What’s Tanking your Thyoid?

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to share some startling statistics about the thyroid with the women of Kathy Gelfand’s Empowered Lunch Hour. Believe it or not, 1 out of 8 women will develop thyroid disease during their lifetime and women are 3-5 times more likely to have thyroid problems than men. Even more troubling, about 15% of women may be suffering from a thyroid related issue and not even know it!

So what’s the deal with the thyroid?

Our thyroid is an extremely important gland that governs our metabolism. In fact, almost every single vital bodily process depends on its functioning. Women who have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s (the autoimmune form of the disease) can experience a whole host of issues from depression, anxiety, difficulty losing weight, sleep problems, fertility and pregnancy complications, hair loss and menstrual irregularities.

So what could be tanking your thyroid?

Too Much Stress

Every day we encounter situations, which bring stress into our lives such as traffic, deadlines, and even our loved ones. There is increasing evidence that stress has a negative effect on our bodies. The stress hormone, cortisol and to a lesser extent adrenaline, are mostly to blame. In the early days of hunting and gathering, the release of cortisol made us more alert and even stronger, which was fundamental for our survival. Chronically elevated cortisol levels due to chronic stress inhibits thyroid hormone production and suppresses the conversion of the inactive form of thyroid hormone, Free T4, to the active form, Free T3.

Though we can’t always escape the stressors in our lives there are many things that we can do preventatively or in the moment so that stress doesn’t over take us or our thyroid. My most common recommendation for patients at my New York City naturopathic practice is the development of a daily mindfulness based practice. This can include meditation, breath techniques or yoga. Why these are so helpful is that they enhance parts of our brain which can makes stay calm and present during times of stress with out sending our adrenals into overdriving pumping out adrenaline and cortisol. Other favorites are essential oil, magnesium and Adrenal supportive herbs.

Right Food Done Wrong

Nothing could be more nourishing than a tall glass of green juice and a raw kale salad. Think again if you have hypothyroidism. What’s the problem? Goitrogens, which include cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale, soy (you already learned about this), peanuts, millet and cassava. When these foods are eaten raw, a compound called thiocyanate inhibits the synthesis of thyroid hormone by blocking iodine utilization. This doesn’t mean you should stop eating kale and cabbage. But you will want to ditch your green juice habit as these juices contain raw goitrogens, which can worsen hypothyroidism. Instead roast, steam, sauté and even boil these veggies. The cooking process deactivates thiocyanates making these healthy veggies thyroid friendly.

Another thing to be aware of especially if you are a vegan or vegetarian with hypothyroidism is phytate also know as phytic acid. Phytic acid is found in all grains, nuts, seeds and beans and blocks the absorption of calcium, selenium, magnesium, zinc and iron, which are important nutrients for thyroid function. This is not a problem for most herbivores which natural produce phytase, the enzyme that breaks down phytates, during digestion. But humans do not. If you are vegan or vegetarian and your diet consists heavily on these foods there are things you can do. First avoid eating these raw because the phytate content will be very high. Instead roast, toast, sprout or ferment your nuts, seeds, beans and grains before eating. This will greatly reduce the phytate content and make these foods thyroid friendly and nutritious

Thyroid Disrupting Toxins

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals mimic our hormones and are readily absorbable from a variety of sources we encounter everyday. By sending mixed messages throughout our endocrine system, these chemicals can over stimulate, block, or disrupt the hormone’s natural actions. Thyroid- disrupting chemicals (TDC)s mimic thyroid hormones. TDCs can compete with iodine, preventing it from entering thyroid cells where it is needed for the formation of thyroid hormone. They can also change the shape and function of the thyroid gland, block the production of thyroid hormone, inhibit the ability to turn inactive T4 into active T3, prevent the transport of thyroid hormone in the body, and prevent binding of active thyroid hormone to thyroid receptors, all of which have been shown to have the same predictable harmful downstream effects of hypothyroidism.

Click here to learn some of the things you can be doing on a daily basis to lower thyroid disrupting toxins in your body.

Nutrient Deficiencies

In the absence of Hashimotos (the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism), I have found that key nutrient deficiencies are responsible for hypothyroidism in my practice particularly for my postpartum and breastfeeding patients. You probably already know that Iodine is a key nutrient for a healthy thyroid function. This is because you literally can’t make thyroid hormone with out it as thyroid hormones are comprised of Iodine stuck to a tyrosine residue (one of the essential amino acids). Other key nutrients you might not be so aware of are Zinc, selenium, Iron, and Vitamin B12. These nutrients are essential in the synthesis of thyroid hormone, the conversion of the less active T4 thyroid hormone to the more active form T3 and the ability of our tissues to respond to thyroid hormone.

Want to restore your thyroid and manage hypothyroidism naturally? Then schedule a naturopathic appointment with Dr Ivy.