Natural Solutions to Supporting Your Hashimoto’s
A few blogs ago we discussed Thyroid Health 101 – we discussed what is the thyroid, what is hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism and the autoimmune diseases that are associated with thyroid issues (Hashi’s & Graves).
In this part 2 I want to discuss holistic steps we can take to support our thyroid (whether we are dealing with Hashimoto’s or Graves Disease).
At SHE Talks Health we take a whole woman approach to supporting the female body, regardless of the diagnosis in front of us. This means that we look at all the factors that influence a woman’s thyroid. I always say, your thyroid didn’t just decide to stop working one day, there can be triggers (many of which we discussed in Part 1) such as gut dysfunction causing malabsorption, lack of essential thyroid nutrients, environmental exposure’s to chemicals and pesticides that disrupt thyroid function, heavy metal accumulation, mental and emotional stressors and toxic infections and pathogens like mold, bacteria and parasites.
Using a whole woman approach that’s all about removing stressors & building the body up is the only way to systematically support thyroid function.
Let’s start with Hashimoto’s first line of defense – food!
Focusing on whole and nutrient dense foods is ESSENTIAL as a first line support for our thyroid health. The thyroid actually needs a lot of nutrients, from the production of the thyroid hormone to the conversion of the inactive form (T4) to active form (t3). A SAD diet full of transfats, refined sugars, GMO foods, processed additives and sugars will lead to a lot more than obesity, it can rob the thyroid of the nutrients it needs while simultaneously adding massive inflammatory stress to the body.
Simply moving to a whole foods diet can help. In particular the thyroid and immune system have certain nutrients that really help support it such as Vitamin A, B1, 2 , 6, 12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium, Selenium, Zinc, Iodine, Manganese, Tyrosine and Omega 3 Fatty acids. We can get these from a well rounded diet full of leafy greens, a variety of vegetables, Meat & eggs, Seafood, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Whole Grains, Fermented Foods and herbs. If you need more help on where to look for food ideas, I would highly recommend The Essential Thyroid Cookbook from Lisa Markley & Jill Grunewald.
There are also some foods that we know are problematic for the thyroid such as gluten. Simply put – gluten & thyroid are NOT friends. Gluten and more specifically the protein called Gliadin closely resembles the thyroid gland. And since Gliadin shares a similar molecular structure to many of our own thyroid tissue this can make our body accidentally attack itself rather than the gluten – this is called molecular mimicry. There are MANY studies that show a strong connection between Hashi’s & gluten sensitivity. We also know that gluten causes leaky gut by opening up the tight junctions in the gut lining, and thus setting the stage for autoimmunity.
Dairy is said to be another big dietary triggers for Hashimoto’s. It’s the casein, specifically in dairy that also looks similar to gluten and because of molecular mimicry your body could get confused and think you are eating gluten and trigger an immune reaction. Additionally, many people find cows dairy very inflammatory for their body and feel better without it. I typically recommend an Elimination Protocol and then a reintroduction phase to see what camp you fall into.
The other HUGE part of the puzzle is the support needed to help with healthy thyroid conversion. Let’s explain how this works.
The thyroid gland produces many hormones in order to fuel our body for growth, reproduction and energy. Its job is to absorb iodine & combine it with Tyrosine (an amino acid) . This combination is converted into T3 (active form) and T4 (inactive Form). The majority of this creation is T4, or inactive form. The way that we get to use the active form is through a conversion of T4 to T3. This conversion is critical as T3 is what actually optimizes our brain, bowels, hair, weight, reproduction etc!
This means that when we look at what can we do to support thyroid hormones, we have to look at how can we support the conversion for T4 to T3. We have to consider liver & gut support, the toxic load of pesticides, heavy metals, radiation, gut pathogens and things like fluoride. We also have to consider how a hormone imbalance like estrogen dominance impacts the thyroid & how hormonal birth control slows the thyroid. Finally we must look at the role that mental/emotional stress plays and whether there are any mineral deficiencies like zinc or selenium at play.
Let’s look at a couple of these & give some tips of how to conquer this laundry list! (Remember, this is a WHOLE woman approach)
- LIVER SUPPORT – your liver needs a series of nutrients to help process the large amount of toxins and everything else it’s got on its plate AND 20% of thyroid conversion happens in the liver. Something that can be extremely useful is a supplement or herbs that supports both phase 1 & phase 2 liver detoxification. You can look for things like Milk Thistle or a more complete compound like Veggie Cleanse from Designs for Health. I’m also a huge fan of castor oil packs which is something I teach in my practice. P.S. Supporting your liver helps you detox some of those other triggers like heavy metals, pesticides etc!
- Gut Dysbiosis + Gut Bugs: if you have hashi’s and you haven’t addressed your gut health, STOP, do not pass go, do not collect your $200! We must look at gut health. Dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in bacteria and gut bugs like candida/yeast/parasites etc can wreak havoc on our thyroid. Mostly by causing inflammation but additionally if we don’t have enough of the beneficial gut bacteria then we could have a conversion problem. 20% of the conversion of T4 to T3 happens in the presence of friendly gut bacteria. I wish it was as easy as just taking a probiotic but sometimes its not. However, I will say this pre-biotics & plant fibers are your gut’s best friend so if it’s just that you aren’t getting enough diversity in your diet you can go a LONG way on your own with just fermented foods & prebiotic rich foods.
- Mineral/Nutrient Deficiencies: Most people even as good intentioned as they may be just are not getting enough nutrients to support their body and their thyroids. I would highly recommend doing Mineral testing & also testing some specific nutrients in the blood like Vitamin B12 & Vitamin D. This would allow the practitioner you are working with to create you a custom blend of minerals that should give your body the building blocks it needs to create & convert thyroid hormone! If working with a practitioner is not in your budget right now at the very least eat the rainbow & consider a general purpose multivitamin or beef liver capsules to give you some support.
- Stress – High cortisol is a big contributing factor to Hypothyroidism/Hashimoto’s but we are going to address this on it’s own episode! For now, take my word for it and if you haven’t already start developing some lifestyle tools you really love to help you with your stress.
One note on medication (and we’ll be doing an entire episode on medication options as well) but one thing I see happen a lot is a woman will go to a conventional doctor to be prescribed a T4 only medication like levothyroxine.
But as we’ve just discussed in length some women have trouble with the conversion of T4 to T3 and if that is the person’s main issue (then they could take that medication & not get full success).
This is why we can support our body with diet, lifestyle changes and also by speaking with a provider who may prescribe other thyroid medication if that’s what is necessary for you.
If this is all too much and you just don’t know how you’d do this all on your own, trust me, I understand. I was 22 when I was trying to piece through the thyroid puzzle and that is why I specialize in helping women with Hashimoto’s to feel their absolute best.