Welcome to the fourth and final post in our series on thyroid health. In my previous posts, I explained the various functions of the thyroid, what tests are best for identifying a thyroid imbalance, and root causes of thyroid disorders. Now that you know the ins and outs of thyroid disorders, it time to talk treatment!
Step 1: Detoxify the Body
When treating thyroid disorders, like hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, it’s important to detoxify the body and remove any environmental toxins that may be inhibiting proper thyroid functioning.
As part of the detoxification process, I recommend eliminating the following foods from your diet:
Research shows a strong link between autoimmune thyroid disorders Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease and gluten intolerance. (1, 2) Gluten also contains a class of proteins called gliadins. The molecular structure of gliadins closely resembles that of the thyroid gland, so when the gliadins breach the protective barrier of the gut and enter the bloodstream, the immune system tags it for destruction. Due to their similar structure, however, the immune system often attacks thyroid tissue in the process.
Soybeans are often promoted as a health food, but modern processed soy contains many naturally occurring toxins, like phytoestrogens and isoflavones, that can adversely affect thyroid functioning.
Refined Sugar and artificial sweeteners
Sugar feeds the “bad” bacteria in your gut, often at the expense of the “good” or beneficial bacteria. An overgrowth of bad bacteria can lead to leaky gut (3), which can inhibit the release of the 20 percent of active thyroid hormone, T3, that your gut is responsible for producing.
Processed and packaged foods
Processed and packaged foods typically contain large amounts of sugar, are void of nutrients, and contain genetically modified oils and other ingredients. All of these things contribute to internal inflammation, which can lead to the suppression of the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA) and adversely affect thyroid hormone production and immune system function.
Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils
These oils – safflower, sunflower, soybean, and canola – can block thyroid hormone secretion, especially if they are consumed in their refined state. They are used almost exclusively in restaurants and processed foods. Be sure to read labels and limit your exposure when possible.
Step Two: Eliminate Environmental Toxins
In addition to limiting toxins in your diet, there are also environmental toxins that you’ll want to avoid, namely halogens and plastics.
Halogens are molecules in the environment that compete for iodine, a mineral that is essential for thyroid function. Here are the ones you’ll want to avoid:
This is commonly found in municipal or tap water, pesticides, and household cleaners. You can limit your exposure by using natural cleaning supplies, purchasing organic, pesticide-free foods when possible, and utilizing a water filtration system that is capable of filtering chlorine, salts, and fluoride.
In addition to being in numerous toothpaste’s, fluoride is also added to municipal water supplies. Purchasing an appropriate water filtration system will help limit your exposure as well as using a fluoride free toothpaste.
Bromide is found in many pesticides and almost all commercial baked goods and flours (and flour-containing foods). Use unbleached and unbromated flours, when possible.
Plastics also contain chemicals that inhibit healthy thyroid function, BPA specifically. You can limit your exposure to these toxic chemicals by choosing reusable glass or stainless steel water bottles, consuming hormone-free grass-fed meat, using paraben and phthalate free skin care products, and choosing chlorine-free cleaning products.
Step Three: Medication and/or Supplementation
While eliminating toxins is an essential step in healing the thyroid, many of my patients also need to utilize supplements and/or prescription medication to fully restore healthy thyroid functioning. Medication can only be prescribed by a licensed doctor, naturopath, or healthcare professional that has been trained to read blood work and is legally able to do so.
The medication that I recommend most often in my practice is Nature-Throid, a naturally compounded form of desiccated thyroid that contains both T3 and T4. The dosage varies and is based on the results of lab work.
As for supplementation, I recommend Thyroid Support. It contains a combination of vitamins and minerals (selenium, zinc, iron, and iodine) as well as herbs that help to nourish and activate the thyroid. Many of my patients that prefer not to take a prescription medication have been able to use Thyroid Support with great success.
If you suspect that you have a thyroid condition be sure to consult with your health practitioner for proper treatment. It is important to have your hormones, vitamin, and mineral levels checked before taking medication or supplements.
Things you can do at home to support thyroid functioning
There are two things you can do at home to support the health of your thyroid:
Nourish your thyroid with the following health supportive foods:
Sea Vegetables or Seaweed
Sea veggies and seaweed (such as kelp, dulse, and wakame) contain high concentrations of calcium, iron, iodine, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, magnesium, copper, chromium, vitamin A, and B vitamins which are essential nutrients for thyroid health.
Look for those that are pink in color and choose wild caught varieties – these are good sources of iodine and healthy fats. Shrimp, lobster, salmon, halibut, sardines, and crab meat are all great options.
Nuts and Seeds
The thyroid absorbs iodine and combines it with tyrosine (an amino acid) to produce thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Natural sources of tyrosine include meat, fish, oats, almonds, lima beans, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and fermented foods. Brazil nuts are also a great addition as they contain high amounts of selenium, necessary for T4 to T3 conversion.
Foods Containing Zinc and Iron
Grass-fed meats, seafood, pumpkin seeds and chickpeas are wonderful sources of zinc; oysters are the most potent food source overall. Iron can be found in the following foods: spinach, grass-fed beef, quinoa, lentils and black beans.
Manage your stress
Stress is a major contributor of thyroid disorders as it lowers the conversion rate of biologically active thyroid hormones, free T4 to free T3 and causes your adrenal glands to become fatigued. If your adrenals are tired and burnt out, your thyroid will not be able to function properly, so it’s important to implement routines and practices that support restful sleep and decreased stress levels.
For additional support, you can also consume foods that are high in vitamin c, like papaya, strawberries, mangos, bell peppers. All of these measures will help support the health of your adrenal glands, which is essential for maintaining the health of your thyroid.
Thanks so much for following along in this 4-part series! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and gained the knowledge you need to care for and support the health of your thyroid.