If I was paid a dollar for every woman that comes into my practice or woman who e-mails me with PMS, menopause, and hypothyroidism, I'd be, well, not a millionaire, but I'd definitely have a nice rainy day stash!
Hypothyroidism (or low thyroid function) is super common and super stubborn to correct, but it can be done by looking at the entire hormone system in your body, not just the thyroid.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the front base of your throat. It's considered the engine of the body because it controls your digestion, your body temperature, how fast you burn calories, and your energy levels.
So exactly how is the thyroid connected to the other hormones in your body? Well, last week we talked about the adrenals, and the reason that I put them as the first part of this healthy hormone series is because it's imperative that you know what the adrenals are and how they work since:
#1. Stress is such a huge part of our society, so most people have adrenal issues
and #2. The adrenals affect every other hormone.
The adrenals act like the fuel for the thyroid, so if there IS no fuel because they’re tired and burnt out, the thyroid will take it’s regular functioning down a notch. This is because hormones made by the adrenals are needed to convert inactive thyroid hormones into active ones. The thyroid literally cannot work without a healthy level of adrenal hormones.
Here are some common symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Unexplained weight gain
- Low body temperature (often cold, especially the hands and feet)
- Slow mental processes (aren’t as quick as you used to be) and slow physical reactions
- Missing or thinning of the outer 1/3 of the eyebrows (you'll start looking at everyone's eyebrows now!)
- Hair loss
- Chronic fatigue
Since high thyroid function (hyperthyroidism) is far less common than hypothyroidism, I’m not even going to address it here.
If you have these symptoms and your doctor has done thyroid blood tests that have come back normal, you may want to consider visiting an Integrative Medical Doctor or Naturopath who can do testing on your adrenal glands and other hormones.
Most regular MD's can be very black and white, and if you're not above or below their range of normal, then they will say that you don't have an issue. However, one persons' low can be another persons' normal, which is why, as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, I look at the symptom picture AND blood or other lab tests to try and build the most accurate story before going ahead with a plan to balance the true root cause.
If you are someone who has verified hypothyroidism and have been using thyroid medication that stopped working after a few weeks or months, chances are very high that you need to support your adrenals glands as well. Start helping both of them, and you'll see your symptoms start changing for the better in no time at all!
Here are my tried and true ways to support hypothyroidism:
1.Support the adrenals: Yes, I sound like a broken record, but this is the step that 99% of people skip, and they suffer for months, years, hell, even decades because of it. Click here to read how to support your adrenals ... and then go and take a much needed nap without the guilt.
2.Sea veggies: I know what you're thinking: you don't even get enough regular veggies, much less sea veggies! Sea vegetables, aka. seaweed like kombu, nori, and kelp, are one of the most potent thyroid supporters around. They are full of iodine, which is needed, along with the adrenal hormone cortisol, to convert the inactive thyroid hormone T4 to the active form of T3. Sea veggies are pretty much the only rich source of iodine around, and a super easy way to incorporate it into your regular diet with the healthy salt recipe below (click here to find out which salt you should be using).
3. Avoid goitrogens: Goitrowhat? Goitrogens are compounds that block the thyroid from converting it's inactive hormones to the active ones. They naturally occur in foods like unfermented soy (edamame, soy milk, tofu) and raw cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Note that when you ferment soy into tamari sauce, tempeh, or miso, or steam or lightly cook cruciferous veggies it eliminates the goitrogenic effect. So if you've been eating tons of raw kale or putting it into your green smoothie, and you start getting symptoms of hypothyroidism as above, this may be the cause. Don't NOT eat the above super healthy foods, just eat them in the right form if you're prone to low thyroid function.
4. Nuts, especially Brazil nuts: Nuts are high in selenium, which is most concentrated in the thyroid. Brazil nuts are the highest in selenium of all the nuts, just watch your serving size so you aren't overly consuming calories. A small handful is one serving of nuts, or 2 tablespoons of nut butter, which are both equivalent to about 1 ounce.
5. Affirmations: It's easy to start hating a body that doesn't do what you want it to do. Even though I may be slim, I feel the same way about my adrenal glands. Why won't they let me work 24/7? Why can't I handle stress like everyone else? Why can't I get away with only 6 hours of sleep? Why can't my body handle caffeine? If you have hypothyroidism, and especially if you are struggling to lose weight, you probably say similar things. Why can't I lose weight? What's wrong with me? Why am I so lazy? Whether you're saying it about your adrenals, your thyroid, weight, skin, or anything, it's a form of self hatred. This is just going to increase your stress hormones, making it even HARDER to get all of your hormones back into balance. Start by re-phrasing those negative thoughts, which turns them into an affirmation. Make sure there aren't any negative words in the sentence, and repeat them multiple times each day. My fave way is to write them down, and either tape them beside my bathroom mirror, or, if they've really private, tape them to the inside of the medicine cabinet. I repeat them every time I wash my face and brush my teeth, morning and night. Some examples of positive affirmations, mainly centered around reducing stress (because it's so damn hard to do!), are:
Stress is a choice. I choose to have a calm and happy life!
I recognize that feeling healthy doesn’t mean only eating healthy.
I’m allowed to treat myself so that I’m the happiest that I can be!
I wanna know: Do you have thyroid issues or adrenal issues? Have you successfully kept them balanced, and how?!