By Laurie Steelsmith, ND
Fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, depression, sluggishness, brain fog—do any of those sound familiar? All may be prevalent complaints among women, and yet one of the possible reasons behind them is often overlooked in traditional physical exams: low thyroid hormone.
Known as hypothyroidism, inadequate thyroid hormone can wreak havoc on your health and happiness, creating not just the symptoms listed above but also hair loss, dry skin, joint pain, constipation, reduced immunity, high sensitivity to cold, exacerbated PMS, and migraines. Produced in your thyroid gland—a butterfly-shaped source of immense power that lies just below your Adam’s apple—it’s central to your body, mind, and spirit, helping you generate the drive you need to navigate new challenges, rise above life’s inevitable snags, and achieve your goals. It’s also essential for reaching, and maintaining, optimal body weight, and for feeling younger, vibrant, and whole. In short? Your thyroid gland and the hormone it manufactures is a downright dynamo when it comes to energy production in your body.
It makes sense, then, that a low thyroid hormone can slow the rate of your metabolism and lead to these grievances and others, with untreated conditions potentially contributing to more serious complications such as heart disease and infertility.
With so much at stake, restoring low thyroid hormone to a healthy level can be one of the most significant measures you can take to improve your quality of life, in part because it also plays a critical role in keeping the rest of your hormonal system in its natural, youthful balance.
While a blood test may be in order to check your levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) (and, possibly, commence medical treatment), you can rediscover well-being by becoming proactive about your thyroid health. Proper nutrition—not only in the form of a diet that nourishes your brain, body, and lifestyle, but also one that’s specific to thyroid hormone deficiency—is one of the savviest and most natural routes you can take. Provided your low thyroid hormone status isn’t due to an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease, seaweed and other iodine-rich foods (including strawberries, navy beans, cranberries, yogurt, raw organic cheese, codfish, boiled eggs, and potatoes) can support thyroid health, while Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium, may aid in thyroid hormone production. At the same time, consider limiting your consumption of cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and the like may otherwise be a boon for your health, but they can interfere with thyroid hormones.
Nutritional supplements may help your low thyroid condition as well. Zinc—a mineral that’s key for thyroid health and overall well-being—is required for your body’s production of thyroid hormone, and in turn adequate thyroid hormone is needed for zinc absorption. Iodine is also vital for a healthy thyroid, in that we depend on it to produce T3 and T4—two of the primary hormones created by the thyroid. (Without adequate iodine, you may be susceptible to developing a benign thyroid tumor known as goiter.) The aforementioned selenium, as well as tyrosine—a fundamental amino acid—may also benefit thyroid hormone health.
Equally important is assessing your stress levels and making necessary changes. We thrive on manageable amounts of positive stress, but negative stress, the sort we associate with work demands, family crises, and financial woes, appears to be a factor in some cases of low thyroid hormone. Choosing a less taxing lifestyle—one that honors frequent exercise, fresh air, nurturing relationships, and continued calmness—is, ultimately, one of the most important actions you can take for your thyroid health, and, thus, your well-being as a whole. ?
This article is adapted by the author from Growing Younger Every Day: The Three Essentials Steps for Creating Youthful Hormone Balance At Any Age.
Laurie Steelsmith, ND, Lac, works to educate women toward practices that work with, rather than against, the body’s healing processes. She is the coauthor of Natural Choices for Women’s Health; Great Sex, Naturally; and Growing Younger Every Day, and is medical director of Steelsmith Natural Health Center in Honolulu, and an associate clinical professor at Bastyr University. See more at www.DrSteelsmith.com.
Please visit one of our affiliates, Eidon Ionic Minerals, for more on zinc and other essential mineral formulations.