Hypothyroidism Diet + Natural Treatment
Hypothyroidism is a condition related to having an underactive thyroid gland that doesn’t properly make or release thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland normally releases many crucial hormones that travel throughout the bloodstream and reach receptors that are found throughout the whole body, so a disturbance in thyroid function can cause widespread, noticeable health problems.
According to some estimates, 40 percent of the population suffers with some form of low thyroid function. Women, especially older women, are the most susceptible group for developing hypothyroidism. People who are elderly or who have other existing autoimmune diseases – like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and celiac disease, for example – are also at a higher risk.
Some of the most common symptoms of hypothyroidism? Changes to your metabolism, heart function, digestion, energy, appetite, sleep, mood – even the growth of your hair, skin and nails.
Hypothyroidism Diet, Causes and Symptoms
The first step in treatment of hypothyroidism is to eliminate the effects and causes of the thyroid dysfunction, such as inflammation, overuse of medications, nutrient deficiencies, and changes in hormones due to stress. The hypothyroidism diet eliminates foods that can cause inflammation and immune reactions and instead focuses on foods that help heal the GI tract, balance hormones and reduce inflammation.
Before I discuss the natural treatment of hypothyroidism and a hypothyroidism diet, you first must understand both the potential causes of hypothyroidism as well as the symptoms.
9 Potential Causes of Hypothyroidism
1. Inflammatory disorders of the thyroid
The most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed nations is a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This occurs when the thyroid becomes inflamed and is considered to be an autoimmune disorder. When someone has Hashimoto’s, their own body essentially begins to attack itself by producing antibodies that try to destroy the thyroid gland.
Why does this happen? The immune system mistakenly thinks that the thyroid cells are not a part of the body, so it tries to remove them before they can cause damage and illness. The problem is that this causes widespread inflammation, which can result in many different problems. According to Dr. Datis Kharrazian, 90 percent of people with hypothyroidism have Hashimoto’s that inflames the thyroid gland over time, but this isn’t the only cause of hypothyroidism.
2. Poor diet (especially one lacking in iodine and selenium)
A diet low in nutrient-rich foods, especially in iodine and selenium (which are trace minerals crucial for thyroid function), increases the risk for thyroid disorders. The thyroid gland needs both selenium and iodine to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones. And these nutrients also have other protective roles in the body; for example, severe selenium deficiency increases the incidence of thyroiditis because it stops activity of a very powerful antioxidant known as glutathione which normally controls inflammation and fights oxidative stress.
3. Hormone imbalances
In some people,since the pituitary gland makes a hormone called thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that controls the levels of hormones being pumped out of the thyroidm a problem with the pituitary gland can cause changes to thyroid function. However, this is pretty rare; it’s believed to only be the cause in about one in every 100 cases.
4. Gut inflammation (leaky gut syndrome)
An unhealthy gut environment can contribute to nutrient deficiencies and raise autoimmune activity in the body. Gut inflammation can be triggered by food sensitivities or allergies, including those to gluten and dairy. Other causes of a damaged gut are high stress levels, toxin overload from diet and the environment, and bacterial imbalances. When leaky gut occurs, small particles that are normally trapped inside the gut start to leak out into the bloodstream through tiny openings in the gut lining, which creates an autoimmune cascade and a series of negative symptoms.
Although it’s not a very common cause, sometimes newborns are born with a dysfunction of the thyroid gland, a genetic condition called congenital hypothyroidism. Some evidence shows that people are more likely to develop hypothyroidism if they have a close family member with an autoimmune disease. But according to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the likelihood of genetic hypothyroidism is very low and only about one out of every 4,000 newborns is born with a thyroid disorder.
During pregnancy, although it’s not exactly known why, some women begin to produce very high levels of thyroid hormones, followed by a very rapid decline. This condition is known as postpartum thyroiditis. Usually after giving birth the condition goes away with some time.
7. Interactions of certain medications
Use of certain medications can also cause hypothyroidism, especially recovering from cancer treatments, surgery, or taking prescriptions for mental disease or heart disease.
8. High levels of emotional stress
Stress impacts hormones and is known to worsen inflammation. Stress can raise levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which disturbs neurotransmitter function and worsens symptoms of thyroid disease —these include low energy levels, poor mood, low concentration, disturbed appetite and weight gain, and the inability to get good sleep.
9. Inactivity and lack of exercise
Exercise and a healthy diet are important for controlling chronic stress and managing hormone-related neurological function. Research shows that people who regularly exercise usually get better sleep, deal with stress better and usually maintain a healthier weight, too, all of which reduce some of the biggest risk factors and symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.