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Article to come…
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What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland. It helps to regulate metabolism and weight. Thyroid hormones influence every cell and process in the body including growth and development.
How does it work?
The thyroid produces three types of hormones: T3, T4, and T2. These hormones interact with all other hormones in our bodies. The liver converts T4 into T3 (the active form). T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair and helps maintain body weight by controlling metabolism. T3 can be disrupted by stress, infections, nutritional imbalances, toxins and allergens.
Hypothyroidism is and under-active thyroid, when when our bodies don’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Many, many people have sub-clinical hypothyroidism with no obvious signs or symptoms.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism include: tiring easily and lack of sustained energy, depression, feeling of a “heavy” head, falling asleep sitting up, weight gain, dry skin and chronic hives, hair loss, always feeling cold, low basal body temperature, stiff and popping joints, tingling and numbness.
Hyperthyroidism is an over-active thyroid, when the thyroid secretes too much T4.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: protruding eyes, menstrual cycle irregularities, weight loss, heartbeat irregularities, emotional instability, lack of mental focus, nervousness, restlessness, and frequent bowel movements.
Possible Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction and What to Avoid
Some possible underlying causes of thyroid dysfunction include: radiation exposure, chronic stress, nutrient debt (from eating processed foods, low HCl and malabsorption), heavy metal accumulation, pesticides, halogens (bromides, fluoride, chlorine), dysbiosis, free radical damage (low antioxidants), low iodine levels, low selenium levels, yo-yo dieting, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) and goitrogens (in soy and cabbage family foods), Food allergies and sensitivities, and gluten sensitivity.
Testing thyroid function
Lab tests may be done to access the function of the thyroid including: TSH test, free T4 and free T3 test, and a thyroid antibody test to test for an autoimmune reaction. A self test can be performed as an initial indicator of low thyroid by taking our temperature, with a basal body thermometer, each morning, before getting out of bed, for at least three days. Average body temperature measurements should not be below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.4 degrees Celsius.
What to Add In
Things to add in to our diets and lifestyles to nourish the thyroid include:
- “Clean” whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) to help reduce her exposure to toxins in the diet, particularly pesticides as they interfere with iodine uptake.
- Shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store looking for nutrient dense, unprocessed whole foods.
- A primarily plant based diet of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, will provide her with plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
- Meals including protein and healthy fats to help us feel more satisfied and support blood sugar stability. healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, egg yolks and omega 3 oils (like those found in cold water fish, walnuts and pecans, will not make us fat but instead nourish the thyroid and help to regulate our weight).
- Slow down, careful chewing, avoiding or limiting convenience foods (which lead to inflammation and thyroid problems), as well as drinking between meals (not with meals) so as to not dilute HCl.
- Drinking pure or filtered water, which does not contain any fluoride or Chlorine.
- Sea foods and Sea vegetables, (such as: kelp flakes or mixed seaweed flakes), rich in trace minerals and iodine, have a salty flavor and can be added (undetected) to soups and stews. Note: Iodine containing foods are recommended for non-autoimmune thyroiditis only. For autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), they should be avoided.
*For more information on Hashimoto’s and molecular mimicry, see my tip on going gluten free.
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Further to my previous post on eliminating gluten, let’s take a further look into an elimination diet. In previous post we have talked about the microbiome and how important a healthy gut is to our overall health and what can happen when the gut is compromised. Certain foods tend to be more problematic when it comes to food allergies and sensitives. Some of the more problematic foods include: wheat and gluten containing grains, soy, corn, pasteurized dairy, lactose, peanuts, tree-nuts, eggs, fish, shellfish and citrus. This is where your food and mood journal comes in handy. Food preservatives and additives can also be problematic.
If you think you are sensitive to any one of these common problem foods, try eliminating it completely, in all forms, from your diet for a week. When you add it back in, try to eat quite a bit of it. Eat it for every meal if you can. Watch for any signs of reaction and record them in your journal. You can eliminate these foods singularly, one at a time or do a complete elimination diet where all of the suspect foods are eliminated at once. These foods should be added back one at a time while watching for and recording any reactions. Some signs and symptoms to watch for might be digestive upset, bloating, gas, cramps, diarrhea, rash, eczema, breathing problems, stuffy or runny nose, agitation, emotional upset, brain fog, headaches, loss of energy fatigue or muscle aches.
While we are discussing removing problem foods, we might also consider not only eliminating foods that we are potentially sensitive to but also foods that are not serving us in other ways. Some of these foods include: animal products raised with growth hormones and anti-biotics that disrupt our own hormone levels, sugary foods that disrupt our insulin and leptin levels, caffeine that stimulates stress hormones, and gluten grains that may have a negative affect on the thyroid.
Back in health tip #1, I asked you to start a start a wellness journal and write down your why for embarking on a new healthy living regime. In that same journal, if you haven’t started already, it’s time to start recording what you eat and how you feel throughout your day. No one else need see this journal but yourself, so please be honest and record everything you eat. No one is going to judge you for it, not even you! Right? Information is power. I have found this to be an invaluable tool to find out where I’m on track and where I’m doing a lot of unconscious and emotional eating and when I’m eating for a pick-me-up, not necessarily out of hunger. It’s a great way to examine your habits. If I asked you, most of you would tell me that you eat a pretty healthy diet. That’s that slippery mind thing again and the power of writing things down. Most of us know how to eat a healthy diet, but we make little concessions all the time, “oh, just one, I deserve a treat, if I eat it quickly and if no one sees, it doesn’t count”. Writing it down helps you stay accountable to yourself and on track with your goals. It also helps you see where you might be sensitive to certain foods and notice dips in energy during the day when you go looking for caffeine or something sweet to bolster you up. Please also remember to write down how you’re feeling as well, both physically and emotionally. Are you bloated, gassy, achy? Do you feel tired, irritable, sad? The more information you record, the better tool your journal is going to be for you to make the appropriate and necessary changes to reach your goals. And don’t forget to reward yourself for the things you did for your health and for your accomplishments, no matter how small. I add exclamation marks and happy faces for myself whenever I do something that is in line with my goals. Remembering to drink my water, making myself a green juice or a smoothie, eating a big salad, working out, going for a hike or mountain biking in the forest are all things that get a smiley face reward in my journal! 🙂