DISCLAIMER – I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be. The post below discusses MY personal health and the course of action decided by my doctors and I. Please seek consultation with a trusted medical professional regarding any health issues you may be experiencing.
I thought I would get a little personal today. I have been on thyroid medication since I was 20 years old which means that I am going on 17 years now. My hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) was discovered at the same time my endometriosis was. For years my thyroid had been functioning properly on medication and then as the years went on my medication was slowly and steadily increased as my regular (every 3-6 months) blood tests indicated that I needed more.
For the last three years my thyroid has been indicating that it is absorbing less and less of the medication. We (my doctor and I) finally reached a point where we did not want to increase my medication any further (thyroid medication can increase bone loss).
It was time to investigate every possible reason why my thyroid might be reacting poorly. We needed to figure out what we could do to help my all important thyroid function as well as possible. I have now been following this protocol for the last 3 months and just had my blood re-tested May 7th, so I am very curious to see the results.
The list below is one I compiled from both of my doctor’s recommendations concerning what to AVOID if you are experiencing hypothyroidism.
- Refined Sugars & Grains – Replace with whole grains and whole foods.
- Limit Alcohol - If you must drink (no more than 1 50z. glass per day), red wine is preferred.
- Gluten / Dairy – For those with unexplained or auto-immune related thyroid disease, eliminating gluten and dairy is oftentimes met with good results. According to my doc, “A variety of food antigens could induce antibodies that cross-react with thyroid hormone, particularly during times of stress.”
- Millet - UPDATE…I JUST LEARNED ABOUT THIS FROM A COMMENT ON CRAZY SEXY LIFE. The comment read… ”In listening to a recent podcast with Chris Kresser & Chris Masterjohn, millet was discussed – “the most goitrogenic food in the world is millet, and this could be a problem if people are getting rid of gluten and they start eating a lot of gluten-free bread that’s made from millet, for example. And millet basically inhibits every step of thyroid metabolism, and high iodine intakes cannot overcome the effect of millet.”
- Estrogen Containing Medications – i.e. the pill. These decrease your body’s intake of T-3. Antihistamines and Sulfa drugs aggravate the problem.
- Table Salt - Use unrefined salt i.e. Centic Salt that has naturally occurring minerals. Dulse and kelp powder can be used in place of salt (they are rich in iodine which is good for the thyroid).
- City Tap Water – Most contains fluoride and chlorine which may reduce thyroid function by competing with iodine and blocking iodine receptor sites in the thyroid gland. If possible switch to spring water for cooking and drinking.
- Iron – If you take thyroid medication, AVOID consuming iron 1 hour before and after taking your medication.
- RAW Foods That Prevent the Utilization of Iodine – i.e. turnips, cabbage, mustard, soybean, peanuts, pine nuts, and millet (when cooked these foods are inactivated)
- RAW Goitrogenic Foods* – i.e. soybeans, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower), spinach, kale, peaches, and pears. THESE FOODS MUST BE COOKED to deactivate the goitrogens. *Goitrogenic Foods are naturally occurring substances in some foods that inhibit the fundtioning of the thyroid gland.
Fortunately 1, 2, the dairy portion of 3, 4, and 5 are recommendations I was already following. However, I have been guilty of occasionally cooking with tap water (due to impatience…it takes FOREVER for the reverse osmosis faucet to fill a big pot) and for the last few years I have been consuming a lot of of RAW spinach, kale, and pears as well as lesser amounts of the other goitrogenic foods…they were in regular rotation too. I also have to wonder how much my food allergy to oats and occasional consumption of gluten containing foods contributed to my thyroid not absorbing my medication as it should have???
I have read so many conflicting positions with regards to thyroid health and soy. Some experts say that consumption of soy is fine in any form when you have hypothyroidism and others say that it is fine only when cooked. I have opted to remove soy from my diet for the time being. I am a person that will do all I can to try and assist my body in it’s effort to heal and this seems like the safer choice for the time being. Do I think soy is a “bad” food? No. If I wasn’t experiencing a problem with my thyroid gland I would be consuming soy.
Now onto the positive list…what you can do / add to your diet to assist your body in its quest to heal your thyroid (These recommendations are for HYPOthyroid).
- Exercise - It stimulates the thyroid.
- Supplement with Tyrosine (500-1,000 mg/day) – Tyrosine stimulates the thyroid gland by facilitating the production of Norepinephrine. Tyrosine can also alleviate dry skin and hair loss when caused by hypothyroidism. To be taken on an empty stomach.
- Eat Iodine & Tyrosine Rich Foods - Avocados (not too much, they are high fat), sesame seeds, almonds, apricots, molasses,
oats(I’m allergic), sea vegetables, and cranberries.
- Foods Rich in Vitamin E, Zinc & B12 - Vegan Vitamin E foods – whole grains, nuts and seeds, turnip greens, tomatoes, pine nuts, peanut butter,
wheat germ(I’m avoiding gluten), avocado. Vegan foods high in zinc – toasted wheat germ, sesame seeds & tahini, roasted pumpkin & squash seeds, dried watermelon seeds, dark chocolate & cocoa powder, & peanuts (must be cooked…see above AVOID section). B12 supplementation needed when vegan.
- Eat Carotenoid Rich Foods – Winter squash, carrots, mangoes, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes.
- Eat Vitamin-A Rich Foods & Adequate Omega-3s – Vitamin-A foods are paprika, red pepper, cayenne, chili powder, sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy vegetables, butternut squash, dried herbs, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe. There are vegan Omega-3 supplements available.
- Eat Olives – Olives have shown an enhancing effect on the thyroid. Eat 5-10 olives a day. I have been eating 5/day.
- Eat Organically Grown Unprocessed Fresh Food – Enough said.
- Supplement with Selenium – Conversion of T4 to T3 is dependent upon many nutritional agents, most notably selenium, as well as an overall balanced endocrine system. Vegan Food Sources – Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, bran (
wheat, rice & oat)
This is the protocol I have been following. I am very curious to see how my body has reacted and what my blood tests reveal. I have always felt strongly that it is our responsibility to take care of the body we were gifted with.
While doctors can give us advice, they can’t make the changes for us. I feel very fortunate to have forward thinking doctors that involve me in my health care. I so appreciate that my doctor did not just UP my thyroid medication. She realizes that there are possible changes that can be made and that we should make those changes and follow-up to see the results. She also knows that I am a patient that WILL do EVERYTHING in her power to help my body heal.
Fingers crossed xxxxx
Click HERE to view the post where I updated my progress.
Image courtesy of Flickr‘s The Commons