Mental illness – Depression can strike during the early stages of Hashimoto’s. Over time, it can become severe and manifest as the cognitive malfunction.
Myxedema – Though not common, this is a life-threatening condition that can occur due to long-term hypothyroidism triggered by Hashimoto’s disease. Symptoms include drowsiness, lethargy, and eventually, can lead to unconsciousness.
Birth Defects – Women with untreated hypothyroidism as a result of Hashimoto’s are more likely to give birth to babies with birth defects. Cleft palate is a good example of birth defects linked to hypothyroidism.
Hashimoto’s and Low Stomach Acid Treatment
The most effective treatment for low stomach acid and Hashimoto’s disease aims at reducing, if not eliminating, the antibodies causing inflammation and damage to your thyroid gland. They include:
Eliminate all Trigger Inflammatory Foods
Common trigger inflammatory foods include processed foods, dairy, eggs, sugar, legumes, starchy vegetables, nuts, and grains (corn, seed, and pseudo-grains). Expect results within a few days after these inflammatory foods are eliminated from your digestive tract.
Consume L-Glutamine, Betaine HCL with Pepsin and Digestive Enzymes
These supplements play different roles in healing your gut while lowering your Hashimoto’s antibodies.
L-Glutamine – It seals the gut lining and improves recovery from intestinal permeability.
Betaine HCL – When taken, it helps in breaking down the protein that can be hard to process with a damaged digestive system. Betaine is an acid that assists your stomach to break down whatever is ingested into your stomach. Betaine HCL is best taken after a diet rich in protein.
Digestive Enzymes – These helps to support the already ailing digestive system in breaking down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. They also boost absorption of nutrients along the digestive tract.
Avoid Products with Suspect Ingredients
This aims at reducing toxic substances that come into direct contact with your body. It makes you less susceptible to health problems. Lowering oxidative damage and detoxing can help to lower your thyroid antibodies.
Take Epsom Salt Baths
Baths help in relaxing, removing toxins, and reduces stress. Epsom salt is a natural detox which is enriched in magnesium and fights inflammation. Soak in a warm bath with Epsom salt for 20 minutes daily to purge toxins and give your body essential minerals every morning. It is a great way to improve your thyroid antibodies and reduce inflammation.
Apple Cider Vinegar or Lemon Juice
This is another great way of supporting your stomach acid. Simply dilute a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of cold water. Stir thoroughly and enjoy it every morning on an empty stomach. Alternatively, squeeze the juice from a lemon into a cup of hot water and enjoy the drink. Lemon juice is acidic and can support digestion in a patient with low stomach acid.
Get Adequate Rest
Sleeping and resting adequately can significantly help in lessening symptoms associated with Hashimoto’s and low stomach acid. When asleep, many systems in your body move into a relaxed state. This allows more energy to be allocated to your brain to help in the elimination of toxins. In turn, it boosts your immune system, rebalances cortisol levels, and makes you refreshed the next day.