Thyroid issues seem to be on the rise and health professionals are looking in different areas for a smoking gun. Some blame gluten (it is not a cause). Some assume everyone has an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, even without a proper diagnosis.
And most approach the thyroid, like it is the problem and therefore giving it some key nutrients will solve the problem.
The issue with all the theories, is a failure to truly understand what affects the thyroid. The truth of the matter is that for most people with thyroid issues, lack of thyroid nutrients is not the problem. Nor is autoimmunity and it is certainly not gluten.
The problem is that too many other systems in the body affect how we produce and use thyroid hormones:
- Excess cortisol from the adrenals can lower thyroid function
- The liver does as well as it helps convert T4 to T3 (our active thyroid hormone) and plays a key role in affecting metabolism
- The gut bacteria also help convert T4 to T3. Gut bacteria also exerts influence on the HPT axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid) which is the main signalling pathway for the production of thyroid hormones
- Excess insulin adversely affects thyroid function again by influencing the HPT axis
The thyroid’s relationship with the liver, the adrenals, the gut and the pancreas is important and these areas must be supported to help the thyroid. This is not usually part of most thyroid protocols and may explain why so many people fail to see an improvement even when they are prescribed thyroid medications.
So what can you do for your thyroid?
Eat thyroid foods such as sea vegetables like nori, kelp, or dulse, seafood and coconut oil.
Eat liver-friendly foods such as kale, broccoli, garlic, onions, apples, beets, lemon, limes, berries and Jerusalem artichokes and regular artichokes.
Consume plenty of fiber, probiotic and prebiotic foods to feed the gut and help it function as its best.
Reduce stress and support the adrenals. Adaptogens such as maca root powder and schizandra powder can be worked into recipes. Ashwaghanda, holy basil or licorice tea can all be consumed throughout the day. Pick the one you like. Also, developing a routine that can reduce stress and allow for proper relaxation is important.
Lowering stress will also help prevent blood sugar swinging up and down and prevent high insulin. Eating small meals throughout day as well as consuming many foods good for the gut, adrenals and liver will all play a role in keeping blood sugar stable.
A good thyroid protocol is not hard to accomplish and it is great that we can eat our way to better thyroid function and hopefully, have some relaxing fun along the way.