Do You Think You Have a Thyroid Problem?
You know something is wrong, but you’re not sure what to call the problem. Your whole body feels off, but your doctor assures you you’re fine. You’ve gained weight, lost hair, you’re moody and exhausted, but your lab results come back “within normal range." I see this all too often in my practice at FLO living.
Sound frustratingly familiar?
You may be among the 20 percent of women suffering from a thyroid disorder — one of the most under-diagnosed hormonal issues out there. If you’ve been dealing with anything from a problematic period to fertility issues to a low libido, your thyroid may be to blame, so it’s crucial you understand the basics about this important gland in order to recognize the signs of trouble and successfully take action.
All About the Thyroid ~
Your thyroid is the largest gland in your endocrine system and it’s located in the front of your neck. It’s responsible for controlling and regulating your internal body temperature, and it works in tandem with your adrenals to take care of a ton of vital bodily processes including:
- Your metabolism and weight
- Your mood
- Your sleep quality
- Your digestion
- Your body temperature
- Your sensitivity to other hormonal shifts throughout your cycle
What your period can tell you about your thyroid health ~
If your thyroid is sluggish and not humming away as it should, you’ll start to experience symptoms related to your cycle like:
- Multiple periods per month
- Heavy bleeds that are full of clots
- One or more miscarriages
- Anovulatory cycles (that means cycles in which you might bleed, but you don’t ovulate)
- Unexplained weight gain despite eating well and exercising regularly
- Constant exhaustion
- Cold or tingly feet and hands
- Puffy eyes
The nutrients that make the thyroid hormone are iodine and L-tyrosine. 60% of the iodine we have in our bodies is held in the thyroid gland. Tyrosine is an amino acid that you need in order to synthesize what your thyroid creates.
Getting the Right Tests ~
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to work with your doctor to test your thyroid with blood tests and an ultrasound before you start pursuing treatment since certain protocols — like increasing your iodine intake — are good for some thyroid problems, but not all. Specifically, Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune condition that causes your immune system to attack your thyroid, can actually get worse with an increased uptake of iodine. So work with your doctor to figure out the best move forward for your issues.
The tests you’ll want: TSH, T4, T3 and T3 uptake — this will give you the best understanding of where your thyroid function is breaking down.
You may need to be put on a hormone replacement, in which case a bioidentical option like Naturethroid is better than the synthetic Synthroid. Regardless of the need for medication, you will need to use food to support your thyroid health, so you don’t continue to experience symptoms of underactive thyroid and need more and more medication to get the same result. Food is your friend in all ways!
How to Support Your Thyroid Naturally ~
The best way to improve your thyroid hormone production is by adding certain foods to your diet that will support the thyroid and protect it from disruption. You can also choose to avoid certain substances that will have an adverse affect on your thyroid, and make sure you include some iodized sea salt in your cooking as well.
The 3 Best Ways to Improve Your Thyroid Function:
~ Add coconut oil: Most of the oils popularly used in cooking and baking have a negative impact on the thyroid (for example, vegetable polyunsaturated oils have been linked to many thyroid diseases). But coconut oil is a healthy alternative high in saturated fat, lauric acid, and medium-chain fatty acids. Swapping out the other oils you use currently with coconut oil and getting two tablespoons a day into your diet will make a difference to your thyroid function. See here to read more about the benefits of coconut oil for your hormones.
~ Start eating sea vegetables: Sea veggies are a great concentrated source of iodine. A little goes a long way, so picking nori, which has comparably low iodine is a good choice, as it will support your thyroid without risking disruption. Steaming, frying, or roasting nori are good options for preparation as they produce a moderate release of the helpful iodine content. It’s interesting to note that Japan has a very low rate of cancer and this can be partially attributed to their consumption of sea vegetables in the traditional diet.
~ Boost your vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with thyroid dysfunction because this vitamin is what’s called a "hormonal precursor". If you have fair skin, just 30 minutes of sunshine can help you get all the vitamin D you need, but if you have darker skin, you may need up to two hours of sunshine a day to get the right amount of D (in either case, make sure you get out of the sun before your skin has the chance to burn). If you’re not getting vitamin D exposure from sunshine, you’ll want to supplement with Vitamin D3 tablets.
The 3 Things You Need to Avoid to Keep Your Thyroid Healthy:
~ Fluoride and Chlorine: These chemicals are present in our drinking water and toothpaste, so it’s best to get a filter that will take them out for you and choose fluoride-free toothpaste. Studies have correlated the amount of fluoride in our drinking water to an increase in underactive thyroid issues. Too much fluoride and chlorine can actually cause iodine deficiency.
~ Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, bok choy, and cabbage contain goitrogens, substances that suppress thyroid function by disrupting and blocking the enzyme that allows the gland to use iodine to make the thyroid hormone. If you have an underactive thyroid, then eating raw cruciferous vegetables can suppress the thyroid function. These vegetables have many other nutritional benefits though, so you just need to limit your intake to two times a week and be sure to cook them before eating. Of course, if you have normal thyroid function, there’s no need to avoid these. Otherwise, you can substitute with celery, romaine lettuce, beet leaves, cucumber and chard.
~ Stress: Stress throws your cortisol levels off, which is turn impacts your adrenals and therefore your thyroid. Cortisol helps your thyroid work more efficiently and so producing just the right amount is very important for healthy thyroid function. If your cortisol levels are low because of stress-induced adrenal exhaustion, the thyroid cannot regulate your energy and metabolism. Chronic stress causes too high cortisol levels.
Always remember, that once you have the right information about how your hormones really work, you can start making health choices that finally start to work for you! You can do this, the science of your body is on your side!
Need hormone help?
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