The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck, just below the Adam’s apple, it’s primary job is to regulate metabolism and the way the body uses energy. Hypothyroidism, also known as underactive thyroid, is a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough of a thyroid hormone called thyroxine. Low levels cause many of the body’s functions to slow down and common symptoms of hypothyroidism can include fatigue, low body temperature, forgetfulness, depression, constipation, weight gain and thinning hair. The risk of hypothyroidism increases with age, and women are seven times more likely than men to be diagnosed with it.
It’s estimated that over 90% of cases of hypothyroidism are a result of an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. It causes the immune system to attack thyroid tissue, causing inflammation and leading to a lowered ability to produce thyroid hormones. It’s important to see your doctor to get a medical diagnosis if you have any of the symptoms mentioned, or suspect hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone replacement therapy is usually the prescribed treatment.
However, as with many autoimmune, inflammatory conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it is important to try to get to the root cause of it. In some cases, a specific thyroid diet and lifestyle changes have been known to significantly improve symptoms or even reverse the condition. If you are on thyroid medication, you should advise your doctor of any nutritional changes or added supplements and take note of any fluctuations in thyroid hormone levels. Below are some of the best foods and supplements for natural thyroid treatment.
Seaweed is rich in iodine, an essential nutrient for healthy thyroid function, as the thyroid gland requires it to manufacture thyroid hormones. A deficiency of iodine is becoming an increasingly common problem and is implicated in many cases of hypothyroidism. There are several types of seaweed that are rich in iodine like nori, wakame, kelp and dulse. Good ways to use seaweed are in sushi, soups, salads and seaweed flakes make a great seasoning in place of salt. Seaweed is a real superfood that is also rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, E, and K. Be sure to consult your doctor to determine your body’s iodine levels if you are planning to take an iodine supplement because while dietary intake should be sufficient, excess intake may interfere with thyroid hormone levels.
Free Range Chicken
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 require iodine but are also dependent on tyrosine, which is an amino acid. Keeping high-quality proteins in the diet, such as free-range chicken, will supply the amino acid needs for thyroid hormones as well as other hormones.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as wild salmon, trout, tuna, or sardines have powerful anti-inflammatory actions. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition affecting the thyroid gland, causing inflammation, which results in low thyroid output. Omega-3s are not only known to decrease inflammation but also help regulate immunity and lower the risk for heart disease, often associated with poor thyroid function. Fish is also a great source of the mineral selenium, which supports healthy thyroid hormone metabolism and may also help to reduce Hashimoto’s antibodies, the main cause of hypothyroidism. Selenium also helps decrease inflammation. Great reasons to eat wild salmon at least 2-3 times a week.
There are certain nutritional factors that can support thyroid function. The first and possibly most important is iodine. Thyroid hormone T3 is triiodothyronine and T4 is thyroxine; T3 has three molecules of iodine and T4 has four molecules in its structure. Therefore, a diet deficient in iodine can inhibit thyroid hormone production. Iodine used to be abundant in the soil, however as soil quality dropped, more people became iodine deficient. However, we can get more iodine in our diets by eating foods richer in iodine such as spinach.
There are certain nutritional factors that can support thyroid function. The first and possibly most important is iodine. Thyroid hormone T3 is triiodothyronine and T4 is thyroxine; T3 has three molecules of iodine and T4 has four molecules in its structure. Therefore, a diet deficient in iodine can inhibit thyroid hormone production. Iodine used to be abundant in the soil, however as soil quality dropped, more people became iodine deficient. However, we can get more iodine in our diets by eating foods richer in iodine such as asparagus.
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 require iodine but are also dependent on tyrosine, which is an amino acid. Keeping high-quality proteins in the diet, such as organic grass-fed beef, will supply the amino acid needs for thyroid hormones as well as other hormones.
Avocados are great for those with hypothyroidism as they help the body to produce Glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and can help protect against Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Glutathione is the ‘master’ antioxidant in the body that can boost and regulate the immune system, inhibit autoimmune flare-ups, and protect and heal thyroid tissue. Avocados are also a rich source of healthy monounsaturated fats, needed for the production of hormones, including thyroid hormones.
Lemons love our liver! The liver is one of the hardest working organs in the body and performs many tasks including the conversion of thyroid hormones T4 into the active form, T3. If you have a sluggish liver, this conversion will not be efficient and can exacerbate or even cause symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you are on thyroid medication such as thyroxine, it too must be converted into the active form T3 in your body. So a healthy liver is vital for healthy thyroid function. The juice of half a lemon squeezed into a glass of warm water first thing every morning will help to purify and stimulate the liver, boost the immune system and in turn help relieve symptoms of hypothyroidism.
Selenium is vital to the thyroid in several ways. Selenium-based proteins help regulate thyroid hormone synthesis, converting T4 into the active form, T3. Selenium also supports healthy thyroid hormone metabolism and may help to reduce Hashimoto’s antibodies, the autoimmune disorder that is the primary cause of hypothyroidism. It’s best to boost selenium levels through food sources but in some cases supplementing may be necessary. Do not exceed 200 mcg per day.
Healthy serum levels of zinc are positively correlated with healthy levels of the active thyroid hormone, T3. Many thyroid practitioners see evidence of a decrease in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4, into the active T3, in patients with zinc deficiencies. Zinc has many other benefits as well, including immune health, so a high-quality zinc supplement can benefit thyroid and overall health. 15 mg of supplemental zinc per day is adequate along with food sources such as pumpkin seeds, seafood, beef and organ meats.
There are varying degrees of supplementation and support for the thyroid, ranging from providing the raw materials needed for the body to produce more thyroid hormone of it’s own, to actually giving prescription thyroid hormone replacement. One important nutrient to consider supplementing is Iodine. Iodine is actually a part of your thyroid hormones – three molecules in T3 and four molecules in T4. If you are low in iodine, you won’t be able to manufacture enough hormone, simply due to lack of raw materials. Sometimes supplementing with iodine alone is enough to help with hypothyroidism.
There are varying degrees of supplementation and support for the thyroid, ranging from providing the raw materials needed for the body to produce more thyroid hormone of it’s own, to actually giving prescription thyroid hormone replacement. One important nutrient to consider supplementing is tyrosine. Tyrosine is an amino acid that plays a few different roles in the body. It is needed for the production of certain neurotransmitters, and it is also an important nutrient for the thyroid. It tends to be energizing and boosts brain power! Iodine and tyrosine go nicely together for thyroid support.