Thyroid Imbalances are becoming more and more common among our population. Your thyroid is responsible for releasing hormones that control your metabolism, breathing, heart rate, nervous system, and body temperature, along with other body functions. If you are dealing with an over or under active thyroid, there are many natural remedies and nutritional changes you can make before jumping to medication. Before we discuss a few of these, let’s first talk about the different between hyper and hypo thyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid is enlarged and produces more than enough of certain hormones (T3 and T4) in the body. Some common conditions of this imbalance include:
- Sudden, explainable weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Increased heart rate
- Hair Loss
- Hand tremors
- Swollen Neck
- Mood swings
- Diarrhea or eliminating more than normal
- Light or skipped menstrual periods
Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism and occurs when the thyroid under-produces thyroid hormones, meaning your body isn’t getting enough of them. The most common symptoms for this condition include:
- Weight gain
- Dry Skin
- Unexplained fatigue
- Cold sensitivity
- Tight muscles or muscle pain
- Memory Fog
- Puffy Face and Eyes
- Brittle Nails
- Depression and uninterest in normal day activities
- Low libido
If your thyroid has been tested, or you suspect that you are struggling with one of the above two imbalances, here are a few habits that you can look at and see if they might be contributing to your thyroid problems.
- Stop eating SOY! You would be amazed at how easy it is to find soy in the foods you are eating. Soy is used as a binder in pretty much any packaged food such as easy meals, candy bars, chips, breads, crackers, chips, protein bars, and even a lot of proteins. More obviously it can be found in common asian dishes flavored with soy sauce. Soy contains goitrogens, which block the thyroid’s ability to synthesize hormones and metabolize iodine (which is it’s job!). Click here for more info on soy.
- Easy on the cruciferous veggies! These vegetables, such as cabbage, turnips, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, all contain glucosinolates that convert to goitrin in the human body and prevent normal hormone secretion of the thyroid. If you have hyperthyroid, you will want to consume MORE of these veggies, and if you are hypothyroid, you will want to consume less.
- Avoid stress. Research has shown that stress suppresses thyroid production, making it not function at its best and giving you an imbalance. Find ways to reduce stress in your life by taking a vacation, finding more r&r time, slowing down, learning to say no, or improving your sleep.
- Avoid processed sugars. Individuals who struggle with hypothyroidism, tend to crave sugars a lot more. Eat a well balanced diet with lots of healthy, nutrient-dense foods instead of turning to quick carbs that will make your weight gain worse. Foods to avoid would include packaged foods, sodas, candies and other sweets, cereals, etc.
- Exercise regularly. While your thyroid is slowing your metabolism down, exercising can help increase it. If you’re struggling with weight gain and feel your metabolism taking a hit, find a form of exercise you enjoy that you will stick with long enough to boost your metabolism.
- Switch your fats to coconut oil. Coconut oil has many incredible health benefits, one of which is thyroid function support. If you’re struggling with hypothyroidism, coconut oil can help give your thyroid a boost and get it back up to par. On the other hand, the most common oils used in cooking (vegetable and canola oil) can actually inhibit thyroid function and promote weight gain. Click here for more information!
- Take a fish oil supplement. The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil have been shown to increase thyroid function, along with promoting a healthy metabolism. So if you’re not taking one now, I would start adding it in to your diet. Look for fish oil sources that are wild-caught, not farm raised.
- Add in some useful spices. There are a handful of spices and herbs that have been proven to support thyroid and treat imbalances naturally. These include: primrose, ginger, flaxseed, echinacea, nettle, and bladderwrack. You can find these supplements at health food stores or order on amazon. Check with your doctor if you are pregnant before using these.
- Take a probiotic! Many thyroid problems stem from gastrointestinal imbalances that put stress on our hormones. Probiotics support your gut with healthy bacteria and may fight off autoimmune diseases.
As a nutritionist, I would recommend sticking to the following food/exercise regimens if you are working on healing your thyroid (source: Pn):
- Consume adequate iodine
- Don’t drastically restrict calories
- Consume adequate carbohydrates and fats
- Maintain a 5 hour per week exercise regimen
- If symptoms of hypothyroidism are suspected, request a TSH test from your physician
- Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Avoid synthetic chemicals found in conventional food items, body products and food containers when possible
I have also found working with many clients that thyroid imbalances are often emotionally caused. If you have trapped emotions being stored in your thyroid, it can cause disharmony among the cells and also create imbalances. Some of the most common emotions and feelings that I have found associated with thyroid problems are:
- lack of love for self
- fearing self-expression or feeling unheard
- lack of discernment, inability to voice your opinions or make a decision
- holding onto a deep sense of frustration and anxiety
- feeling invisible, hard to express or communicate your true feelings
Most of these emotions stem from childhood experiences.
Hopefully all of this info helps you create some new thought processes if you are wanting to heal your thyroid. Feel free to reach out to me if you are in need of a health coach, meal plan tailored to your thyroid, or are in need of an emotional therapy release session. Until then, stay healthy…!