Thyroid health is essential to your overall wellbeing but signs of thyroid dysfunction are often overlooked, even though many thyroid issues are easily (and naturally) remedied.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of your throat. It’s responsible for producing hormones that control our metabolism, growth, and development.
When your thyroid gland is working well, it absorbs iodine from food and--with the help of tyrosine, a critical amino acid—it converts iodine into two key thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are released into your bloodstream, from where they help regulate the complicated processes of metabolism.
There is also the thyroid hormone calcitonin. Calcitonin is a thyroid hormone that has the effect of lowering blood calcium, and while calcium is important, we don't want to much in our blood or we may get what is known as 'Hypercalcemia".
Signs of a healthy thyroid include:
- Good energy
- Your body temperature is consistent (you're not always too hot or too cold)
- Your mood is fairly even
- You can easily manage your weight
- You sleep well
- You have good focus
Looking at these symptoms of a healthy thyroid, it's fairly easy to deduce what an unhealthy thyroid might look like.
Signs of an unhealthy thyroid include:
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Brain fog
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Temperature control issues
- Muscle cramps
- Trouble sleeping
While the effects of thyroid dysfunction can be unsettling, the good news is you can address many of the underlying causes without needing to rely on medication (though you should always talk to your doctor if you think you have a thyroid problem).
Here are some of the best, natural ways to rectify thyroid dysfunction.
How to Improve Thyroid Health
Avoid gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and when it comes to your thyroid, some studies have shown that—for people who already have a sensitivity to gluten—the ingestion of this protein can trigger an immune response against the thyroid, causing thyroid disease.
Limit or avoid soy products. There is strong evidence that isoflavones, chemical components in soy, can cause low thyroid and goiters. However, if you're eating enough iodine and not overeating soy, you shouldn't have this problem (if you already have a healthy thyroid) because iodine naturally blocks these thyroid damaging effects. Soy also contains plant oestrogens that can mimic oestrogen in the female body so may be best avoided by women who experience oestrogen-dominance.
Soy products can also cause bloating, I recently discovered this after eating tofu in my dinner and then again the next day. I was walking along the lake with my husband and dogs on this particular afternoon and I couldn’t figure out what was bloating me that day as I’ve been on the low-FODMAP diet. I remembered I’d eaten tofu recently and upon researching, I discovered that tofu is a potential bloat food.
Include Avocados. These super nutrient-dense fruits are an incredible source of fibre, essential nutrients and healthy fats. Eating avocado regularly can help to reduce inflammation* and this has a thyroid-protective effect.
Eat Chickpeas for Zinc! Zinc is important in thyroid health but also for the health of your immune system, brain and mental wellbeing. I love chickpeas soooo much! I can eat them straight out of the tin (just make sure the tin in BPA-free!)
Eat your greens. Veggies such as asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale & spinach can help potentially reduce negative effects on the function of the thyroid gland by giving you a healthy dose of magnesium, which will alleviate some of the fatigue, muscle cramps, and sleep issues that can be caused by thyroid issues.
There’s a school of thought that eating cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, bok choy, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, kale etc. can cause thyroid problems but the truth is, you would have to consume a “truck load” (an abnormal quantity) for these to have any major impact on the thyroid.
The best way to consume any of the above is to cook them well, this drastically reduces any of the “potentially harmful” goitrogenic substances and other anti-nutrients they contain.
So we mentioned magnesium, but what kind of magnesium should you choose? Opt for high-quality magnesium citrate, which is extremely bioavailable so your body can absorb more of it. Our Perfect Magnesium Citrate is organic and 100% pure and natural. Order today!
Go nuts! Eat a small handful of Brazil nuts every day. Brazil nuts contain the important thyroid mineral, selenium, which helps create those important thyroid hormones. You may like to soak the nuts first to break down the enzyme inhibitors and make them more digestible.
Stop drinking tap water! 🚰
Tap water contains toxic chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride and these are halogens. The problem with halogens, is that they compete with iodine so when we drink tap water, we become deficient in this vital nutrient.
Iodine-deficiency has been linked to breast cancer, cystic breasts and thyroid problems and thyroid disease.
Eat a Mediterranean diet. Studies have shown that eating a Mediterranean diet—a diet that champions eating less meat but rather fish, seafood, eggs and poultry, more plants, and healthy fats—has been linked to a lower risk of thyroid disease. Thank the beauty of whole foods rich in vital minerals and vitamins that support a healthy metabolism.
AVOID processed foods and anything with preservatives, additives, dyes, fake sugars, MSG, GMOs, trans fats & HFCS (high fructose corn syrup). These common foods and add-ins are common and can trigger an autoimmune response that can lead to thyroid disease.
Eat Multiple Organ Meats. Organ meats such as liver, heart, kidneys, thymus, spleen and pancreas are HIGHY nutrient-dense but when you combine all 6, you get all the nutrition needed for healthy thyroid function! Who sits down though to a plate of cooked organ meats?
Probably only very few! Did you know that you can get all the same nutrients and potential benefits from a desiccated organs supplement? Be sure to look for one that contains all 6 essential glandulars - such as this one.
Manage stress. Stress can take a toll on your thyroid and throw it out of whack. Reduce the stress in your life by incorporating mindful breathing, meditating, yoga, Thai chi, and more time spent in nature. All of these methods will promote wellness and well-being while taking a load off your thyroid.
Drinking coffee can trigger the release of adrenaline (your body’s “fight or flight” hormone) which can create stress in your body and upset your nervous system. Long-term use in large quantities has also been shown to damage our neuroendocrineimmune system.
While some folks can happily drink coffee (with no noticeable short term side effects), other people may wish to skip it all together. Sensitive people should avoid it - I mean if you have it and you have any negative effects such as heart palpitations, anxiety, sweating, nervousness or mood changes, etc. and certainly, people with adrenal fatigue should absolutely avoid it!
Incorporate hydrolyzed collagen powder into your daily diet. This type of collagen has been shown to help contribute to a healthy digestive system and bones—two areas that can suffer if your thyroid isn't functioning properly.
Collagen peptides (hydrolyzed collagen) has also been shown to help with the thyroid condition Hashimoto’s.
Add a high-quality organic MCT oil into your diet to support your metabolic processes and ease the burden on your thyroid. Just one tablespoon of MCT oil a day in your coffee (if you can tolerate coffee), in a smoothie, salad dressing or soup can do the trick.
As always, aim to use a good quality MCT oil made from organic coconuts and no palm, chemicals, trans-fats, fillers, or GMOs. Our Perfect MCT Oil meets all these criteria (and more). You can get yours here.
Add in a good iodine supplement
Many of us are iodine deficient and unfortunately, most doctors aren't that knowledgeable about the importance of iodine - especially for women. There may be the rare few out there that are "iodine literate" so be sure to ask if they are when choosing one to work with.
You can also get the book or audiobook 'The Iodine Crisis', as this is an incredible resource for understanding the importance of this nutrient. I HIGHLY recommend it.
What Causes a Thyroid Problem?
Many factors can be the cause or contribute to thyroid issues
Thyroid issues can have physical, mental, emotional and spiritual causes (yes, that's right - spiritual causes). Let me explain what I mean by "spiritual causes"...
Thyroid problems (as well as any throat issue, speech issue, neck & shoulder pain, TMJ problem, respiratory issues, gum diseases and mouth ulcers) can arise when our 5th energy centre/throat chakra is blocked.
When I was a child and teen and lived at home with my family, I suffered frequently with throat issues such as tonsilitis, laryngitis and chronic sore throats. This was manifesting through a blocked throat chakra as I was quite afraid to speak up for myself and could be considered "shy" by some.
I have worked on this in my adult years and have certainly gotten more balanced here.
This chakra can become blocked when we repress our truth and are afraid to speak up or speak out. But it can also become imbalanced when we speak unkindly of self and others.
To help balance it, learn to speak form your heart with clarity, kindness and compassion. Learn to speak when appropriate and listen as well. They say we have 2 ears and one mouth for a reason.
Eat more blue foods such as blueberries, blackberries and blue corn, wear blue clothing, jewellery, use blue crystals (lapis lazuli, sodalite & turquoise) or nail polish to help balance out this energy centre.
Say positive affirmations out loud such as "I am safe to communicate through my words, all is well". Affirmations are powerful (as long as you believe what you're saying). If just starting out using affirmations, you may feel sully at first but it gets better the more you do it and it really does help.
Lastly (but not the least) is to practice chakra meditations (I love the Dr Joe Dispenza meditation: "Blessing of the Energy Centres" - very powerful!!)
- Autoimmune diseases (hyperthyroidism/overactive thyroid, hypothyroidism/under-active thyroid causes by Hashimoto's disease
- Inflammation caused by a virus or bacteria
- Nodules or non-cancerous lumps
- Cancerous tumours
- Some medical treatments including radiation therapy and even certain medicines
- Out of balance throat chakra
*Taking an iodine supplement should be done under the supervision of a trusted health practitioner as it is easy to overdose and you may need to get blood tests before treating to know the dose and if iodine supplementation is for you.
To Finish Up
Remember, there is no substitute for talking to your doctor if you suspect you have a thyroid issue, but in the meantime, adopting these strategies—which are really just healthy eating practices— can help improve your thyroid and overall health.
Disclaimer: this article is purely intended for informational purposes and not as advice. One must seek proper professional advice from their trusted health practitioner.