While to the outside world actress Zoe Saldana, 38, appears to have it all, the Star Trek franchise star recently revealed to Net-A-Porter that she’s been battling an autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
According to Mayo Clinic, Hasimoto’s disease, also called chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, is a condition that causes the immune system to attack your thyroid, a small gland located at the base of your neck, in turn creating inflammation of the thyroid, which then leaks, resulting in excess thyroid hormones. Hashimoto refers to the Japanese surgeon who first described the disease in 1912.
Saldana explained the condition in the online magazine: “Your body doesn’t have the energy it needs to filter toxins, causing it to believe that it has an infection, so it’s always inflamed… You create antibodies that attack your glands so you have to eat clean.” Over time, the disease, results in decreased levels of thyroid hormone, which is a hormone the body uses to regulate heart rate, temperature, digestion, metabolism, weight and many other processes.
Saldana opened up about how the disease hit her unexpectedly. “…Then your doctor says you’re losing calcium in your bones. What the f*** is that?!” said Saldana. “I would hear those conversations with my mom and grandma, thinking I’d never get there. I’m going to live forever! But all of a sudden it hits you,” she told Net-A-Porter.
Although the illness is commonly thought of as a genetic disease, further research states that environmental factors like radiation exposure could also contribute, Dr. Sean McGann, an emergency physician and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians, told “Today.”
To combat the effects of the autoimmune disease, Saldana said she and her husband, Marco Perego, stick to a gluten and dairy-free diet. “The standard treatment is lifelong thyroid hormone replacement, which can usually be done with a daily oral medication,” explained McGann. “Though optimal nutrition is important to help the body fight all disease processes.”