To truly answer a patient's question about thyroid dysfunction I feel requires an explanation of the thyroid's normal function. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that is positioned in the neck. The thyroid's main function is to control how quickly the body utilizes energy and produces the protein; it also makes the other hormones in the body work better. The main hormones that the thyroid produces are T3, T4. There are two main ways that the thyroid can cause dysfunction, it can either be hyper or hypo in function.
Hypothyroidism: When the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone this is known as hypothyroidism. There can be many reasons for the thyroid to under produce its hormone. The main causes of the thyroid to under produce its hormone are The brain/pituitary not telling the thyroid it needs to create, autoimmune diseases, iodine deficiencies, pregnancy, or specifically thyroid surgeries. Symptoms can include:
|Fatigue||Elevated blood cholesterol levels|
|Increased sensitivity to cold||Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness|
|Constipation||Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints|
|Dry skin||Heavier than normal menstrual periods|
|Unexplained weight gain||Irregular menstrual periods|
|Puffy face||Slowed heart rate|
The medical treatment usually include prescribing exogenous or synthetic thyroid hormone.
Hyperthyroidism: When the body is producing too much thyroid hormone it is known as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite of hypothyroidism. Like hypothyroidism, there are many potential causes of hyperthyroidism. The main causes of the thyroid to overproduce its hormone are Autoimmune thyroiditis, toxic adenoma's, or goiters. Symptoms can include:
|Sudden weight loss||Rapid heartbeat|
|Tremor (Usually a fine tremble in hands/fingers)||Excessive sweating|
|Changes in menstrual pattern||Increased sensitivity to heat|
|Changes in bowel patters, specifically more frequency||Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)|
|Fatigue/Muscle weakness||Difficulty sleeping|
|Thin skin||Fine, brittle hair|
Hyperthyroidism: When the body is producing too much thyroid hormone it is known as hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is the exact opposite of hypothyroidism. Like hypothyroidism, there are many potential causes of hyperthyroidism. The main causes of the thyroid to overproduce its hormone are Autoimmune thyroiditis, toxic adenoma's, or goiters. Symptoms can include: The medical treatment is to either irradiate the thyroid with radioactive Iodine or to surgically remove part or all of the thyroid. After either of these procedures, the patient will more than likely have to be on some form of thyroid medication for the rest of their lives. Most patients present with both hypo and hyper symptoms, and that's usually the biggest sign of autoimmune disease related to diet. This is because the immune system is attacking the thyroid and the cells attacked release their hormone causing hyper symptoms. Because of this increase in thyroid hormone the healthy, unattached cells shut down and prevent the thyroid from releasing more hormone, thus giving hypo symptoms. In my experience, thyroid dysfunction (hypo & hyper) has roots as an autoimmune disease; this makes diet essential! When your immune system turns on your tissues and starts to see them as foreign invaders, that's an autoimmune disease. While it may be unclear as to exactly why some people's immune systems turn on them, the most straightforward answer I've found is that it's a diet high in grains and starches. Since 80% of your bodies immune system is in your gut, it stands to reason that what you eat will have a direct effect on your immune system. So, how can you as a thyroid patient take back control of your thyroid health?
STEP 1: REMOVE GRAINS
Unfortunately what I am finding in practice is that a protein in grains has an effect on the immune system that causes it to attack the thyroid, thinking it is foreign. This includes all grains (especially whole wheat). This means that removing the grains from your diet will possibly help alleviate your symptoms. Even conservatively removing the highly inflammatory foods from your diet will lessen the burden on your already taxed immune system allowing it to, possibly naturally, repair the gut and help the autoimmune reactions.
STEP 2: BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR
This, again, is along the lines of removing grains but we have to also, in the beginning, eat more fat, protein, and veggies. Doing this allows our bodies to not produce excess cortisol and keep the rest of its hormones balanced so that you won't have to overly tax the already struggling thyroid and adrenal glands. You can help balance your blood sugar by doing the following:
3-5 times a day eat 3-7 ounces of a protein (meat, fish, chicken, lamb, pork, venison, bison or elk etc.
Eat any and all non-starchy vegetables in unlimited quantity with your protein
Limit fruit to 1-2 servings a day and it might be a good idea to remove them altogether if they aren't in season where you live
As you have now learned, the thyroid is in charge of so much, it truly is essential that it be healthy to achieve overall wellness. Oftentimes patients will leave their providers feeling shut down or belittled by their options, and it doesn't have to be that way. If you're experiencing any of the above symptoms and want to take back control of your thyroid health try the natural approaches I've listed above. Cheers to your wellness!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.