Natural Remedies for the Thyroid - functionalfueling.com

Natural Remedies for the Thyroid

Do you feel like something is off but can’t pinpoint the root cause of your weight gain, brain fog, or hair loss? Blame it on stress or lack of sleep? Have you gone to the doctor or even multiple doctors and they say that your thyroid lab numbers look normal and send you on your way?

Well, you are not alone! One out of three patients is unaware that they are hypothyroid. It is three to seven times more common in women ages 20-50.

Let’s first discuss how the thyroid works. 

The pituitary gland is a small region within the brain. It produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This is the common test that is run by your doctor when you complain of thyroid related symptoms. However, TSH is not an indicator of free thyroid hormone levels. TSH tells the thyroid to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). TSH increases when the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low.  T4 is the inactive form that can be converted to the active form of T3 to be used by the body. 

An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) indicates that there is low production of T4 and T3. While an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) leads to too much of the thyroid hormones, T4 and T3.

How does lifestyle impact this?

Your nervous system communicates with your endocrine system to tell your body the state of the environment (i.e. stressed, safe, calm, etc.). Think of your nervous system as having two modes, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) modes. When there is an imbalance in the time spent in these modes, this can lead to impairments in our endocrine system such as within our thyroid. 

Think of your body as a cup of stressors. These stressors are all factors that impact the nervous system. They include toxins, sleep, psychological, pathogens (gut health), exercise, and nutrition.  For some patients, stressors may be coming from all of these sources and for others, just one or two. These different stressors can all be managed and treated using lifestyle and nutrition strategies. Here are some natural remedies that can support this process.

Natural Remedies for the Thyroid

Natural Remedies:

Macronutrients:

A reduction in calorie intake and carbohydrates and caloric intake can lead to a decrease in active thyroid hormones (T3) by about 50%. Therefore, it is important to get enough fat, protein, and carbohydrates in each meal.

To best understand your macronutrient needs, you should consult the advice of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. 

Nutrients:

  • Iodine: A trace mineral essential for thyroid hormone creation. Too much iodine can exacerbate symptoms leading to hyperthyroidism and too little can lead to hypothyroidism.
    • Food sources: seafood, seaweed, dairy
      • Cruciferous vegetables can decrease absorption so it is best to consume them in different meals
  • Tyrosine: An essential amino acid (protein) needed to create thyroid hormones in the thyroid gland. Tyrosine attaches to iodine to create T4 and T3.
    • Food sources: meat, fish, tofu, squash, pumpkin seeds
  • Selenium: An antioxidant that also plays a small role in the conversion of T4 to T3. Additionally, it helps protect the thyroid gland from an autoimmune attack and free radical damage. A deficiency in selenium decreases the making of thyroid hormone and thyroid antibodies. 
    • Food sources: brazil nuts, fish, meat, eggs
  • Magnesium: A mineral that many are deficient in. Magnesium assists in iodine utilization. Those that are highly stressed or exercise often may need more. Magnesium attaches to ATP to generate energy. 
    • Food sources: dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, dark chocolate
  • Zinc: Helps the body utilize thyroid hormone by transforming inactive T4 into active T3. 
    • Food sources: beef, oysters, beans, chickpeas, nuts
  • Iron: This mineral helps create thyroid hormone. Low circulating T3 is associated with low levels of iron. Iron deficiency is common in individuals with hypothyroidism because of weak absorption in the gastrointestinal tract. 
    • Food sources: red meat, shellfish, poultry, legumes, leafy greens
      • Note: animal sources are superior in their absorption. Plant sources should be paired with vitamin C to help increase their absorption in the body. 

These nutrient recommendations can be met with a well-balanced diet. Examples of complete food sources to meet these needs include raw nuts and seeds, shellfish and seafood, beef or beef liver, and dark leafy greens. 

Water and Environmental Toxins:

There are different environmental toxins that affect the endocrine system and more specifically the thyroid by mirroring your hormone structure and invading the thyroid gland. These include heavy metals, household toxins, industrial chemicals, and agricultural agents.

Fluoride, chloride, and bromide exposure can inhibit iodine transport and block T4 to T3 conversion. Perchlorates are reactive chemicals used in explosives, fireworks, and rocket motors, and can be found in well water. Because of their presence in water, it can contaminate drinking water and agricultural products like beef, berries, lettuce, milk, etc. This makes consuming organic and hormone-free foods very important. 

Here are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins:

  • Use all-natural toiletries and beauty products
  • Limit plastic use and opt for BPA-free drinking and food containers
  • Consume a variety of organic foods
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers in the yard and garden

Stress optimization:

  • Sleep: Allows the neuroendocrine system to relax, reset, and better regulate hormones.
    • Goal: 7-9 hours 
    • Ways to improve sleep: avoid watching television or using a screen 1-2 hours before bed, sleep in a dark and cool room, and create a bedtime routine
  • Relaxation
    • Massage
    • Listening to music
    • Meditation
    • Laughter
    • Reading
  • Exercise: Exercise is great for improving heart function, helping with weight regulation, and supporting lean body mass. However, if not balanced appropriately, it can also cause an increase in the fight or flight nervous system which can impair thyroid hormone levels. It’s important that when experiencing a hormonal condition, there is a proper balance of exercise to resting stress hormones. 

We teach you exactly how to support your thyroid through diet and exercise inside of our group membership, Strength in Hormones. Learn more and get started today here!

 

Additional Resources on Thyroid Health:

written by: Kadeshia Clark

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