Thyroid Health 101: Supporting Thyroid Health, Hypothyroidism & Hashimotos
Behold, the power of the thyroid!
There are so many ways this powerhouse of a gland can be negatively impacted. And women see it much more often than men – 8 in 10 thyroid patients are female.
So what exactly does the thyroid do?
✅ Oversees our metabolism
✅ Influences development and long-term strength of:
👉🏼 muscles, body temperature, heart rate, blood flow, and bone strength.
In order for us to have the energy to get through the day, our thyroid needs to be working properly.
While hyperthyroidism is certainly an issue, more women tend to fall on the hypothyroid end of the spectrum (or vacillate between the two).
The big symptoms of hypoythyroidism include:
✨Fatigue or sluggishness
✨Difficulty losing weight
✨Hair loss (including eyebrows)
✨Cold hands and feet
✨Depression and/or anxiety
Please know that you can be hypo even without checking off all these symptoms!
Personally, I’ve never suffered from constipation, have always had low cholesterol, and as long as I eat in the way my body prefers, weight is not an issue. Yet I’ve dealt with subclinical hypothyroidism for years.
Unfortunately, the standard T4 medication prescribed for most women with hypothyroidism often does NOT help.
Why? Well, you could be like me, where my inactive T4 level is just dandy, but my active T3 is low. T4 has to be converted to T3 to be used by the body, so T4 meds ain’t getting you anywhere when there’s a conversion issue.
Or, the problem may be on a cellular level, where the cells aren’t accepting the T3. This is a mitochondrial issue, and won’t be helped with meds.
And did you know that high estrogen levels suppress thyroid function? That means we often have to work on our estrogen levels to help our thyroid.
Supporting Thyroid Function
Let’s begin with the nutrients that are necessary for thyroid function:
✨Iodine – necessary for the production of thyroid hormone
✨Selenium – converts inactive T4 to the active T3
✨Zinc – also part of the T4 to T3 conversion, as well as immunity that protects from autoimmune conditions like Hashimotos
✨Magnesium – stimulates thyroid to produce more T4, as well as plays a role in conversion, and diminishes threat of goiter
✨Tyrosine – forms the backbone of thyroid hormone
Many of us are missing out on adequate levels of several of these nutrients, particularly iodine, selenium, and magnesium. This definitely can play a major role in hypothyroidism.
Other things to note:
✨40% of the conversion from inactive T4 to active T3 happens in the liver, so it’s truly important to have a high-functioning liver for your thyroid to work properly!
✨Your gut oversees about 20% of the conversion, so if you have leaky gut or pathogens, your thyroid function can also be impacted
✨The adrenals and thyroid are intimately connected. If one gets stressed, the function of the other goes down. So be sure to support your adrenals, too.
Okay, let’s talk testing. Many docs will only run TSH, and possibly reflex to T4. This tells us very little, as we want to see how the active Free T3 is doing, and how these numbers work together.
It’s also SUPER important to rule out autoimmune disorders like Hashimotos and Graves (more on those in my next blog post), so checking thyroid antibodies is a big yes.
Here’s your *basic* necessary markers:
👉Thyroid antibodies (TGB and TPO)
Also very helpful for a complete picture is Reverse T3, T3 uptake, Total T4, and Total T3.
Make sure to work with someone who knows how to properly assess these numbers! In my next blog post, I’ll talk thyroid autoimmunity and thyroid/hormone connection.
Thyroid and Autoimmunity
It’s an autoimmune condition where the body produces antibodies that attack and destroy the thyroid gland.
How does it happen? As with all autoimmune disorders, there’s no clear reason why the body starts attacking itself.
Some possible reasons include:
✅ Viral infections
✅ Gluten intolerance or Celiac
How is it diagnosed?
✨ There are two antibody tests that can indicate Hashimotos: thyroid peroxidase and thyroglobulin antibody.
👉Work on healing leaky gut. Our immune system begins and ends in the gut, and bringing down inflammation is particularly key with autoimmune. For some people, AIP, GAPS, or low-FODMAP works wonders. I also recommend a food sensitivities test like the MRT to determine your specific sensitivities. Also make sure to take something that will help heal and seal the gut lining.
👉Test for underlying pathogen issues. You can’t heal the gut if dysbiosis is at play. Thyroid expert Dr. Izabella Wentz notes that with Hashimotos, she takes the approach of “guilty until proven innocent” when it comes to parasites.
👉Regulate stress, and that includes not overdoing workouts. Intense exercise can exacerbate autoimmune conditions. Follow your body’s lead by really listening to it. Set boundaries for yourself and your energy limits.
Though Hashimotos is a long-haul issue, through holistic, supportive approaches, you can bring those antibody numbers down. But I recommend – without a doubt – working with a knowledgeable practitioner to do so.