The thyroid gland IS the body’s metronome. Symptoms like chronic fatigue + stubborn weight gain + dry skin hair and nails are but a few of the telltale signs that the “metronome” is not getting the information it needs to thrive. But don’t be discouraged [or tempted to let age be a scapegoat]. The thyroid gland can be healed and recalibrated with consistent intake of targeted nutrients paired with daily doses of intentional stress reduction.
Follow along as I lead you through exactly what you need to know about your thyroid gland, what dysfunction looks like and how to lean into some thyroid TLC.
The thyroid is one of the largest endocrine glands. 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. Click HERE for a chart of which labs I recommend and my interpretations. If labs aren’t plausible, listen to your body. Are you starting to notice any of the following symptoms?
1. You feel fatigued after sleeping 8-10 hours at night or absolutely need to take a nap daily.
2. You’re seeing stubborn weight gain or the inability to lose weight [despite your best efforts and intentions].
3. Your mood swings like a pendulum and errs on the side of anxiety + depression.
4. You’re in the trenches of hormone imbalances such as PMS, irregular periods, infertility or an absentee sex drive.
5. You’ve been soothing chronic muscle pain, joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome or tendonitis- to no avail.
6. No matter what, those cold hands and feet of yours won’t quit.
7. Lotions, potions and spa treatments don’t seem to do much for your dry + cracking skin, brittle nails and excessive hair loss.
8. You’re stuck in a rut of apathy, depression, or deep brain fog resulting in poor concentration or poor memory.
9. You’re experiencing neck swelling, snoring or hoarse voice.
10. Constipation. [Enough said].
The more vigilant you are in assessing your own symptoms and bringing a complete picture to your physician, the easier it will be for you to find the treatment you both crave and deserve!
TOP 5 THYROID DISRUPTORS:
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 disruptors and then courageously address them at the root. And the line up of thyroid triggers includes:
1. STRESS: trauma, chronic cardio, and food restriction [particularly carbs and fat concurrently]
2. INFLAMMATION: via chronic injury, infection or stress, anti-nutrients [i.e soy, processed grains]
3. RADIATION: via dentistry or chemo
4. TOXICITY: mercury, cadmium, lead, chlorine, flouride, bromine, and pesticides
5. AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE: Graves + Hashimotos
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS:
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. It all begins with food.
Below are 5 very targeted foods boasting micronutrients including iodine, selenium, magsesium, and B12; all critical for thyroid function [specifically the conversion from T4 into active T3].
1. Sea Vegetables – turns out kelp is the new kale [at lest to the thyroid!] All sea vegetables boast iodine, a powerful nutrient for optimal thyroid production alongside trace minerals required to convert TSH into active T3. Sea vegetables are the multi-vitamin of the ocean and a little bit goes a long way. If sensitive to iodine, consider simply sprinkling chlorella or spirulina in a smoothie to give your thyroid a little multi-mineral power boost while supporting pathways of drainage and detox through gentle binding action.
- One easy way to enjoy sea vegetables in whole food form is to snack on roasted seaweed, season food with a blend of sea vegetables or soak sea vegetables [like kombu] in water and legumes overnight [making the legume even more digestible].
2. Unrefined Sea Salt– salt provides flavor and function. However, an important distinction is the difference between unrefined salt such as Himalayan salt and processed, bleached table salt. Unrefined sea salt contains minerals which are important in supporting the thyroid gland and the conversions the various thyroid hormones to be efficient and effective.
- Swap in high quality sea salt using medicinal pinches here and there to amplify flavor of food. Be sure to pair all intentional salt intake with filtered water to support kidney function.
3. Brazil nuts – an important nutrient in the conversion from inactive to active thyroid hormone T3 is selenium. It turns out brazil nuts boast a bundle of selenium. And good news! Only 1-2 nuts a day is sufficient. Not a fan of the brazil nut? No problem. Other sources of selenium include wild salmon, mushrooms, and egg yolks.
- Consider adding brazil nuts to your smoothies, granolas and/or savory roasted nut mixes. I personally just keep them in my freezer and pop 2 a day. Yum!
4. Eggs– speaking of egg yolks, eggs live up to their title of the “perfect food,” especially when it comes to balancing hormones through diet. They provide a concentrated source of thyroid-supporting building blocks like protein, cholesterol, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and minerals.
Contrary to the belief of mainstream [or, as I say, misled] nutrition, the yolks – not whites – are the most nutritious part of the egg. Take a quick look at the nutritional highlights of eggs:
- Iodine – iodine is critical for proper thyroid health and only 2-3 eggs fulfills 20-30% of your daily iodine requirement.
- Selenium – just like brazil nuts, both the egg yolk and the white provide an excellent source of selenium, optimizing the conversion from T4 to useable T3 hormone.
- Fat-soluble vitamins – the egg yolk contains all of the fat-soluble vitamins in the egg- A, D, E, and K- all of which support thyroid.
- B Vitamins – B vitamins support blood sugar balance and energy levels taking stress off the thyroid gland. Egg yolks are particularly high in choline which is particularly supportive to the thyroid gland as well.
Consider adding eggs to your weekly meal plan in a rhythmic way noting that you don’t have to eat them everyday to get what you need.
5. Cod Liver Oil – a historically sacred food, cod liver oil offers the unique balance of vitamin A and vitamin D, both in highly bio-available forms. Everyone from babies to pregnant mothers and the elderly can benefit by taking a top quality cod liver product daily to decrease inflammation and provide TLC to the hard working thyroid gland via critical hormone balancing fat soluble vitamins.
- Easy ways to consume cod liver oil include blending it into smoothies or adding lemon flavored cod liver oil into salad vinaigrettes.
TEST > REBALANCE > RE-TEST
While it’s important to tune in and feel thyroid function, testing is also just as important. Sub-clinical issues become more substantial quickly when not caught early on. It’s equally important to view labs through the lens of optimal [not normal]. Click HERE to see the labs that are most indicative of optimal thyroid function and seek a functional medical practitioner to re-balance what is found to be suboptimal. You’re a powerful force of vibrance and energy. Don’t let a sluggish thyroid gland indicate otherwise.
Take a deep breath of sweet empowerment. Your thyroid gland, while powerful, is quite relatable and is most receptive to the nutrients in food. Consistency is its love language. As you intentionally weave thyroid supportive foods into your weekly regimen you’ll notice your labs optimize themselves, but more importantly, you’ll feel like you’re coming back to life.