Thyroid health is my area of expertise and something I am passionate about, especially because there are so many natural and drug free strategies we can implement to improve your thyroid balance. Below I have outlined my most important tips for a healthy thyroid:
Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with numerous autoimmune diseases, one of which is thyroid conditions. Vitamin D has an important role in balancing the Th1 and Th2 arms of the immune system and has been shown to benefit autoimmune-mediated thyroid dysfunction. Vitamin D deficiency can be due to many reasons though is very common in people with leaky Gut and an inflamed GI tract (which most people with low thyroid function have). Other causes are obesity, not eating enough good quality fats, and pharmaceutical drugs such as antacids, replacement hormones and corticosteroids. Since the sunshine is our best source of Vitamin D, 15 minutes exposure daily in midday sun is essential!
This mineral is required for healthy function of the thyroid gland. Not only does the antioxidant effect protect the thyroid gland from free radicals the conversion of the thyroid hormones T4 to T3 is dependent on this mineral. Selenium deficiency is hard to detect via blood tests as most is found in the tissue, though you can expect if your thyroid is under functioning that you are low in selenium. Selenium is found in abundance in brazil nuts, seafood, sunflower seeds, meat and mushrooms.
Is an essential component of the thyroid hormone T3 and T4 and is required for human growth and development. Iodine deficiency prevents the formation and production of these hormones which leads to low thyroid function. Iodine is found in non-farmed seafood, and seaweed such as arame, wakame and dulse (found in most health food stores). NOTE: if you have an overactive thyroid (graves disease or hyperthyroid) it is advised to avoid foods containing high amounts of iodine.
Another really important mineral that is required for healthy thyroid function is Zinc. Zinc is used in over 300 pathways within the body and is crucial for other important minerals to be absorbed. Zinc has been found to be low in people with goitre’s (an enlarged thyroid). We can test your zinc status with a simple in clinic zinc tally test. The best food sources for zinc are oysters, seafood, meat, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cocoa (or good quality dark chocolate) and mushrooms
Fluoride is an endocrine disrupter that can alter normal endocrine function and effect the health of not only your thyroid function but your other endocrine glands such as adrenal glands and pituitary glands. Over exposure to fluoride in our tap water has also been found to decrease our absorption of iodine and also has an inhibitory effect on the thyroid gland directly. You can reduce your exposure to fluoride by drinking filtered water that removes fluoride and by buying flouride free toothpaste (from your health food store). Fluoride is a difficult mineral to remove from your tap water though there are two recognised ways; specialised filter media and reverse osmosis. Speak to your local filter specialist about changing over to filtered water.
Smoking has a significant impact on thyroid function. Thiocyanate (a major component of smoke) leads to an increased excretion of iodine, inhibits iodine uptake by the thyroid and inhibits thyroid hormone synthesis. The toxic effect that smoking has on the thyroid gland seems to become apparent when thyroid function is slightly compromised. Avoid smoking if you have any thyroid insufficiency.
Taking these steps listed above is a great way to start improving your thyroid health, but if you would like a more detailed and personalised thyroid health plan please come to see me for an appointment.