The thyroid is very important and needs to be cared for. It’s part of the endocrine system and helps to regulate your metabolism. The thyroid keeps your metabolism in check through production of special hormones it produces through the extraction of iodine from the blood. On a smaller level, the thyroid also produces calcitonin. Calcitonin helps control blood calcium levels.
There are many things that can go wrong with your thyroid, the most common of which is hypo- and hyperthyroidism. These conditions occur when the thyroid produces too much or too little of the hormones.
Thyroid disorders are most common in women. Different thyroid conditions may appear in women as early as 40. But men aren’t completely safe either. It’s believed women are affected more than men because of a difference in the immune systems and stress having a heavier impact on women.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is under active, meaning it produces too little hormones. Hypothyroidism could go years before being diagnosed by your doctor. It develops slowly, and could cause obesity, joint pain, and heart disease.
Signs you may have it, and should get checked, include cold sensitivity, little appetite, impaired memory, depression, slowed heart rate, thinning hair, pain and stiffness in your joints and muscles, dry skin, elevated cholesterol levels, and fatigue. It can be caused by autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, or other chronic inflammatory disorders), poor diet, hyperthyroid treatment, thyroid surgery, and certain medications.
Hypothyroidism can also cause secondary thyroid issues such as goiter (a swollen or enlarged thyroid) and myxedema (severe hypothyroidism). Myexedema could lead to myexedema coma, which is loss of brain function due to longstanding low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. Myexedema coma is life threatening, but is also a rare condition. Hypothyroidism could also be caused by an issue in the pituitary gland or hypothalamus. If you have hypothyroidism, it is very important to determine the cause and address it accordingly. Left unchecked, it could become life threatening.
Roughly 4.6% of the population of the United States alone has hypothyroidism and many are unaware they even have it. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is what’s called Hashimoto’s disease, which is a condition where your immune system is attacking the thyroid. Roughly 90% of hypothyroidism sufferers have Hashimoto’s.
If you’re taking medication prescribed by your doctor for hypothyroidism, it is important to be careful not to consume too much iron. If you take supplements, it may be preferable to choose a supplement without iron.
Recommendations For Hypothyroidism
Watch your diet. Too little or too much iodine intake could cause hypothyroidism. You also want to be careful of how much iron you consume while on certain medications. If you take supplements, choose a supplement without iron. Your daily diet should give you enough iron combined with your medication. You also want to avoid soybean flour, calcium supplements, and antacids that contain aluminum and magnesium. Your diet should consist only of non-GMO and organic foods. Meats would include free-range grass fed beef, chicken, etc. Stay away from caged chicken and eggs and grain fed meats where possible.
Nutrients to look for in a supplement would be:
- selenium – necessary for the production of the T3 thyroid hormone and can reduce autoimmune affects,
- vitamin D – regulates calcium and aids in T4 production,
- turmeric (curcumin),
- omega-3 fatty acids – essential for hormone balance and thyroid function,
- L-tyrosine – Thyroxin (T4) is naturally produced from the iodination of tyrosine,
- vitamin B complex – important for neurologic function and hormonal balance,
- vitamin A – aids in hormone synthesis and production of T3.
You may also be interested in the ashwaghanda herb, which helps the body respond to stress. Rhodiola, ginseng, and holy basil are other herbs with similar benefits to ashwaghanda.
The foods you should have in your diet include:
- wild caught fish – These provide omega-3 fatty acids EPA/DHA that are essential for hormone balance and thyroid function,
- coconut oil – Provides medium-chain fatty acids in the form of caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid that support a healthy metabolism, increase energy and fight fatigue,
- seaweed (such as kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame) – Some of the best natural sources of iodine, these help prevent deficiencies which disturb thyroid function,
- kefir and other probiotic rich foods – help create a healthy gut environment by balancing microflora bacteria, which reduces leaky gut syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and autoimmune reactions,
- sprouted seeds (such as flax, chia, and hemp) – provides ALA, a type of omega-3 fat that’s critical for proper hormonal balance and thyroid function,
- high fiber foods,
- non-GMO/Organic fruits and vegetables.
Avoid overly processed and GMO foods and processed sugars where possible. The vast majority of processed foods contain soy, which suppresses the thyroid.
You may also want to look into desiccated thyroid. Desiccated thyroid sold without a prescription are void of the thyroid hormones, which many argue the govt did for purposes of benefitting the synthetic hormone producers. But it will help kickstart your thyroid, and that’s what you want – your thyroid to function properly.
There is no proven cure for hypothyroidism, but embarking on a healthy diet and being sure to have plenty of the right nutrients can help regulate the thyroid and keep hypothyroidism under control and reduce chances of it becoming worse. As with many other diseases covered here, this is not proven curable due to the medications prescribed. Most thyroid medications are synthetic thyroid hormones that stop the thyroids ability to produce it’s own. Effectively making sufferers customers for life of the pharmaceutical industry. But consuming a non-GMO/Organic diet will help.
A few sources go as far as suggesting that sufferers who haven’t been on thyroid medication long or at all, can indeed cure their hypothyroidism through such a healthy diet and lifestyle. It must be understood, however, that your health is a lifestyle. Even if your hypothyroidism becomes reversed, you must continue eating healthy and supplementing your diet for maximum nutrition. You should also monitor your condition closely and get medical assistance immediately if you feel your condition is nearing that of myxedema. As much as I am against big pharma and the use of pharmaceuticals, it’s not worth your life to avoid what may be life saving help. Your T3 and T4 levels can be determined by a simple blood test.
Determine for yourself the route you feel comfortable with after reviewing your test results and consulting your doctor.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much hormone. It’s said that 1.2% of the United States population alone suffer with hyperthyroidism. Sufferers with diabetes may see heightened diabetic symptoms. You should get checked by your doctor to rule out hyperthyroidism if you’re heat senstivive, hyperactive, and have a seemingly impossible to quench appetite. Simple tests, including blood work, can determine if you have an over-active thyroid.
The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is Grave’s disease. Grave’s disease causes the body to create an antibody called ‘thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin’ which causes the thyroid to produce too much hormone. Other causes are different types of goiter and thyroiditis. Thyroiditis is caused by an attack on the immune system. Too much consumption of iodine could also cause hyperthyroidism.
Grave’s disease can be reversed if treated. However, if left untreated it could create a serious problem known as thyroid storm (also called thyrotoxic crisis). Thyroid storm is severe form of hyperthyroidism where symptoms worsen due to flooding of the thyroid hormones in the body. This could be caused by radioactive iodine therapy or too much thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid storm could lead to coma or death if not treated.
Sufferers of Grave’s disease are also at a higher risk of developing thyroid cancer. As with Hashimoto’s, you can develop Grave’s if you suffer from another autoimmune disease, are genetically predisposed, and/or have a poor diet.
Many treatments, including surgery that removes the thyroid and radioactive iodine therapy, could cause hypothyroidism as a direct response. Hashimoto’s disease, the leading cause of hypothyroidism, could also be caused by such treatments for hyperthyroidism and Grave’s disease.
Hyperthyroidism could also lead to osteoporosis due to bones becoming weak and thin.
Recommendations For Hyperthyroidism
Concentrate on a strict non-GMO/Organic diet. As with hypothyroidism, overly processed foods and GMO foods could cause hyperthyroidism. GMO and overly processed foods could contain toxins, pesticides, insecticides, hormones, and other toxins that could adversely affect the thyroid. You want to be sure to have the following in your diet:
- Greens – such as kale, spinach, spirulina, which could help provide needed nutrients,
- Anti-inflammatory herbs such as rosemary, basil, and oregano,
- Ginger – which has anti-inflammatory properties, as well support for the immune system,
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Nutrients to look for in a supplement would include:
- L-carnitine – could help reduce thyroid symptoms,
- B complex –
- Vitamin D
Avoid overly processed and GMO foods as much as possible. Particularly GM ingredients such as preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and other chemical ingredients. You also want to avoid added sugars, artificial flavorings and dyes. Limit foods that contain iodine.
Hypo- and hyperthyroidism are conditions of the thyroid that could lead into other issues, and could potentially be life threatening. While most will suggest there is no preventitive measures or cures, I do believe in the healing power of pure nutrition and the body.
As a few others believe, I too believe that many potential natural cures are covered up for the sole purpose of making sufferers lifelong customers of Big Pharma.
That being said, there is no magic cure. Even eating a strictly non-GMO/Organic diet, and using non-GMO/Organic sourced supplements, it could take years for your body to become healthy enough and reverse your condition. If you suffer from fatigue, frequent mood swings, depression or anxiety, or fluctuating weight, you want to get tested for a thyroid disorder.
The best thing you could do for your thyroid, and body as a whole, is to eat a non-GMO and organic diet and supplement your diet with non-GMO and organic sourced vitamins and minerals. As your gut is balanced out and your immune system is repaired, your body will begin to be able to function more normally and correct itself. You also want to remove as much stress out of your life as possible. Stress has adverse effects on the immune system which could put many parts of the body out of normal function.
Some will suggest rediculous diets or pills to control your appetite or weight. These diets do not work and can actually cause more serious problems down the road. Focusing on a healthy diet of non-GMO and organic foods, and watching intake of certain things, such as iodine, will have more benefit to the body and help manage your weight and condition long-term in a much healthier way. Eating healthy food and avoiding overly processed and GM foods, and supplementing your diet, will naturally help control your appetite and weight.
A long with a healthy, non-GMO and organic diet, you also want to exercise. You don’t need to crazy. A simple 10-30 minute exercise routine everyday will also help manage your weight, and help keep your muscles and bones strong.
If you are currently on medication, you should follow your doctors instruction and discuss the possibility of weaning off the medication as 1) you improve your diet and 2) your thyroid function shows signs of balancing out.
When seeing your doctor about thyroid issues, be sure to ask questions about all possible treatment options. You want to choose the best possible option, especially considering some treatments could make the condition worse or have you go from a state of hyper- to hypothyroidism; and leave you dependent on synthetic thyroid hormones and medications for the rest of your life.