Before I leapt into the world of functional medicine I was always struck with fear and confusion when I heard big terms like thyroid dysfunction or thyroiditis.
In fact, I really didn’t even know what roles the thyroid played in the body but it sounded important so every time I got my labs back with the stamp “normal” on them I exhaled an audible sigh of relief.
So, instead of asking you to get a graduate degree in nutrition to understand what I now know and adore about the thyroid I’m here to break it down for you. Plain and simple.
WHAT IS THE THYROID GLAND?
The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands. As a beautiful butterfly-shaped gland found in your neck, it powerfully regulates your metabolism, weight, temperature, brain function and heart rate [to name just a few of its roles] via a delicate balance of thyroid hormones [TSH, T4, T3, and rT3].
Additionally, every single tissue in the body has a thyroid hormone receptor, further magnifying the fact that if the thyroid is struggling, symptoms of imbalance abound.
Compelling research indicates that about 20 million Americans suffer from suboptimal thyroid function [13 million of whom are undiagnosed] begging the question: “what is negatively impacting our thyroid?” And even more importantly: “how do we proactively give our thyroid the therapy it clearly craves?’
SIGNS OF THYROID DYSFUNCTION
Labs are an incredible indicator of thyroid dysfunction; however, oftentimes only the lab TSH is drawn which does not tell the full story. Ideally T4 + T3 + rT3 are drawn to showcase how TSH is being converted into the active end-product T3. If labs aren’t plausible, listen to your body. Are you starting to notice any of the following symptoms?
- You feel fatigued after sleeping 8-10 hours at night or absolutely NEED to take a nap daily.
- You’re seeing stubborn weight gain or the inability to lose weight [despite your BEST efforts and intentions].
- Your mood swings like a pendulum and errs on the side of anxiety + depression.
- You’re in the trenches of hormone imbalances such as PMS, irregular periods, infertility or an absentee sex drive.
- You’ve been soothing chronic muscle pain, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis- to no avail.
- No matter what, those cold hands and feet of yours won’t quit [and no, it’s not Raynaud’s].
- Lotions, potions and spa treatments don’t seem to do much for your dry + cracking skin, brittle nails and excessive hair loss.
- You’re stuck in a rut of apathy, depression, or deep brain fog resulting in poor concentration or poor memory.
- You’re experiencing neck swelling, snoring or hoarse voice.
- Constipation. [Enough said].
If you checked quite a few of those questions off as “yes! That’s me!’ don’t you dare fall prey to fear or apathy. Instead, consider this an opportunity to evaluate the most powerful antidotes to thyroid stagnation.
THYROID TLC 1 – 2 – 3
Whether your thyroid function is inhibited by stress, inflammation or auto-immunity there are some very powerful ways to reinvigorate it to do its job properly and also for its message to be received properly.
Here is a step-by-step roadmap that I’ve built for you to give your thyroid a bit of TLC:
- Remove the triggers:
- Take a closer look at your water purity. Fluoride, bromide, mercury and other offenders lurk in water, blocking thyroid hormone from being produced. One easy solution entails filtering tap water at home. One of my favorite water filtration systems is the Berkey water filter. I have no affiliations but merely admire the quality of their product at a reasonable price point.
- Consider decreasing or eliminating soy altogether as research continues to reiterate its negative impact on the thyroid gland. It’s also harder than ever to find soy that is high quality and unprocessed in the states.
- Decrease intake of processed grain [and sugar] swapping it for root vegetables, fruit and squash [their complex carbohydrate counterparts]. By removing processed grains and sugars you not only decrease intake of anti-nutrients you also manage inflammation by keeping blood sugar more stable.
- Optimize gut bacteria
- Always keep cultured food in the refrigerator and use liberally. Cultured foods include kefir, yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut.
- Feed your gut bacteria with different types of fiber consistently throughout the day. Strive for 5+ “fists” of colorful vegetables.
- Manage stress with daily self-care and intentional activity
- Sleep is your number one priority with thyroid dysfunction. The only way the thyroid can heal itself is if it’s given the chance to rest.
- Managing stress to decrease the thyroid’s “flight or fight” response is also key. Gentle yin yoga, combined with time in complete “airplane mode” will remind the body that you are not in any danger.
- Exercising with your heart rate between 120-140 will also be very impactful since high cortisol levels [induced by activity with HR above 140] can suppress thyroid function. Consider pilates, barre and other forms of strength training while healing the thyroid gland.
- Replace missing nutrients for thyroid efficiency. Click HERE to indulge in the top 5 foods for thyroid health. They are bursting at the seams with the trace minerals your thyroid desperately needs to thrive.
TEST > REBALANCE > RE-TEST
I know you’re fully convinced how important thyroid function is. No… not normal thyroid function. OPTIMAL thyroid function. So get your levels checked. And get them checked often! And follow the simple steps outlined above to nourish and revive your thyroid. You are a powerful force of vibrance and energy. Don’t let a sluggish thyroid gland indicate otherwise.
To your [thyroid induced] vibrance,