Hypothyroidism is rampant, especially among women. Luckily, there are some simple steps you can take to boost thyroid function and improve thyroid balance! To take your thyroid therapy to the next level, seek treatment with a naturopathic doctor.
If you need some background on thyroid hormones and function, check on my blog on Decoding thyroid testing first.
1. Emphasize nutrition
Are you eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods that come from your kitchen and not a fast food restaurant? If not, remember that you need many nutrients to feel your best and your thyroid gland is no exception! Not all food is created equal and the most processed, sweetest, saltiest, fattiest foods are devoid of what you need to feel good. Iodine, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, and tyrosine are just a few of the nutrients key for thyroid health.
Here are just a few of the nutrients needed for healthy thyroid function: iodine, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin E, tyrosine. Want to know which foods to eat to get them? Check out the World’s Healthiest Foods.
2. Avoid the worst goitrogens
Have you heard of goitrogens? These are compounds found in some foods that can impair thyroid function. If you search online, you will easily find lots of long lists and you might get confused as to whether you should eat ANY foods that contains these… If you want more detailed info, check out this great article on goitrogens from the World’s Healthiest Foods.
My simple rule is to avoid high intake of soy and corn (you’d be surprised how pervasive and sneaky these are), avoid EXCESSIVE intake of other goitrogens, and to COOK goitrogenic foods to reduces their activity.
3. Eat less sugar
Besides the fact that sugar increases the risk of every chronic disease and makes human beings foggy, fat, and fatigued, high sugar intake leads to high insulin (and insulin resistance!).
Insulin triggers increased thyroid binding globulin, which is the protein that carries thyroid hormones around in your body. If you have more of this protein, more thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) will be bound up, making less free hormone available to do its job all over your body and resulting in symptoms of hypothyroidism.
4. Reduce caffeine
Did you know that caffeine interferes with the activity of T3 (the thyroid hormone active in your body tissues)? Take it easier on the caffeine and if you’re relying on caffeine to get you through your day or make it possible for you to think clearly, please reconsider your state of health. You can function wonderfully by working on your health rather than relying on stimulants!
5. Just say no to drugs
And if you think I’m talking about illicit drugs, you’re wrong!
Did you know that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (aka SSRIs, the most commonly prescribed antidepressant medication) reduce levels of T3? Surprising, right? This means that sometimes patients who are depressed and start taking this type of medication can actually feel WORSE because low T3 levels are associated with depression and many of its symptoms! There are so many great options for treating depression (and anxiety too) with naturopathic medicine whether you are on medication or not. Come in and have a chat with me to learn more.
6. Harmonize hormones
Especially estrogen, which influences all sorts of health issues these days. Many women (and men) are in an estrogen dominant state and excess estrogen (either produced by you or coming from external sources such as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy) can reduce the efficiency of T4.
I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but you can balance hormones naturally! Rather than ignore the problem or cover it up by using external hormones, why not seek to understand and treat hormonal imbalance so your body can work better? I have a special interest in women’s health issues at all ages, so contact me to learn more.
7. Stop smoking
Nicotine depresses thyroid hormone levels to create a chronic underlying hypothyroid state and is also hard on your adrenal health. So if you needed just one more reason to quit this toxic habit, there you go! Need help quitting? There are amazing naturopathic treatments to support you in quitting smoking and I’d love to help you, so come see me!
The thyroid gland is very sensitive to toxins such as heavy metals (particularly lead and mercury), chlorine, fluoride, xenoestrogens, PCBs, and probably many others!
We are surrounded by so many more toxins that ever before and much of the time we cannot directly control our exposure. However, you can improve your body’s ability to deal with this toxic onslaught by regularly engaging in safe and healthy total body detox and improving the function of your elimination organs. I’m very interested in detoxification and offer a Whole Body Detox program both individually and a group program every spring, so check it out!
9. Prioritize exercise
Not only is getting enough exercise the #1 best possible health habit you can do to prevent every chronic disease out there (for more on this, see my blog Exercise is the best medicine?), but it also helps thyroid hormones conversion in your body, helping them to work better and more efficiently!
Too tired to exercise? You may be in a vicious cycle and you can break it! If you exercise more, your energy and stamina can improve dramatically, which gives you more energy to do everything you need to do (including exercise).
10. Decrease stress
Cortisol, a major stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands, decreases T3, increases risk of auto-antibody production (hello Hashimoto’s or Graves), and interferes with thyroid function. Healthy adrenal function and addressing chronic stress are cornerstones to a healthy thyroid.
There are lots of ways to work on stress and adrenal support with naturopathic treatment, so come talk with me about it!
Watch my video about how Naturopathic medicine can treat Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism:
Interesting article with good reminders. Been trying the above for 4 weeks….
You totally lost me at number 5. Just say no to drugs. I have had depression and hypothyroidism for 7 years and went off the antidepressants 8 months ago. I went to see 2 different ND’S in the meantime. The depression never went away, 8 months of hell. I do everything in my power to keep my body and mind healthy but nothing helped with the depression so I recently started back on the zoloft. Sometimes there is simply no other options.
Hi Jen, thanks for your perspective! It is true that depression requires individualized treatment and while many patients find benefit from medications, many also do not. When choosing to take antidepressant medications, it is important to be aware of the possible adverse effects so they may be managed appropriately.
I am having trouble getting my prescription of desicated thyroid. The supplier says they don’t have any stock. My last prescription was for 300x 30mg. All I could get was 52. That will give me only 17 days of medication because I need 90 mg daily and the supplier doesn’t make 90 mg. I live in Edmonton Alberta and the pharmacies all seem to have the same problem we use only one supplier for all of Canada. I understand the US has someND but not allowed to send to Canada. What are we supposed to do??? Thanks for ur reply!
Hi Anita, yes, there appears to be an ongoing issue with supply of desiccated thyroid in Canada. I recommend you speak to your doctor or pharmacist about when they expect the medication to be available or about switching to another medication or compounded medication to provide a similar dose to what you are currently taking.