Hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition where your thyroid gland is underactive, meaning it doesn’t produce enough hormones.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism include;
- Fatigue, tiredness, or sluggishness
- Weight Gain
- Fertility problems
- Cold feet and/or hands
- Dry and thinning hair
- Dryness of the skin
- Mental Fog
How does thyroid work? TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) is released by the pituitary gland, which stimulates the thyroid to release the hormone T4. T4 then converts into T3. T3 is the more biologically active hormone that is absorbed by all the cells and tissues in the body.
One of the biggest problems in hypothyroidism is that you may have trouble converting T4 to T3 in your tissues, which is the active hormone and it may convert to Reverse T3. Reverse T3 sits on the binding sites for T3, thereby limiting the conversion of T4 to T3 and doesn’t allow T3 hormone to bind and perform its functions.
Factors that increase conversion of T4 to RT3
- Environmental Toxin
- Chronic dieting
What can you do apart from taking the thyroxine medication?
You can try the below mentioned protocols in addition to taking your medication. If you feel better, you could even speak to your GP about reducing your dosage.
Treating Hypothyroidism with Functional & Nutritional Medicine
1. Elimination Diet
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten free diet is beneficial for people with under active thyroid. This is essentially because the molecular structure of protein found in gluten called gliadin, resembles that’s of thyroid gland. When this protein enters the blood stream via your gut lining, your immune system tags it as an invader and causes destruction. This means that when you ingest any foods or drinks containing gluten, your immune system will attack your thyroid.
You may be sensitive to other foods such as dairy, eggs, soya, rice etc., which could activate a potentially destructive auto immune response causing your immune system to attack your thyroid. Hence, it may be beneficial to run a full panel to check your food intolerances.
2. Limiting the intake of Goitrogens
Goitrogens are substances found in medicines or foods that have been known to supress the thyroid gland by interfering with thyroid hormone production.
Goitrogens are found in cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower. However, you don’t need to completely eliminate them form your diet. If eaten in moderation, you should not have a problem. These foods are considered goitrogenic, it doesn’t mean you should completely avoid them. Cooking or lightly steaming is preferred over eating them in a raw form.
3. Nutrients to support optimum thyroid function
Nutrients such as iron, iodine, tyrosine, zinc, selenium, magnesium. B vitamins, vitamin A, E C, and D are found to be crucial for the proper function of the thyroid gland.
Selenium is essential for conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into an active form T3 and protecting the thyroid gland from damage resulting from excessive iodine exposure. Foods that are rich in selenium include brazil nuts, oysters, fish, seeds, beef and lamb, chicken and turkey, mushrooms, Ayurvedic herbs such as Gum guggulu, Brahmi, Liquorice Root and Ashwagandha have been found to support thyroid function by increasing the conversion of T4 into active T3, increasing energy levels and boosting your immune system.
4. Essential fatty acids such as omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish) and omega-6 fatt acids (found in blackcurrant seed oil, borage oil and evening primrose) have been shown to balance thyroid levels and if you suffer from brain fog, then DHA found in fish oil could help as it is a necessary nutrient for supporting the brain function.
5. Managing stress and sleep through meditation, yoga and mindfulness. Get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. You could try apps such as headspace, be calm for meditation and mindfulness or join a yoga class.
6. Get physically active: Starting an exercise routine including 30 minutes foe exercise, 5 days a week or some high intensity workout (HIIT) for 10-15 minutes per day.
7. A metabolic detoxification plan for 14 or 21 days would be beneficial in getting rid of all toxins from the body and improve liver function.
8. Healthy Gut: Gut contains two-third of the immune tissue, hence a properly functioning digestive system (gut) is critical to good health.
Finally, work with a functional medicine nutritionist to help you with the above laboratory test and work with you to find our root cause of the thyroid imbalance.
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