The 38-year-old actress, Zoe Saldana, star of a slew of movie hits like the Star Trek series, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar, said last week she has been diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, or Hashimoto’s Disease.

Image/The Global Dispatch
Image/The Global Dispatch

“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,” Saldana said in an interview with The Edit. “You create antibodies that attack your glands, so you have to eat clean.”

Saldana’s sister and mother also suffer from the autoimmune disease.

An estimated 22 million people in the U.S. have Hashimoto’s disease, making it the most common autoimmune disease in the country.

According to the NIH, in Hashimoto’s disease, the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and interfering with its ability to produce thyroid hormones. Large numbers of white blood cells called lymphocytes accumulate in the thyroid. Lymphocytes make the antibodies that start the autoimmune process.

Hashimoto’s disease often leads to reduced thyroid function, or hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a disorder that occurs when the thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone for the body’s needs. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism—the way the body uses energy—and affect nearly every organ in the body. Without enough thyroid hormone, many of the body’s functions slow down.

Hashimoto’s disease is much more common in women than men. Although the disease often occurs in adolescent or young women, it more commonly appears between 30 and 50 years of age.