Thyroid disease on the rise, with many of the newly diagnosed being told by their health care providers they will have to be on medication for the rest of their life. However, here are 10 ways to improve your thyroid health and not one requires a stop at the pharmacy.
Published on The RawVision.com
I wanted to share my best strategies for thyroid health, the ones that have worked for me and have kept me symptom-free for the past 5 years. Whether you have thyroid issues or want to prevent them, read on…. In my mid-thirties I began experiencing symptoms of tiredness, fatigue, low mood, excessive appetite, weight-gain, poor concentration, confusion, coldness, poor circulation, brittle nails, dry hair and skin problems…. and I’m sure there’s others I can’t even remember! A blood test confirmed that I had an underactive thyroid and I was immediately put on thyroid hormone medication by my doctor, which I was told would be for the rest of my life as the thyroid was no longer capable of working effectively. The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the throat/neck area and, as a major player in the endocrine system as it is responsible for regulating the body’s natural rhythms, hormones and metabolism. If the thyroid is out of balance, your whole body will be out of balance and you could experience a whole host of symptoms. Women in particular are at higher risk of developing thyroid problems, the most common being Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism is when the gland is over-active. There are many other symptoms of low thyroid function, including miscarriage, poor fertility, puffy eyes, nervousness, low libido, sleep problems and poor vision. In fact the list of common symptoms is way too extensive to mention here, so if you are feeling in any way out of balance it’s worth doing some research and getting your doctor to check you out. After being on medication for 4 years I made some diet and lifestyle changes that dramatically changed how I felt and I immediately started to see positive results. Within a few short months I was able to wean off the medication and have remained pretty much symptom-free since then. However, it has meant that I have had to be consistent with my diet as much as I can, as well as taking care of a few other lifestyle factors. I regularly encounter women who have an underactive thyroid condition and get asked what can they do naturally to help their condition. I can only tell you what I did, and what I still do, and the lifestyle I choose to follow which I believe has kept me in balance for the past 5 years. I didn’t make all of these changes at once, and I don’t recommend that you do either. But taking it one step at a time and gradually making each one a habit will mean you will be giving yourself the best chance of feeling better and improving the health of your thyroid. From my research over the years these 10 simple lifestyle changes seem to be widely accepted as a good protocol to follow for thyroid health. However, please bear in mind that everyone is different and you may have to adjust some things to find what works best for you.
- Eat a diet that is rich in whole, raw, preferably organic, foods. Lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and sprouted microgreens gives you a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals and living enzymes that begin to replenish and heal the body at a cellular level. This is my number one because it is the one thing that made the biggest difference to how I felt very quickly. Within a couple of weeks of going raw, even to only about 60%, I was already feeling better, losing weight and gaining energy. Note: it is known that raw cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and collard greens can block iodine absorption which is not so good for the thyroid, therefore it’s a good idea not to eat them excessively. You can lightly cook them where possible to deactivate the goitrogenic compounds. Avoiding pesticides as much as possible is also an important factor, although I know it’s not possible for everyone to only eat organic food, so you do the best you can.
- Increase the amount of iodine rich sea vegetables in your diet, such as Nori, Wakame, Dulse and Kelp. These provide a natural and rich source of iodine and minerals that are vital for thyroid health. Try to eat them at least 3 times a week. You can sprinkle dried sea vegetables on your salads and soups, or use raw Nori sheets for making delicious wraps. Try this week’s recipe for delicious Sea Vegetable Ramen Soup. You can also take a daily kelp supplement or stir half a teaspoon of kelp powder into your smoothies or juices. You will soon notice your skin, hair and nails improve! NB: If you suffer with an over-active thyroid you don’t need the extra iodine in your diet.
- Avoid soy products as much as possible as they are also goitrogenic and particularly bad for thyroid function. These come in the form of milks, cheeses, tofu, textured vegetable protein and spreads.
- Stop drinking fluoridated water. Flouride is added to municipal water supplies here in Ireland and in some parts of the UK, despite there being much controversy over its long-term damaging effects to health. It is banned in most other parts of Europe as it is known to damage the thyroid gland, as well as being linked to cancer and many other chronic health problems. Boiling your water or using a standard water filter does not get rid of or even reduce fluoride. You need to invest in a really good water filtration system like reserve osmosis or a water distiller. It’s also a good idea to stop using fluoride toothpaste. I stopped using it over ten years ago and have not had a single dental problem since. That said, dental health is as much about diet as it is about cleaning your teeth!
- Avoid toxic chemical substances as much as possible. This includes around your home and on your body. There are many chemicals used in body products, perfumes and cosmetics, and please don’t buy into clever labelling such as “natural” or “organic ingredients”. The percentage of natural ingredients can be very small and the rest very unnatural. Anything you put onto your skin will be transferred into your blood stream and any toxins present can build up in the thyroid gland and cause untold damage over time. As regards your home, choose natural cleaners and deodorisers as you will be inhaling them in the air. A group of carcinogenic chemicals that are used in non-stick cookware, such as Teflon and PFC’s (perflourinated compounds), are known to be of great concern to our health, in particular that of the thyroid gland. When heated to high temperatures, these pans can emit no less than 6 toxic gasses into your food and into the air and the risk of damage to our thyroid and our health increases dramatically. For more information about avoiding the use of non-stick pans check out this article: http://www.ewg.org/research/healthy-home-tips/tip-6-skip-non-stick-avoid-dangers-teflon
- Avoid processed and micro-waved foods as much as possible. A microwave oven uses ionizing radiation to cook food, the same as an x-ray machine does, and also emits radiation into the surrounding air. Research has shown that microwaving food can damage your health. Also, the packaging that microwavable food is wrapped and cooked in is shown to carry very toxic chemicals that become absorbed by the food when heated. Source: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/why-you-should-never-microwave-your-food/
- Avoid processed, refined sugar and salt. Choose to sweeten naturally with dried fruits, maple or date syrup or stevia. Use Himalayan Pink or Celtic Sea salt in place of table salt.
- Increase your intake of multi-B vitamins, vitamin D, zinc and Selenium. Eating a few Brazil nuts every day is great for increasing Selenium levels.
- Eat a spoonful of raw, organic Coconut Oil each day as it is known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. It is also known to be good for promoting thyroid health.
- Lastly, I take 3 drops of Nascent Iodine in a large glass of water and sip it throughout the day. I do this on and off for periods of a few weeks at a time, especially when I’m not eating enough sea vegetables. Unlike regular iodine, nascent iodine works to naturally balance and regulate the thyroid, as well as having a positive effect on overall health. Source: http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/what-is-nascent-iodine/