Hypothyroidism is the slacker – an under-active thyroid, leads to symptoms as diverse as depression, hair loss, weight gain, dry skin, and feeling cold and continually tired.
Hyperthyroidism is the over-worker – an overactive thyroid, can make you lose weight and feel nervous, anxious, warm, and constantly hungry.
Of the two thyroid diseases, hypothyroidism effects more people than hyperthyroidism. Whichever thyroid problem you have, you should make sure and incorporate healthy food choices and high-quality supplements. If you have a mild thyroid problem, usually nutritional changes will correct it. If you have a more severe case, and you follow a few simple guidelines, such as taking your medication and eating a healthy diet, you can live an active, normal life.
On this page we are mainly going to address the most common one, Hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones which upsets the normal balance of chemical reactions in your body. Symptoms of hypothyroidism, such as fatigue and sluggishness, are usually not even noticed and some simply attribute these symptom to just getting older. But as your metabolism continues to slow, you begin to develop more obvious symptoms.
Women, especially those older than age 50, are more likely to have hypothyroidism. It seldom causes symptoms in the early stages, but, over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Hypothyroidism causes a general slowing down of your body’s functions. Here are some common symptoms
- Weight gain and inability to loose it
- Feeling the cold easily
- Pale, dry skin
- A puffy face
- Thinning hair
- Brittle nails
- Hoarse voice
- An elevated blood cholesterol level
- Unexplained weight gain
- Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
- Memory and concentration issues
- Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
- Muscle weakness
- Heavier than normal menstrual periods
Diagnosis can be done through monitoring the levels of TSH and thyroid hormones in your blood and is usually confirmed by the presence of particular antibodies in your blood. Hypothyroidism is usually treated with a thyroxine replacement medicine, called levothyroxine. Your doctor will most likely start you on a lower does and monitor your levels and adjust accordingly. Of course, with most medications come side effects. Our goal here at Little Choices Matter is to help you incorporate a healthy diet to not only help with the symptoms, but to strive to not have to be so dependant on medications. Although medications can help to some degree by providing hormones to the body, none of them actually restore thyroid function. If you make changes in your diet to help correct the thyroid problem, you can live an active, normal life.
Many with hypothyroidism are under eating because the thyroid is so slow and you gain weight quickly on eating normal amounts of food. This is not a healthy approach. Let’s talk about some ways to incorporate healthy choices so you are able to eat more and maintain a healthy weight.
Changing your diet may not sound appealing, but after a few days you will begin to feel better and this noticeable change is encouraging. These changes will easily become part of your every day healthy lifestyle. There are a number of things you can do to improve your thyroid gland’s health. Before discontinuing your medication, always check with your doctor. You can incorporate some of the following diet adjustments and continue to consult with your doctor to monitor your medication and thyroid levels.
Here’s a start to a healthier thyroid!
- We suggest you begin your better thyroid health journey with a heavy metal detox. Detoxing the body is a very healthy cleansing process which remove impurities and bad toxins within our bodies. Many who do a detox system notice a difference in energy levels, mind clarity and weight loss. Read more about detoxing here. (link to detox page). Once you have flushed your system of harmful toxins, your healthy food choices don’t have to compete with the toxins and you begin to noticed improved thyroid health.
- Eat plenty of vegetables. Eat at least 4 cups per day, but make sure they are a variety of colored vegetables. (link to colored foods post). Make sure you check the foods to avoid below.
- Eat at least 20 grams of protein per meal. Avoid soy and if possible pork. (link to soy and pork pages). Getting enough protein because a low thyroid keeps you from benefiting fully from any protein you consume.
- Have at 2-3 servings of healthy fats per day. Avocado, nuts, seeds, healthy oils. We recommend coconut oil daily (see below).
- Be moderate in the amounts of fruit you consume. Keep it to 1-2 servings per day (link to food guide)
- Consume whole grains every day. Eat 1-2 servings. Quinoa, Brown or wild rice, barley, oats, etc.
Juicing (link to juicing page) is a great way to get in all your needed fruits and vegetables. Here are a few blend that are great for hypothyroid sufferers. (See recipes here – link to juicing category)
You will also want to consume an abundance of iodine-rich foods. Iodine is the most unique and important among minerals as is essential ingredient in hormones. It actually acts on the hormones of the thyroid gland, which controls the body’s activity rate, growth and development, progress and the healthiness of skin and hair.
Iodine Rich Foods
- Fish – wild salmon, halibut, sole, sardines
- Eggs – cage free, hormone free
- Sea vegetables – in particular, kelp
- Celtic sea salt
Now that we have discussed the healthy choices to put into your body for thyroid health, lets talk about what not to consume.
First on the list is harmful oils. Avoid all vegetable, peanut, rapeseed or soybean oil. (link to oil and cooking with oil pages) Always review ingredients on processed foods and if you see these oils on the list, don’t buy them. Most salad dressings an mayonnaise contain these harmful polyunsaturated oils. Healthy choice salad dressings including our Sassy Vinaigrette and Heavenly Ranch, are found here (link to spice page – dressings).
A number of health professionals now recommend that we consume 3-4 Tbsp of Virgin Coconut Oil daily. (link to coconut oil page) There are a number of ways you can consume coconut oil. (link to Take 1 Tip Video). Many experience increased energy, weight loss and over all improved thyroid health.
We also suggest you stay away from goitrogens when you are trying to improve your thyroid health. Once you have achieved optimal health, you can slowly reintroduce these foods, if desired. Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine absorption, which can cause an enlargement of the thyroid.
These foods include:
- Bamboo shoots
- Brussels sprouts
- Brussels sprouts
- Collard greens
- Mustard greens
- Pine nuts
- Soybeans (including tofu, soy flour, soy lecithin)
- Sweet Potatoes
It is important to avoid all soy products. Even a little can powerfully suppress your thyroid function and lower your metabolic rate.
You also want to avoid foods that are taxing to the thyroid gland. Unfortunately many of these foods are foods that many Americans consume every day. Refined grains, sugars and caffeine are all very taxing on our bodies, especially the thyroid gland. You will find refined grains and sugar in most processed foods and restaurants. The American lifestyle is such that everything is quick and easy so we consume a lot of packaged foods and eat foods cooked with unhealthy oils. It may very well be the reason why thyroid issues as well as other diseases are on the rise. But with healthy choices, you can enjoy all the foods you love on a daily basis.
Let’s start with refined grains. If you are a bread eater you know all to well how much you would hate to remove it from your diet. We suggest you choose spouted breads, bagels, muffins etc., that are on the market today. (link to healthy choices).
Foods that are taxing to thyroid
Fructose (added, not natural as found in fruits)
Brown Rice Syrup
Limit exposure to fluoride and mercury. Some tuna is high in mercury so stick to smaller cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, sole, sardines and halibut. Drink plenty of filtered/purified water.
Although we believe that a healthy diet is essential for thyroid health, some consider taking supplements that are known to contribute to thyroid health. Unfortunately we live in a society where we expect a single pill or supplement to perform miracles, when realistically correcting a thyroid issue does not happen with one pill, nor will it happen overnight. Here is a list of supplements that are known to promote thyroid health.
- Vitamin B’s
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A – Cod Liver Oil
L-tyrosine is an amino that the thyroid uses to make all of its hormones. It is the source of adrenaline, testosterone and our natural caffeine. Taking this will help eliminate the cravings for sugar or caffeine.