Simple Things You Can Do Right Now to Heal your Thyroid Problems!
The thyroid gland is the master of metabolism. It’s a butterfly-shaped organ situated just above your collarbone. Run your hand down the front of your neck to just below the bulge. This is the site of your thyroid.
The thyroid releases hormones that govern bodily functions such as:
- bone metabolism
- heart rate
The thyroid releases three key hormones:
- T3 – regulates your body’s heart rate, temperature, and energy
- T4 – crucial for growth
- Calcitonin – involved in the metabolism of calcium and bone
Iodine is needed to produce T3 and T4. It’s a trace element the body is unable to manufacture. Iodine needs to be taken as food. For the body to use T4, it must first be converted to T3.
The thyroid can malfunction in two major ways. It can go into overdrive, resulting in elevated hormone levels. Conversely, it can come up short. Hormone overproduction is termed hyperthyroidism. Substandard function is called hypothyroidism.
HASHIMOTO’S DISEASE (HD)
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The medical term for this disorder is thyroiditis. It’s the most common type of hypothyroidism in the US. Though it can occur at any age, it is most prevalent in women between the ages of 30 and 50. HD is an autoimmune disorder. When the immune system malfunctions, it mistakenly attacks body cells. In the case of HD, thyroid tissue becomes inflamed and is slowly destroyed. This leads to low hormone levels. Signs of hypothyroidism are:
- pale, puffy face
- dry skin
- thinning hair
- hoarse voice
- difficulty swallowing
- muscle aches and stiffness
- acute sensitivity to cold
- unexplained weight gain
- high cholesterol
Blood tests measure hormone and cholesterol levels. They also identify abnormal antibodies, indicating misfiring of the immune system. Anterior neck swelling is another red flag. This is a sign of thyroid enlargement, termed goiter. If HD is diagnosed, your primary care physician may refer you to an endocrinologist, a doctor specializing in hormonal disorders.
Research suggests that HD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental triggers. Examples are:
- radiation exposure
- toxic pesticides and fertilizer
- bacterial and viral infections
The conventional treatment for HD is hormone replacement medication. However, it doesn’t resolve the underlying cause of the autoimmune disorder. For this reason, many people seek natural solutions to restore proper immune function. Natural treatment focuses on helping the liver do its job of detoxification. Following is a protocol used by holistic endocrinologists.
Diet plays an important role in cooling inflammation and balancing hormones. Dietary management includes specific foods to consume and avoid.
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- Protein – Aim for 20 grams of protein at each meal. Protein ferries T3 into cells and regulates thyroid function. Ideal sources include eggs, beans, nut butters, quinoa, salmon, and whey.
- Healthy Fats – Try to consume four tablespoons of healthy fats per day. Examples are avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and pumpkin seeds. Fatty acids are the building blocks of cell membranes. Your body also uses them to produce prostaglandins. These are compounds with hormone-like effects. They help reduce inflammation.
- Selenium – This mineral boosts T3 production. Excellent sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, pinto beans, and sunflower seeds.
- Vitamin B12 – Research shows that 30 percent of people with HD have a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Bolster your diet with B12 from eggs, dairy, and salmon.
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to HD. Vitamin D shuttles thyroid hormone into cells. It also normalizes erratic immune function. Dial up Vitamin D in the form of mushrooms, salmon, eggs, fortified dairy, and Swiss cheese.
- Glutathione – This is the “mother of all antioxidants.” It’s a powerful cell protector. Glutathione strengthens the immune system and heals thyroid tissue. It also helps the liver neutralize toxic chemicals. Foods that spur glutathione production include asparagus, garlic, onions, peaches, and whey.
What to Avoid
- Gluten – This protein is found in wheat, barley, bulgur, couscous, rye, and spelt. Gluten is similar in molecular structure to thyroid tissue. In HD, gluten is confusing to the immune system. It considers gluten a threat and goes after the thyroid instead.
- Coffee – Caffeine worsens HD symptoms. Those of us who love coffee found it challenging to give up our beloved joe. If this applies to you, knowing the following effects of caffeine may help you quit coffee. Caffeine increases blood sugar and the stress hormone cortisol. It inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3. Coffee is similar in protein structure to gluten. It percolates thyroid tissue.
- Sugar – Refined sugar and carbohydrates trigger inflammation. They hinder white blood cells from destroying bacteria, viruses, and foreign substances. The damage begins within 30 minutes of eating sugar and lasts for five hours! Sugar also causes spikes in the hormone insulin. Our bodies use insulin to move glucose into cells. Surges in blood sugar destroy the thyroid.
- Aspartame – This artificial sweetener is highly inflammatory. When aspartame is processed by the liver, formaldehyde is released. This toxic chemical impairs thyroid function and can lead to cancer.
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and kale release goitrin. This compound interferes with the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
- Soy – Soy lowers the concentration of T3.
- Iodized Salt – The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones. However, to get adequate iodine, you’d have to eat excessive salt. Iodized salt also contains the undesirable additives aluminum and dextrose. A better option is sea salt, which has trace minerals.
Exercise combats the effects of hypothyroidism in several ways. It elevates energy, promotes a healthy weight, and reduces stress. It fosters hormone balance and metabolic efficiency. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins. Three types of exercise deliver these benefits:
- strength training
Fun forms of exercise that confer these perks are:
The Mayo Clinic gives the following exercise guidelines:
- 3 hours per week of moderate cardio activity
- 2 sessions per week of strength training
Cortisol is released in response to stress. As mentioned above, this hormone suppresses the conversion of T4 to T3. Here are some suggestions for minimizing the effects of stress:
- obtain weekly massages
- employ time management strategies
- try to maintain a positive outlook
- avoid taking on more responsibility than you can manage
- be at peace with circumstances you can’t control
- eliminate coffee, sugar, alcohol, and processed foods
- get adequate sleep
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Protect your thyroid from radiation exposure by requesting a thyroid collar before getting x-rays. Also known as a thyroid guard, the shield enfolds your throat. It can be applied prior to dental imaging and mammograms.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TREATING HD
Neglecting to address HD is risky. Untreated hypothyroidism impairs mental function. It can lead to fluid accumulation around the lungs and heart. It can also cause an enlarged heart.
Not everyone is a candidate for natural treatment of HD. To maintain optimal endocrine function, thyroid hormone medication may be needed. Even so, the above lifestyle tweaks will minimize symptoms. A qualified endocrinologist will be able to discern the causes of your condition and design the ideal treatment plan.
SUFFER NO MORE
You can diminish the symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease. Use the following strategies:
- fine-tune your diet
- have fun exercising
- diffuse the stress balloon
- wear a thyroid guard during radiology exams
In just a short time, you’ll be looking and feeling great!