WHETHER YOU HAVE no symptoms whatsoever or struggle with low energy and losing weight, more and more people are dealing with symptoms connected to poor thyroid health and hypothyroidism. This important gland is responsible for regulating our metabolism and energy level, though it’s efficiency may silently decline due to poor lifestyle choices. What to do?
Amie Valpone, author of Eating Clean, overcame hypothyroidism and a slew of other health issues from adrenal fatigue to candida that had negatively impacted her health for years. This month Amie is sharing tips she’s collected on her road to recovery for what to do when one is first diagnosed with one of these debilitating imbalances. Here’s Amie with her first 5 steps for managing hypothyroidism…
Eight years ago I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and was put on Synthroid, a thyroid-regulating drug to help my thyroid function. Hypothyroidism is low thyroid function, which affects close to 20 million Americans. The interesting part about my diagnosis is that I had zero symptoms. I was thin, I was high energy, I had a fast metabolism, etc. Hypothyroidism is known as ‘a silent epidemic’ according to my integrative- and functional-medicine doctors.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck right below your Adam’s apple. It’s what controls your energy and metabolism. Something you may not realize is that every cell is your body has thyroid hormone receptors, which is why our thyroid has so much power over our health. The reality is that if your thyroid isn’t working well, nothing in your body will work. Sadly, it took me years to figure this out. Our thyroid is complicated and what works for one person, may not work for another. We are all very different. I felt like a guinea pig for 10 years trying to get my thyroid to function normally.
Many of my clients and readers suffer for years without addressing the underlying causes of what’s going on in their body and what is causing their thyroid to underperform. Western medicine’s approach to hypothyroidsm was to give me a drug – but I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my life on a drug. I knew there was a better way and I learned how to get my thyroid (and my entire body) working for me, instead of against me. It took many years to heal after a decade of chronic illness, however, I can say today that my hypothyroidism is healed.
How did I do it? I realized that the thyroid is not always the problem of hypothyroidism. It’s often rooted in a screwed-up immune system, but many doctors do not test for the antibodies that show autoimmune activity in our bodies. That’s where functional medicine comes into play. It’s important to understand the underlying imbalance in your body and what is causing your thyroid to be suppressed. Medication is a Band-Aid approach and it’s not helping solve any problems or helping your body heal. As much as you don’t want to hear that, it’s true. Trust me, eight years ago I wanted a drug and a quick fix. Now, I simply want to heal when my body is imbalanced. I now understand how to keep my immune system working optimally and how to eat right for my thyroid health.
The First 5 steps: How to deal with Hypothyroidism
Find Underlying Food Sensitivities. In my new book, Eating Clean, I show readers how to determine which foods are wreaking havoc on their bodies, especially the thyroid. The biggest culprits for thyroid patients? Gluten and soy! Those are the two biggies that can negatively affect your thyroid, which is why they are next on our list.
Remove Gluten and Soy. Gluten is a major cause of Hashimoto’s, which is an autoimmune attack on your thyroid. The molecular composition of our thyroid tissue is very similar to that of gluten, which is what causes the problem in many people. Removing gluten can help relieve many of your unwanted thyroid symptoms. Soy is also a problem with thyroid health. When I cut out dairy, I ate tofu and soy sauce for years and it negatively affected my hormones and thyroid function. My doctors made it very clear to me that soy can disrupt normal thyroid function by not allowing our body to use iodine, which disrupts the conversion from our T4 thyroid hormone to our T3 thyroid hormone. Moreover, the phytoestrogens in soy proteins have been shown to inhibit thyroid peroxidase. Conventional soy is also a top GMO food, which is another reason to avoid it!
Avoid Eating Too Many Raw Goitrogen Veggies. Foods such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, radishes, peanuts, watercress, and Brussels sprouts are delicious, however, it’s important to not eat too many of these veggies in their raw form because they can interfere with your thyroid function. Cooking them is another story; I cook many of these veggies each week in my home, however, as much as I love eating these veggies raw, I have to be careful not to eat too many because it can negatively affect my thyroid.
Eat More Healthy Fat. I cannot stress enough how important healthy fats are for your thyroid and entire endocrine system. Fat feeds your hormones! Many of my female clients fear fat and they end up with endocrine and thyroid problems including hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, loss of libido and more later in life. It’s important to choose healthy fats that are anti-inflammatory such as avocados, almonds, walnuts, extra-virgin olive oil, ground flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Keep Your Gut Healthy. 80% of our immune system is in our gut, so if your gut isn’t in tip-top shape, you’re going to see health issues pop up throughout your life in unexplainable manifestations such as acne, weight gain, arthritis, depression and autoimmune disease. Many people don’t realize there is a huge connection between gut health and symptoms as minor as acne or headaches, but if you think about how much of your immune system is in your gut, then it’s clear to see why the focus on gut health is so important. Work with your functional medicine doctor to determine what strain of probiotics are best for you and how you can increase your good gut flora.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health program.
Do you have any tips for women with the opposite condition, hyperthyroidism? I have the disease and have been researching how diet and lifestyle can affect my hormones, but there is so much information out there that it is difficult to discern which is reliable.
I’ve had hypothyroidism for 10 years and my medication is constantly changing, I had no idea gluten had an effect on the thyroid! Thanks for the tips.
Or any tips for people on Synthroid, but lacking a thyroid… 🙂 Had mine removed last July!
More and more research shows that you’d have to eat a boatload of goitrogen veggies for them to have a negative effect. They are in fact, so beneficial, especially if you are suffering thyroid disorders, they can help restore your health. Please check this out and remove this false info.
I am an individual with hypothyroidism who’d like to add and comment to fellow readers.
With any medical advice, discuss your body and lifestyle with your a doctor. This must be someone whom you have an open and trusting relationship. I am not a doctor; the following is just what I’ve discovered on my journey.
Some functional doctors “diagnose” this disorder based on subclinical standards, which can be extremely beneficial for individuals with borderline blood results suffering from hair loss, fatigue, internal temperature regulation etc (Clinical data such as these symptoms and the many other systemic problems cause by inadequate, overproduction or fluctuating thyroid hormones is very important for managing an individual’s long term health because thyroid hormones contribute to the functionality of EVERY CELL IN THE BODY) — I don’t know the writer of this article, their doctor, or their situation– but I caution readers against being able to “cure” thyroidism, and I am weary of how the writer was diagnosed given they had “zero symptoms.” I wonder if they just didn’t recognize their symptoms as belonging to this condition. If you are wondering yourself, or about yourself, please look up symptoms of this condition because at standard and subclinical levels (below standard protocol for American M.D.s) sleep loss, weak nails, feeling cold, rapid heartbeat, weight fluctuations, sweats, irritability and so on can be attribute to “life stress” instead of a hormonal disorder. There is no “cure” but there are causes, and treatment of causes vary by the individual. I don’t discount that the writer of this article may have had a cure for their root cause, they just didn’t get that detailed. Right on! if this is the case.
Be weary if your doctor suggests treatment as a weight loss solution if you are not presenting symptoms and your blood levels are normal; there is a lot of literature your doctor should have read warning of the dangers of mis-medication for this purpose alone. This is different than a subclinical diagnosis. Many patients suffer with subclinical thyroidism because their doctors are overly cautious given these dangers, so I suggest that you evaluate your wellness over several appointments. Your doctor may suggest a symptom journal to help accurately track your health. If weight is the main issue, and not a hormonal disorder, this tool can transition into a way to be accountable for your food and fitness choices, just as a budget helps ones finances.
Thyroidism is a non-heritable condition (not genetic), but it tends to run in families (possibly epigenetic), so ask relatives about how they manage their treatment. It may be helpful to know if bioidentical or pharma synthesized medications work best for your treatment. Some but not all thyroid disorders are caused by autoimmunity. Not all autoimmunity is Hashimoto. Talk to your doctor about the role of stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin. Please also look into the inaccuracy of treatment based on blood levels alone, comparing the standards of other developed countries, as well as look into compounded prescription of T3 and T4.
I encourage others with this condition to look into how proper levels of iodine (an important building block for self production of thyroid hormone) can off set the emphasis on avoiding brussel sprouts, broccoli etc. Also considering the difficulties in digesting and synthesizing proteins, build muscle, many people look to have a higher protein diet from diverse sources of amino acids (meat, fish, egg, bean + rice, nuts) while reducing simple carbohydrates. As far as processed food, eliminate it. Thyroidism makes the disposal of toxins difficult, and body fat, which means those extra pounds are full of extra toxins. Look to foods like cranberry, beets and dandelion to aid your body with waste. Don’t forget about healthy starches and heritage grains or wild rice (a seed), and natural sources of sugar found in honey or fruits for quick energy. Try to vary fats from sources like fish, avocado, grass fed beef, a little goat cheese, olive and coconut oils to build strong cell walls.