Being a busy woman can sometime mask issues to do with the thyroid. Feeling exhausted we put it down to running around after kids or chasing work deadlines. Feeling down or anxious or brain fog we put it down to our hormones or too much wine on the weekend. Bowel issues we blame eating on the run.
However, thyroid issues are on the rise and it’s important to pay attention to the signals our body’s are telling us. I recently did a series over on Instagram called Thyroid Thursdays…here are the highlights.
Signs & Symptoms
If you have been feeling:
- exhausted & fatigued
- cold (even in summer!)
- dry skin
- losing hair or outer third of your eyebrows
- depress / low moon
- brain fog
- weight gain
- irregular periods
Then you may have a sluggish thyroid called hypothyroid or Hashimoto's if you have antibodies present.
If on the other hand you have been feeling:
- unintentional weight loss
- heart palpitations
- feel hot
- exhausted / fatigue
- irregular periods
You may be experiencing hyperthyroid (overactive) or Graves Disease if antibodies are present.
There is also thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules to be aware of.
I've been seeing more and more thyroid clients recently and thyroid dysfunction is the second most common endocrine condition (after diabetes mellitus) affecting women of reproductive age (Reid et al 2013).
Think of the thyroid as a barometer and thermostat...it regulates so many bodily functions such (as you can tell by the symptoms!) heart rate, temperature, sex hormones, digestive function, and more!
However...good news! There is lots that natural medicine, diet and lifestyle can do to help you manage and even reverse your thyroid symptoms by getting to the root cause.
How do I get my thyroid tested properly?
Generally what happens is you go off to your doctor and ask for a thyroid test, more than likely they will just test TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), sometimes they will test TSH, T4 & T3 and a small percentage may actually get what we call a full thyroid panel of TSH, T4, T3, reverse T3 AND antibodies Thyroperoxidase & Thyroglobulin (hooray!).
Only now we can have a look at the full picture ...however remember blood test results is only part of the picture, your symptoms are crucial...how you feel, how much energy you have and how this is affecting your daily life. (Don't let the numbers rule your life!).
As a naturopath I like to look at a thyroid panel once every 6 months to see how we are tracking...if you have a doctor that is on board with being a team player and your diagnosis is an autoimmune one of Hashimoto's or Graves then we may want to get the blood tests done every 3 months to start with.
The next part of the puzzle is the ranges that the tests are at...functional naturopathic medicine views the ranges differently than conventional doctors.
Optimal ranges: TSH 0.5 -2 uIU/ml , T4 15-23 pmol/L , T3 5-7 pmol/L, reverse T3 11-18ng/dl, TPO antibodies <2 IU/ml, TG antibodies <2 IU/ml.
If you've been told your blood test were normal and you still feel like poo or you have been prescribed thyroid medication and still feel like poo then book a FREE discovery call with me and let's chat about strategies to get you feeling better and even improving your blood test results.
What you say? A naturopath saying no to green smoothies?
Goitrogenic vegetables is the reason.
Ok so yes we love encouraging people to eat their greens but in the case of thyroid disease vegetables such as broccoli, kale & cauliflower contain a compound called goitrogens which can inhibit iodine uptake which is an essential mineral for the production of thyroid hormones.
But wait don't give up on your greens yet...if you lightly steam these vege it breaks down the goitrogens and they will still offer the body many benefits without the goitrogens. So please still eat your greens!
And yes you can have these raw in your salads sometimes but maybe not multiple times a day or seven days a week.
Give other greens in your smoothie a try like zucchini and avocado...here's a favourite smoothie recipe which is anti-inflammatory too:
1/2 cup of frozen mango
1/2 a frozen zucchini
1/4 of an avocado
3 x slices of frozen ginger
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric
1 Cup of almond milk
2 x scoops of Pea Protein.
Blend and enjoy!
What to eat?
If you're feeling sluggish, bloated, anxious or depressed it can be hard to figure out what to eat with a thyroid disorder.
In our first naturopathic consult we will go through your food diary, this is so valuable because not only do we talk about what you've been eating but why your been eating those things...are you rushed in the morning? Do you hate green vegetables? Do you crash in the afternoon? Are you eating late into the night? There is no judgement here, I see it as knowledge is power and in that knowledge we can start to tweak and change things that you YOU!
But you have to meet me half way to make some changes and sometimes that can be a bit hard, but you can do it!
With thyroid disorders it is common to see food intolerances...I'll often get you to do a food intolerance test (I use a hair test), this takes some of the stress out of what to take out and what to eat more of!
Do I have to give up gluten and dairy? Is a question I'm commonly asked...quite plainly...yes. These two can be inflammatory and contribute to leaky gut...so we take them out to reduce the "fire in your belly" so we can focus on healing your gut lining.
But let's focus on what you can have...lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, oily fish (Omega 3's), wholegrains in the form of quinoa & buckwheat, grass-fed animal protein. Now sometimes we may need to look at something a little more strict called the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) if there is a lot going on, but I like to assess on a case by case basis.
Personal Care Detox
Soap, body wash, make-up, shampoo, moisterizer, hairspray...it all has a toxic load. What you put on your skin will be absorbed into your body and blood stream so it's important to choose wisely.
The thyroid is very sensitive to environmental toxins which means it can be susceptible to damage and therefore create issues over time. Heavy metals in particular have a big impact on the thyroid...such as lead, mercury, cadmium and aluminum.
Other toxins to watch out for in your skincare are Parabens, Fragrance, Oxybenzone, Triclosan.
Sticking to natural and organic brands that are trusted (always check the labels) and a great resource is the Environmental Working Group's website Skin Deep
Thyroid supplements...where to start?
With so many options, and when you're feeling fatigued, overwhelmed with brain fog and just not yourself, it's super hard to know what to believe when your bombarded with marketing.
So that's where I come in...because every thyroid client is different (pssst...we treat the client individually and holistically in naturopathy). So always consult with a trained naturopath or nutritionist because then you will have a plan for YOU and YOUR body and you'll have access to high-quality practitioner only supplements. You can read about why to have practitioner-only supplements here.
In general though the basics are magnesium and B vitamins and a thyroid support blend.
Magnesium because we are all deplete but with hypothyroid everything slows down in the body including transit time eg: constipation...magnesium citrate or glycinate can help with this and detoxification and with sleep quality! So take your magnesium at night.
B Vitamins are for energy...and boy oh boy if you have hypothyroid or Hashimoto’s you'll need these! B1 is commonly deficient and as it's the vitamin that helps to convert carbohydrates into energy it could explain why you have no energy! But never take B vitamins in isolation as they all work together. There isn't enough room in a socials post to go through all the vitamins!
So thyroid support blend may contain selenium, iodine, Vitamin D, Zinc, Vitamin A and often a wonderful herb called Withania somnifera or Ashwaganda the ultimate stress adaptogen. These all help the thyroid to produce and convert to the bioactive hormone so it can get into our cells and do it's thang!
There are so many more supplements to consider that it always needs an individual approach....so book your FREE discovery call and let's chat about your individual needs!
Stress and thyroid health
High stress and poor thyroid health go hand in hand
So what can you do to reduce stress? Especially when you feel so tired all the time and you never get to finish your To Do List, but you've just said Yes to helping out for the school fair / sports event / community fundraising.etc.etc.etc....
Well for a start we need to "unlearn" being busy!
- Say no to things
- Stop making long To Do Lists
- Ask for help
- Doing nothing is not wrong
- Stop feeling guilty
Okay so these are thing we maybe should look at stopping but what can we do to reduce stress (without adding another thing to our to do list).
- Spend time in nature (barefoot is even better for grounding benefits)
- Breath work...deep belly breathes while lying in bed
- Journaling...write out anything that's bothering you, better out of your head and onto paper.
- Utilize essential oils such as Lavender, Bergamot, Citrus, Frankincense
- Get personalized Bach Flowers blend made up for you
- Do something fun! (radical I know!) laughter really is the best medicine
Doing some of these regularly helps your nervous system to decompress and relax and be in the parasympathetic mode not "fight or flight" and all this helps with healing the thyroid...it's not optional!
I hope this has helped to give yourself permission to relax.
I hope these basics help you if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid issue or suspect you might have… if you are still struggling, let’s chat…Book a FREE 20 minute Discovery Call today.