The thyroid is the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. As part of the endocrine system, it produces thyroid hormones that regulate your body's energy use, along with many other essential functions.
When your thyroid hormone production drops, your body processes slow down and change, affecting virtually every system in your body. Undiagnosed thyroid disease puts patients at risk for other ailments, such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.
Ahead, the first three steps you can take to alleviate hypothyroid symptoms.
Consider thyroid hormone replacement medication
It's an important first step to find a doctor who specializes in thyroid health to receive a correct diagnosis and personalized treatment plan. Many doctors only look at the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). Still, we believe it's important also to measure free T3, free T4, and TPO antibodies to get a full understanding of your thyroid function.
With a proper diagnosis, your doctor will be able to determine if thyroid medication is appropriate for your condition - including which kind and what dosage.
In a healthy thyroid gland, the inactive T4 hormone is released into circulation and then converted by the body into the active T3 hormone. Often, treatment for thyroid replacement starts with T4-only formulations, assuming that the body can successfully do the conversion on its own.
If your body has a hard time converting T4 to T3, or you take an interfering medication, standard T4 medicines may not be sufficient for you. For the few patients who do not feel completely normal taking a synthetic preparation of T4 alone, the addition of T3 may be of benefit.
T4/T3 combination therapies
Those who are interested in a more natural approach may prefer combination therapies. There are two main types of combination thyroid medications - desiccated and compounded. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) derives from the dried (desiccated) thyroid glands of pigs or cows. It provides T3, T4, and other thyroid hormones found in the human thyroid. Compounded medications are custom-made to provide the strength and T4:T3 ration that a patient needs.
Taking oral medication restores adequate thyroid hormone levels, reversing the signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism. Treatment with thyroid hormone replacement medication will likely be lifelong, so it's important to measure your levels yearly to determine if a dosage change is needed.
Determine the best diet for your health
Unfortunately, there is no perfect diet for hypothyroidism, just as there is no perfect diet for every human being. While we all need the same basic ingredients to sustain our bodies, the necessary amount, and form that those ingredients come in vary person by person. Determining the best diet for you can be an excellent tool to gain control of your hypothyroid symptoms.
Each of us is unique with individual sensitivities. Depending on the make-up of the microbiome in our digestive tract, as well as our genetic material, particular food can be sources of healing or stress. You may find that your body responds particularly well to one diet or another; or you may need to make modifications to make an eating method work for you. Generally, we encourage eating whole, unprocessed foods, and lean protein.
Identify your dietary triggers
Work with a thyroid nutritionist to identify your unique sensitivities to certain foods, micronutrients, food additives, or chemicals. Removing these triggers from your diet will alleviate gastrointestinal permeability, chronic inflammation, and possibly even thyroid antibodies.
Add healing, nutrient-rich foods
Some foods have restorative nutrients that can help improve thyroid function, including zinc, selenium, omega-3's, and iodine.
Repair with supplementation
Vital nutrients drive thyroid hormone production. Work with a nutritionist to determine how to supplement nutrient deficiencies to improve thyroid symptoms or support thyroid medication absorption.
Water is the principal chemical in the human body. It accounts for over 60% of our body weight. Unless you have a condition that requires limiting fluid intakes such as heart or kidney failure, focus on drinking plenty of water.
Heal intestinal permeability
Chronic stress, poor diet, and environmental toxins abound. Many people with hypothyroidism suffer from intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut. In this condition, tiny toxins, antigens, and bacteria enter the bloodstream through the compromised intestinal lining, causing inflammation in the body and possibly leading to autoimmune conditions.
Hashimoto's thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. This condition causes the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. Many people with hypothyroidism aren't even aware that they have Hashimoto's disease because many times, they don't receive proper testing. Obtaining an accurate diagnosis is vital to healing.
As particles enter the bloodstream through a leaky gut, antibodies mobilize to attack the foreign cells. Many of these "foreign invaders" can look similar to your body's cells. In the process of fighting off these foreign particles, antibodies may accidentally attack the thyroid.
Leaky gut causes acute inflammation in the body, which is one of the common symptoms of Hashimoto's, as the immune system is continually reacting to the toxins that have entered the bloodstream.
Some symptoms of chronic inflammation may include:
- Joint pain and stiffness
- Digestive issues
- Increased belly fat
- Chronic sinus headaches
Healing from leaky gut involves taking a careful look at your diet, reducing inflammation, and addressing vitamin deficiencies.
A note from Paloma Health
We want you to feel at your absolute best. Our specialists explore all possible treatment options based on your symptoms, history, and lab results. They work with you closely to find the optimal functioning of your thyroid.