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a woman's thyroid being examined

Is Your Thyroid Betraying You?

a woman's thyroid being examined

If you're just not feeling yourself but traditional blood tests indicate that your thyroid is normal, it might be time to dig deeper. Use these strategies to identify and heal your thyroid troubles naturally so you can feel like yourself again.

How the thyroid works

A butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck, the thyroid essentially manages how things move in the body. It communicates with other adrenal glands like cortisol to control everything from metabolism and brain development to digestion, bone health, and muscle and heart functions.

Symptoms of thyroid imbalance

When the thyroid is in balance, life is good. But it can be a painful mystery to solve for the estimated 20 million people who suffer from some form of thyroid dysregulation, whether it's hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid production) or hypothyroidism (not enough). This is primarily because its symptoms mirror those of many other conditions.

Those suffering from either form can feel sluggish or chronically tired, have infrequent bowel movements or constipation, experience unexplained weight gain or loss, have heavier-than-normal periods, develop anxiety or depression, and lose excessive amounts of hair. If left untreated, this imbalance can lead to conditions like insulin resistance and diabetes, metabolic syndrome, low libido, infertility, and accelerated aging.

Solving the thyroid mystery

Comprehensive testing is a vital tool in identifying thyroid dysregulation. Unfortunately, most traditional healthcare-approved testing only looks at the thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, and doesn't include a full thyroid panel to look at the two primary thyroid hormones: thyroxine, or T4, and triiodothyronine, or T3.

The body converts T4 into the active hormone T3 naturally. When there's an imbalance, it's typically because this conversion isn't taking place like it should.

Deeper testing is important because it not only addresses the imbalance but also looks at these levels to see how the thyroid is actually functioning in the body. Ask your healthcare provider for a full thyroid panel or take the DUTCH test to get a more complete picture.

A food-first approach to healing

While synthetic hormones can help regulate the thyroid, they tend to mask rather than address the issue. Healing the thyroid involves deeper work, but it's worth it for this essential gland to function properly.

Fortunately, like with so many other health issues, food can be used as medicine to help heal thyroid imbalances. More specifically, an anti-inflammatory diet loaded with the following vitamins and minerals is key.

Vitamin A/retinol: This fat-soluble vitamin is especially important for T4 to T3 conversion. Not to be confused with beta carotene found in foods like carrots, vitamin A is only found in animal products like beef liver, fatty fish and pastured meat. If you can't stomach these foods, try a cod liver oil supplement.

Vitamin C and iron: The body needs iron to make thyroid hormone, and taking it with vitamin C can aid absorption. Vitamin C has also shown to reduce thyroid antibodies in those with autoimmune disorders. Get vitamin C as a supplement or eat citrus fruits and vegetables like broccoli, and get iron from meat, eggs, and spinach.

Vitamin D: This vitamin—which is actually a hormone—has also shown to reduce the amount of thyroid antibodies, which unknowingly attack healthy cells thinking they're invaders.

Magnesium: This mineral is essential for thyroid function and T4 to T3 conversion. While you can get it from fatty fish, cooked leafy greens, soaked seeds, legumes and nuts, avocado, and high-quality cacao, supplements are quite powerful—as are epsom salt baths.

Zinc: Also helpful for thyroid hormone conversion, you can get this mineral from pastured meats, organic eggs, cultured dairy, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, and oysters.

Iodine: Present in every organ in the body, iodine is essential for thyroid function and conversion in the liver—and a deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism. Iodine-rich foods include seaweed, wild seafood, cultured yogurt, and pastured organic eggs.

Selenium: This mineral also plays a key role in thyroid hormone conversion in the liver. Two Brazil nuts daily cover the recommended daily allowance. So do tuna sardines, chicken, and cottage cheese.

Natural healing strategies

When done consistently, certain lifestyle changes can bring more balance to the thyroid. Not surprisingly, most revolve around managing stress.

Because the body can't tell the difference between minor and major stressors, it handles stress the same. When stress becomes chronic, it can lead to a host of problems, from hormonal imbalances to inflammation—and worse. Try incorporating these strategies for a more balanced body overall.

Breathwork: A key component of stress management is the process of slowing down and truly breathing. It takes work—and it's by no means easy—but practices like meditation have proved to be beneficial in regulating every function in the body, including the thyroid.

Sauna therapy: Sweating detoxifies the body naturally and can be hugely beneficial for optimizing health. If you don't have access to a sauna, regular hot baths can do the trick. Just remember to add epsom salt!

Sleep hygiene: Setting a solid sleep schedule and sticking to it is key for optimal health, regardless of whether you're experiencing health issues.

Adaptogens: Considered food for the adrenals, adaptogens do what they say—help the body adapt to stressors. Reishi mushrooms in particular can help modulate the immune system and calm the nervous system, helping to restore much-need balance.


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