An under-active thyroid may be the reason why you have difficulty getting up in the morning and staying awake afterwards. Lack of energy, irritability, aches and pains in the joints, and feeling cold all the time are the most common symptoms.
If you are overweight, you might be blaming your general sluggishness on the pounds you have piled on over the years. But your obesity itself may be resulting from thyroid hormone deficiency. If your energy level is too low, making you feel as if you have suddenly become old, it could be due to hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism can result from iodine efficiency, auto-immune disease or age-related decline of hormone production. Thyroid testing may not always reflect your thyroid status, as the testing is done on your blood while the deficiency may be on a cellular level. When one of the most commonly prescribed thyroid tests, TSH, comes out negative, your physician may write off the possibility, and skip other tests such as T3 and T4.
However, if your doctor ran all the thyroid tests and the thyroid antibody test, too, it could be beneficial. If that is not possible, self-testing can be done. Record your waking-up body temperature every day for two weeks. If the average is below 98 degrees F, you may be having thyroid deficiency.
Whatever the reason, and irrespective of a negative diagnosis by the doctor, if you are experiencing at least a few of the typical symptoms, it doesn’t hurt to try these natural ways to boost your thyroid function. The result will speak for itself if you have undiagnosed hypothyroidism.
Thyroid deficiency due to low iodine
1. Increase iodine intake.
The most common reason for thyroid deficiency is insufficiency of iodine. This element is essential in the production of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland. Its deficiency causes the disease goiter, characterized by the enlargement of the thyroid gland at the base of your neck. Hoarse voice, coughs, and if it becomes too large, difficulty in breathing and swallowing food are the other symptoms.
Soil in most areas contains sufficient amounts of iodine, and it reaches us through our food and water. If you are living in an iodine-deficient area, you could be lacking in this vital element. The use of iodized table salt may solve the problem. But if you are on a low-sodium diet that restricts the use of table salt, you may not be getting enough iodine. Including lots of seafood in the diet could be a remedy.
2. Avoid goitrogenic foods.
The enzymes present in certain foods prevent the formation of the thyroid hormone as they interfere with the integration of iodine. Vegetables belonging to the Cruciferous family are at the top of the list. Cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, horseradish, cress, arugula, radish and turnip are all in it. While these are all excellent antioxidant foods known to have several important benefits for our health — including anti-cancer properties — they should be restricted to occasional use if you have goiter. Isoflavones in soy act as iodine blockers. Go easy on pine nuts, peanuts and almonds, as well as peaches and pears. Canola or rapeseed oil also should be avoided.
3. Change the medication.
Drugs such as corticosteroids, antihistamine, analgesics and lithium are known to cause iodine deficiency. If a medication is making you drowsy, it may be causing hypothyroidism. Your doctor may be able to change it and offer alternatives.
Thyroid deficiency due to Hashimoto’s disease
Named after a Dr. Hashimoto, this autoimmune condition keeps shifting between symptoms of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism initially. But as the antibodies produced by the body inflame the thyroid gland, and eventually destroy it, it will end up as hypothyroidism. If you are diagnosed with this condition, you may need a different approach to boost your thyroid function.
1. Reduce iodine intake.
Since iodine intolerance may be the cause of this autoimmune condition, reducing its intake may actually benefit those who have Hashimoto’s disease. Iodine’s adverse reaction against the enzyme thyroid peroxidase (TPO) is cited as the reason for this iodine intolerance. Removing all supplemental iodine may bring about a drastic improvement in the condition.
2. Increase selenium intake.
Including selenium-rich foods in the diet has been shown to relieve Hashimoto’s, as the action of iodine is mellowed by this mineral. Fish, chicken, mushrooms, sunflower oil and brown rice are good sources of selenium.
3. Follow an autoimmune diet.
Inflammation of the tissues is widely believed to be the trigger of autoimmune conditions. Hence, diets aimed at lowering inflammation may help reduce Hashimoto’s. Avoid dairy products; vegetables of the nightshade family such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers; soy products; and grains containing gluten.
4. Include probiotics.
Even though the exact reason of autoimmune diseases are not known, sufficient amounts of beneficial gut flora are known to prevent them. Probiotics create a suitable environment in the intestines so that the microorganisms can flourish there.
5. Exercise and good sleep.
Many autoimmune diseases are triggered by, or aggravated by, a lack of sleep. Keeping regular sleeping hours and following a sleep ritual may help you to get sufficient sleep and rest, besides preventing flare-ups.
Thyroid deficiency due to aging
This is an often overlooked and under-diagnosed form of hypothyroidism. Many physicians write it off as part of the natural aging process. But if you feel it to be premature aging, it is up to you to take control of the management.
1. Include coconut oil in the diet.
Coconut oil with its medium-chain fatty acids and lauric acid is thyroid friendly. It has the additional benefit of retarding neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging, and may contribute to the health of the pituitary gland that controls the thyroid gland.
2. Stay active.
Easier said than done! Exercise and physical activities can be quite a drag, especially when you have the additional burden of hypothyroidism that makes your system sluggish. But forcing yourself to take daily walks to participate in other activities will keep the blood and lymph circulation going.
3. Increase vitamin intake.
Lack of vitamin C causes stress to the adrenal gland, which in turn affects thyroid production. Vitamin D is essential for moving the thyroid hormone into the cells. While dietary inputs can take care of vitamin C deficiency, the body normally develops vitamin D in the presence of sunlight. If going out in the sun is not an option, supplementation may be necessary.
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