The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located just below the "Adam’s Apple" at the base of the neck. And its primary purpose is to produce hormones that regulate the body's metabolic rate, nervous system, heart, muscle and digestive function.
Even though it weighs less than an ounce, your Thyroid greatly impacts your overall health because of the role it plays in hormonal function and its ability to carry nutrients to the cells.
Fast Fact: Studies show that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with thyroid problems as men, and in most cases, women over the age of 50 are at greatest risk.
There are two main Thyroid conditions that are diagnosed by the health care industry:
Hypothyroidism - this refers to an "underactive thyroid" and is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones to support vital body processes;
Hyperthyroidism - the term given to an "overactive thyroid"; whereby the thyroid gland makes more thyroid hormones than your body actually needs.
Treatment for hypothyroidism generally involves prescription medication to replace the missing thyroid hormones, however these medications often lead to long term dependancy and side-effects and they do little to address the underlying cause.
Hyperthyroidism is usually treated with radioactive iodine, because the thyroid is dependant on iodine to effectively function.
Both of these solutions are less than ideal if you want to heal and restore your thyroid and avoid ongoing symptoms.
Here we outline how the thyroid works, the most common signs of thyroid problems and natural self care remedies that can help support a healthy thyroid.
In addition, we share with you, nature's number one whole food that is especially designed to deliver the right nutrients to an upset thyroid.
How the Thyroid Gland Works
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce, store and release hormones into the bloodstream which are transported to the body's cells.
A healthy thyroid controls important bodily functions such as:
- Heart Rate
- Nervous System
- Body Weight
- Body Temperature
- Sleep/Wake Cycle
The thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods you eat to make two main hormones:
- Triiodothyronine (T3)
- Thyroxine (T4)
For optimum thyroid function, it is important that the T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low. Two glands in the brain, the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland communicate with each other to release a hormone known as, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), which helps to ensure that T3 and T4 are in the right balance.
This system works well when all of the body's systems are functioning optimally, however other stimulus can upset this process over time and distance.
What Are The Symptoms Of Thyroid Dysfunction?
Usually a result of chronic stress, poor diet or gut health issues, the most common symptoms of thyroid dysfunction include:
- Rapid changes to appetite
- Emotional extremes, including constant anxiety
- Fatigue and muscular weakness
- Menstrual problems and irregularities
- Erratic behaviour and irritability
- Shakiness and Tremors
- Heart palpitations and arrhythmias
- Increased blood pressure
Natural Remedies For Thyroid Dysfunction
1. Avoid Processed & Refined Grains
One of the most important factors in managing thyroid dysfunction is diet.
Processed and refined grains such as white flour, white bread, white rice, white pasta, packaged cereals, cookies, cakes and biscuits, all contribute to inflammation in the lining of the gut which disrupts metabolism, hormonal balance and thyroid function. Refined grains that contain gluten are also usually processed with bromide, which displaces iodine, a vital mineral that balances the thyroid.
Be sure to enjoy whole grains in their natural form which have not been heavily processed or refined, including:
- Organic Flour
- Organic Wild Rice
- Homemade Wholegrain Muesli
Wholegrain Breads (Stone ground)
Provided you choose whole unrefined grain foods, you don't necessarily have to go gluten-free, however if you do have a history of gluten-intolerance and you have tried wholegrain versions of your favourite foods, it's best to choose gluten-free grains such as Quinoa, Oats and Buckwheat.
2. Avoid Processed Sugar
3. Eat Foods Rich in Iodine
A healthy functioning Thyroid, largely depends on a good supply of iodine in the diet. Rather than choose products that have been chemically infused with iodine, such as Iodized Salt, obtaining your iodine sources from wholefood has a far more beneficial impact on thyroid function.
Great food sources of iodine and beneficial Thryoid nutrients include:
- Sea vegetables including; kombu, kelp, wakame and nori
- Raw Organic Dairy Products e.g. Raw Milk, Yogurt, Cheeses
- Organic Free-Range Eggs
- Lima Beans
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Sesame Seeds
- Pulse Raw Food
4. Fermented Pro-Biotic Rich Foods
As we've already mentioned, a healthy gut microbiome plays a crucial role in regulating your thyroid hormones. Fermented foods deliver beneficial probiotics into the gut, which helps to cultivate good bacteria, supporting your immune system and healthy thyroid function.
Some of the best fermented foods to include into your diet on a regular basis include:
- Organic Dairy products such as plain cultured yogurt, kefir and white cheeses (without gelatin or animal-rennet)
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Kombucha...and even preservative and additive-free beer and wine.
5. Manage Stress
Because it impacts your nervous system which is dependant on healthy thyroid function, it's important to avoid and manage stress as much as you can.
Daily self care practices for even a 20-30 minutes such as these can be very helpful for helping to restore balance to the Thyroid:
- Epsom salt baths with essential oils
- Walks on the beach or in nature
- Playing the Carillon Healing Bowl...or any activity which helps to bring you back to centre.
6. Low Impact Exercise
Moderate, low impact exercise can be very beneficial in maintaining and restoring thyroid health because it doesn't place unnecessary stress on the muscles and joints.
Also, exercise is crucial for a healthy metabolism, boosting feel-good hormones, supporting digestion, cardiovascular health and fuelling your energy - all of which can be suppressed if you have lazy habits, rely on medications and don't make changes to your lifestyle.
Easy, low impact exercises you should practice daily or at least 3-4 times per week include:
- Walking outdoors
- Yoga or Tai Chi
- Swimming or Water Aerobics
- Light weight training or Calisthenics (Exercises using only bodyweight)
Acupuncture is a well known ancient remedy that helps stimulate and co-ordinate the energy pathways that flow through the body.
Because the thyroid is interconnected with so many important body functions, Acupuncture can be very effective in helping to restore thyroid function. Even the World Health Organisation recommends Acupuncture as a treatment for thyroid dysfunction.
Commonly, it is recommended to start with 1-2 acupuncture sessions per week, and then as you go along, ease out to 1 treatment every 1-2 months and adjust your visits as you notice the benefits.
Nature's Most Overlooked Thyroid Health Food
Though it is often overlooked, mushrooms are one nature's most powerful thyroid healing foods. They contain one of the highest incidences of phytalitic (plant form) iodine; and they have a signature pattern (shape) that virtually mirrors the anatomical structure of the thyroid.
Once you understand the wisdom of whole food signatures and how mother nature provides all of the nutrients we need in the form of plant foods that closely resemble specific parts of human anatomy, you intuitively start to notice which foods can target different aspects of health and healing.
To support thyroid restoration and health, try eating 1 cup of mushrooms every single day for up to 90 days.
They can be any type; Button, Swiss Brown, Portobello, Shitake...eat them raw, in salads, soups, stir fried or any way you like. If everyday is too much, then just be sure to include a good supply of fresh mushrooms into your diet, in a variety of types, at least 2-3 times per week.
The Main Take Away
The thyroid is a vital piece of the anatomy that controls so many important functions that determine your energy, vitality and overall health.
For this reason, symptoms of thyroid dysfunction can be quite extensive and this is why Thyroid medication is one of the most over prescribed drugs by the health care industry.
If you have thyroid problems or symptoms of this condition, there are natural ways you can support health and healing if you embrace the 7 principles of health (Air, Water, Sunshine, Walking, Wholefoods, Non-Toxic Relationships & Passion) and by practicing a more conscious diet and lifestyle on a consistent basis.
Don't let your Thyroid dysfunction rule your life. You can have a big say in the matter, by following along with the natural solutions we've shared with you here.
Tolman Self Care.