Do you feel cold easily? Have trouble losing weight even with dieting and exercise? Do you feel tired a lot and find it hard to remember things or concentrate? You may be suffering from a sluggish thyroid gland. Here is some important information everyone should know to avoid the range of health problems an underactive thyroid can cause.
Underactive thyroid glands are very common and often not treated properly.
In her book, “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness”, world renowned thyroid authority, Broda O. Barnes, M.D., Ph.D., says a sluggish thyroid (hypothyroidism) affects 40% of Americans. About 90% of those affected were women between the ages of 30 and 50. An estimated one in 8 women will develop a thyroid condition during her lifetime. There are blood tests to determine if you have hypothyroidism so you would think that it would be easy to diagnose. However, despite this, underactive thyroid problems often go undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. Even with all the miracles of modern technology.
Why is this? Because you can get underactive thyroid symptoms long before an imbalance shows up in your blood tests! This is because your body works to keep blood levels of hormones normal even as parts of your system are failing. Also in this day and age, many medical doctors do not run the full panel of 4 or more thyroid hormone tests. Relying on only one or two markers often misses when some things go wrong.
So what would tip you off that you need your thyroid hormone levels checked in 4 different ways?
Symptoms that give a clue you may suffer from a sluggish thyroid:
- You get hot or cold easily
- Inappropriate weight gain (you are not overeating, eating high calorie foods or being a couch potato)
- Poor memory (you can’t remember what you went into the next room to get)
- You can’t focus or concentrate (you have trouble retaining what you read)
- You feel tired all the time even with adequate sleep and get headaches or migraines
- You have PMS or Depression or Irritability or Anxiety/panic attacks
- Digestive problems, Constipation, Bloating
- Hair loss including the outer edges of your eyebrows and your hair is getting coarse
- Loss of interest in sex
- Dry itchy skin.
Some non-drug Thyroid treatments
If your thyroid doesn’t need medication yet but you have the symptoms, here are some natural non-drug treatments that I have found to be effective for my patients.
Your thyroid needs iodine to make its hormones. Foods that are high in iodine are: kelp, iodized salt, salt water fish and other seafood. Iodine is also found in asparagus, dulse, garlic, lima beans, mushrooms, sesame seeds, summer squash, Swiss chard and turnip greens.
The iodine in the thyroid is attached to an amino acid called L-Tyrosine. (Brain chemicals that regulate your mood and ease depression also need tyrosine). Foods that include Tyrosine are: molasses, egg yolks, parsley, apricots, dates, prunes, fish, chicken, cheeses.
Your liver needs adequate levels of the mineral selenium to properly activate your thyroid hormones: You can take 100 to 200 micrograms per day of selenium in supplement form. Pork, beef, turkey, chicken, fish, shellfish, and eggs, whole grains and Brazil nuts contain high amounts of selenium.
Zinc also plays a role in the conversion of the thyroid hormone T4 to its active form T3. Meats, fish, poultry, nuts, beans and sunflower seeds are high in zinc.
What you should avoid:
You also want to limit intake of things that can block your thyroid hormones from working such as:
- unfiltered tap water (the chlorine and fluoride in tap water block your thyroid gland from using its iodine).
- Bromine is another substance that can interfere with the iodine your thyroid needs. This type of bromine (or also called bromide) is found in some types of baking flour. It is also used in certain soda products, such as Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Sun Drop, Squirt, Fresca, and other citrus-flavored soft drinks. So you want to avoid these.
- There are also a group of vegetables that if you eat large amounts of them raw can block iodine from getting into your thyroid. So, limit eating these veggies RAW! Cook them instead: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnips, mustard greens, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, horseradish, radish. However, these major antioxidant veggies should be OK when cooked.
We can help
If you suspect you have a sluggish thyroid and need help sorting out what to do next, give Dr. Ellen a call at 978-535-6155. We can help with some low-tech ways to determine what might be contributing to your symptoms. Dr. Ellen can help you with communicating with your medical doctor to coordinate tests. Then we can set up ways to use nutrition and chiropractic care to improve your health and thyroid function.