Before we start, I want you to know my heart for this post! This is a part of my health journey and learning these pieces below has really helped me so I want to share it with you. It’s not to meant to help you diagnose yourself but to give you suggestions on how to help and heal your thyroid. Of course it is important that if you suspect you have a problem to check with a healthcare provider. And if you haven’t already please take a moment and read this disclaimer here. Ok, let’s talk thyroid health!
The thyroid is one of the eight major glands in the body. It produces the hormones T4, T3 and TSH.
When someone goes to the doctor to have their thyroid tested, the doctor will administer a TSH thyroid test. This test only evaluates the pituitary hormone in the brain, which is important, but is not a complete test of thyroid function. If you go to the doctor for a thyroid test, ask your doctor to test for T4 and T3 hormones. These hormones regulate the cells in your body. Also, ask your doctor test for the rT3 hormone, which your body should produce in much smaller amounts than T3 and T4. Do not let your doctor talk you out of this test.
Some signs of thyroid sickness are: decreased energy (lethargy), depression, slow heart rate, dry skin, weight gain, hair loss, constipation, and feeling cold all the time. A sick thyroid can even negatively affect fertility. If you are thyroid sick and overweight it is important that you see a health care provider and be tested. If your thyroid is not functioning correctly and you are trying to lose weight, you will not be able to, no matter what you try.
There are natural ways to heal your thyroid without medication. Below are some helpful tips for repairing and optimizing thyroid health.
Things to avoid:
- Soy milk and soy proteins – Isoflavones present in soy foods, as well as menopause supplements that contain high amounts of soy can crash your thyroid levels. Soy attacks the thyroid gland suppressing thyroid activity. DO NOT give soy-based formulas to babies.
- All plastic – Yes, even BPA free. Try to always use glass.
- Thyroid thieves called halogens – Fluorine is the worst culprit, along with chlorine, bromine, and iodine. (A few places fluorine is found are tap water, toothpaste and fluoridated salt but there are many more!) Also, though rare, astatine is another halogen that should be avoided. Iodine is the only one of the bunch that is a good guy. The rest are what you call bullies. When you use these bullies they will actually push out the good guy iodine. Your thyroid gland concentrates iodine, but the other halogens are considered toxic to the thyroid gland.
If you want to see if you are iodine deficient you can take a simple test. Go to any drug store pick up some iodine, it’s the orange stuff your mom used to put on your cuts and scrapes. Put a small patch on your inside wrist and wait to see how long it stays. If it stays 24 hours you are good to go. The first time I went into my naturopathic doctor she put the iodine on my wrist and it was gone in a half hour! She put me on iodine for two months. If you find that you are low in iodine, you also need to be careful not to overdo the iodine. You can take iodine supplements. Standard Process is a good brand and I’m sure any organic based product will work.
Ways to add iodine to your diet:
- Seaweed/sea vegetables
The foods below also contain selenium, an important mineral that is most highly concentrated in your thyroid gland. Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt or French grey sea salt, spirulina and coconut oil.
- Brazil and cashew nuts
- Fish: Yellow fin tuna, halibut
- Meat: Chicken, turkey
- Bananas. These foods contain selenium, an important mineral that is most highly concentrated in your thyroid gland. Himalayan salt, Celtic sea salt or French grey sea salt, spirulina and coconut oil.
Low levels of Vitamin D and B12 have been linked to thyroid sickness. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D3 because we are so afraid or too busy to get ourselves out in the sun. My rule of thumb is to sit out in the warm, morning sun for up to 20 minutes without sunscreen to get the daily dose of vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is also found in many foods including fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolk, dairy, and mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light.
Food sources of vitamin B12: poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Or you can take a good organic vitamin B12 supplement.
If you are taking medications for your thyroid and want to begin taking alternative supplements, make sure to take the medication and supplements separately at different times of the day. Do not mix the two. And, if you are going to start supplementing while on medication make sure you talk to your healthcare provider first. While we are on the topic of supplements, here is a list of some that benefit thyroid health.
Supplements to benefit thyroid health: Probiotics and enzymes (which we should all be taking for gut health), kombucha, which is loaded with probiotics and enzymes, P5P, methylcobalamin, iosine, zinc, selenium, manganese, molybdenum, ashwagandha (also beneficial for adrenal health), reversatrol, tyrosine, and mullein.
(Tip: antibiotics, corticosteroids, antacids and acid blockers, estrogens such as birth control, blood pressure pills, caffeine-containing drinks, sugar and refined foods, having an appendectomy, Celiac, Crohn’s Disease, IBS, and alcohol reduce the healthy bacteria in your gut.)
Your body works as a team. Your hormones and major glands long for balance. In fact, your whole body is looking for balance. I highly recommend the book Thyroid Healthy by Suzy Cohen, RPH (find it here). This book is full of information and great tips on how to stay thyroid healthy.