Underactive Thyroid and Diet
More people today have thyroid imbalance, and often in the form of an underactive thyroid or auto immune thyroid, as in thyroiditis or hashimotos. Symptoms of low thyroid or AI thyroid include increased pain, tendon or joint pain, brain fog, food intolerances, bloating, temperature intolerance, inability to get regenerative sleep and more.
The problem is that not everyone is reaching optimal thyroid health because the treating doctor is merely prescribing a thyroid hormone, whether it is synthetic or natural hormone, and this is still not getting to the ROOT of the thyroid issue. Getting to the root would be asking WHY the thyroid hormone levels are low in the body, and then addressing the cause.
As a colon therapist, practitioner and working in holistic nutrition for many years, I believe we need to address two common causes: The liver and the small intestine. The liver is responsible for neutralizing toxins and metabolizing hormones. Yes, we need a healthy liver to neutralize toxins that will otherwise put an extra burden on the thyroid and adrenals.
And, the small intestine is responsible for assimilation of precious nutrients. The VERY nutrients we need for a healthy functioning thyroid. Yet, you can be taking the very best quality supplements and not be absorbing them if the small intestine is congested from years of improper diet.
Antioxidants are very important when living with any auto immune condition. On the main supplement page, we offer suggestions like Glutathione that will support the immune system in conditions like auto immune thyroid. Because remember, we cannot treat the thyroid and adrenals, without treating the immune system, which you can read more about here, or refer to link at bottom of this article.
What about Hormones For Underactive Thyroid?
In some cases, there is need for hormones, but not in all cases. The bigger issue concerns the conversion of T4/T3. According to Nora Gedgaudas, author of “Primal Body, Primal Mind” having an under active thyroid is not merely “fixed” by taking thyroid hormones, natural or otherwise.
Again, the question is why and working to achieve an optimal balance. If thyroid hormones are low due to ongoing stress and adrenal disease, then that is not a good thing and we have to address the adrenal/pituitary/hypothalamus issue.
If we have a slightly underactive thyroid, but are living a healthy lifestyle that supports thyroid naturally and are eating a diet that eliminates most grains and sugars and foods containing gmo’s (genetically modified organisms) Our bodies can then function at more optimal levels naturally.
If thyroid medications have not worked well for you, ask your doctor about compounding T3, slow release into the system. This is more feasible for anyone with adrenal conditions.
It is important to remember that thyroid hormones alone are not the answer and synthetic thyroid like Synthroid should not be used. Even Armour or Naturethroid can contain additives. Overuse of these hormones can cause the body to fluctuate from low to high and lead to thyroid and adrenal burnout.
Allowing the body to attain a mode of ‘ketosis’ (lower carbohydrate diet) will naturally accelerate metabolism, fat burning and support auto immune illness through taking extra burden from the immune system. And again, with proper conversion through adequate absorption and reduction of toxins in the delicate endocrine system, medication may be able to be reduced or eliminated.
In the case of auto immune thyroid conditions, it is important to check blood levels and work with a doctor who has treated Hashimotos or AI thyroid because the body could be resistant to even the most natural thyroid hormone, especially in the case of ongoing adrenal stress. In that case, a thyroid glandular and essential nutrients can be considered as a core of thyroid support.
There could also be an underlying “histamine” overload in the body and this can contribute to both auto immune thyroid conditions and fibromyalgia symptoms. You can have your histamine levels checked.
If you are high in histamine (you have intolerance to fermented foods, alcohol, citrus, egg whites, nitrates, yogurt, cheese, kefir, kombucha) then you may also consider an elimination diet and taking a DAO enzyme supplement.
Thyroid glandular is an alternative to hormones and can be purchased through health food stores OR online and essential thyroid nutrients include the B-complex family, selenium, zinc, and adaptogens (especially Ashwagandha) for reducing stress on the adrenals and thyroid.
f you are looking for a combination, additive free thyroid supplement, this is an excellent choice. I always recommend starting with half of the recommended dose. This thyroid complex contains thyroid supporting nutrients like ashwagandha, tyrosine, selenium, zinc, and more.
Bladderwrack is the only safe low dose iodine supplement that we recommend. Liquid iodine should not be used unless working closely with a doctor or practitioner. Always be sure to be taking adequate amounts of selenium and zinc.
Vitamin C is essential for the immune system as well, however taking high doses can work against the thyroid, so be sure to consult with a doctor on dosages and consider staying below 5 grams daily unless warranted.
Best Diet For Underactive Thyroid
While referencing the best diet for fibromyalgia throughout these pages, we are also talking about the best diet for the endocrine system, which of course, means the best diet for an underactive thyroid.
This is the type of diet that I have been teaching and advocating for almost 20 years now. It works by eliminating the causes and allowing the body to function as intended.
Keys to the right approach are whole foods, avoiding gmo’s (genetically modified organisms) in food and supplements, ingesting more cultured foods, avoidance of food allergens, and elimination of eating habits and/or patterns that are sabotaging the best of efforts and affecting our well-being and greater levels of healing. If we are putting in the effort, we surely want to get better results.
Finally, be sure to eliminate thyroid ‘offenders’ as in gluten, dairy protein, and soy. Fermented soy is generally ok as in miso, and dairy fat is also fine in small quantity such as raw cream and clarified butter.
Clarified butter is good for leaky gut issues which in turn supports thyroid through better assimilation of nutrients.
If you are concerned about the cabbage family, you can cook them or ferment them and make your own cultured vegetables to support nutrient uptake. However, fermented foods like kimchi and Kombucha may not be right for you if you have high histamine levels. And, with IBS or any digestive condition, or if bloating occurs after eating cabbage, then limit them and eat more cooked than raw.
The goitrogen issue with cruciferous vegetables will generally affect those with auto immune thyroid but not everyone with low thyroid. The sulfur, chlorophyll and other nutrients in things like kale and cabbage are needed for a healthy endocrine system.
However, avoid too much intake of cooked spinach or kale, as this can create higher levels of oxalic acids. Refer to our Best Diet page on the navigation bar and Recipes article page.
Be aware of Endocrine Disruptors
One of the most common endocrine disruptors is tap water. Be sure to avoid drinking tap water as it contains flouride waste, chlorine and other toxins that disrupt the balance of our endocrine system. Using a shower filter is also advisable as our skin absorbs the toxins in bath and shower water.
Use your vowels to reduce stress
Aside from other forms of stress relief like meditation and breathing techniques, we sometimes find it more effective to use toning first. Why? Because it can more effectively reduce those adrenaline surges that make it difficult to even engage in deep breathing or meditation.
Use your vowels through toning. Start with the letter “A”
Say the letter “a” and then hold it so you are creating a tone with it.
Then move on to the letter “E”
You can certainly use all of the 5 vowels, as in A-E-I-O-U.
I do find that that the letters A-E and O work best, so I mostly focus on those three when toning. Try to hold each letter for about 10 seconds before going on to the next. Practice this for about 5 minutes per session to reduce stress and increase endorphins.
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