Unfortunately an underactive or ‘sluggish’ thyroid is a common problem with many of my clients so I thought it would be a good idea to share with you the Body Ecology approach to help kick it back into gear.
So please read on if hypothyroidism concerns you already, or you may just discover you have many of the symptoms below and be prompted to go for a check-up with your GP.
Let’s start with a quick definition of the thyroid gland.
It’s a butterfly-shaped gland which sits at the base of our neck just below our Adam’s apple.
It’s our ‘energy’ gland and keeps all of our systems going – digestion, circulation, immune, hormone and even emotional!
It does this by producing a hormone called T4 - which we then cleverly convert into an active hormone called T3 - so we can then use our food and convert it into energy. Our bodies can do this conversion with the minerals iodine, selenium, zinc and the amino acid tyrosine.
What a vital gland!
Needless to say if this gland goes ‘under’ our body will do the same.
And unfortunately many negative factors can upset our thyroid gland - environmental toxins, poor immunity, malabsorption and other hormonal imbalances are just a few.
A really big negative trigger for our thyroid gland is… you guessed it.. stress!
Stress can upset our thyroid gland in a complex and profound way. And the effects of stress on our thyroid can be long lasting and hinder our ability to cope or recover from trauma.
So when our precious thyroid gland is upset, it can go hypo (underactive) or hyper (overactive): or in some cases both!
In this article we are looking at the underactive or ‘hypo’ thyroid gland – commonly known as hypothyroidism – when our thyroid gland slows right down and doesn’t give our body enough of the essential hormone thyroxin.
Symptoms of a tired, underactive thyroid gland may include:
Slow metabolism (weight gain)
A slow pulse, poor circulation, feeling cold
These symptoms can also really creep up around menopause so watch out ladies! It’s easy to just put it down to getting older or working too hard, so it is worth having a thyroid test with the GP if the above symptoms are present.
To diagnose hypothyroidism a GP tests our blood for levels of T4 hormone and the one we convert from T4 - the T3 hormone.
And without getting too technical, ask your GP to conduct a third test for levels of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which is produced by the pituitary gland. TSH levels are also a good indicator of thyroid imbalance – if this level is high it could indicate that it’s overworking to compensate for our thyroid gland.
If the above tests indicate an imbalance your GP will most likely prescribe a synthetic version of the hormone to compensate for the shortfall.
These test results are also a great tool to help prevent slight hypothyroidism from blowing out to more serious stuff where medication is required – and this is where preventative health shines.
Holistic GPs, Naturopaths or Nutritionists can step in here. If they can see from our tests our levels are slightly low they can recommend a comprehensive protocol of foods and supplements to stimulate thyroxin production and in some cases, even prevent the need for thyroid medication. Generally the minerals iodine, selenium, zinc and liver-supporting herbs, vitamin B complex and homeopathics may be prescribed, to balance the sluggish thyroid.
Note: (The above protocol is only for those who definitely do not have an autoimmune form of hypothyroidism Hashimotos. A different protocol is needed for Hashimotos. Always consult with your GP)
So now I can share the Body Ecology Diet’s answer to a sluggish thyroid gland. Once again, I always ascertain my patient definitely does not have the auto-immune version Hashimotos as I would undertake a different protocol.
So generally in our diet, the thyroid gland responds to a nutrient dense, well combined range of foods. Sometimes I find clients who are under-eating, strictly dieting with unrealistic weight loss goals, over-training or even those who are simply too busy to eat, are really stressing their thyroid gland.
Our thyroid gland needs plenty of well combined, well balanced nutrient rich foods to work well. To give the thyroid gland a kick-start I particularly recommend a balance of iodine-rich foods from ocean plants such as dulse, kombu, nori, agar, arame, hijike and wakame. There are so many wonderful, tasty ways to prepare these fantastic ocean plants – they make a great addition to our diet and combine well with gluten-free grain-like seeds, starches and animal protein. And if you are following the Body Ecology Diet these ocean plants are so versatile for food combining!
For convenience and a real boost I recommend a food product we have at Your Digestion called Ocean Plant Extract. It’s in capsule form and features a potent fully digestible array of minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese selenium and iodine. Selenium, zinc and iodine are vital minerals to convert hormone T4 to the ‘active’ version T3 as I mentioned earlier.
Ocean Plant Extract is sourced from a wild ocean vegetable off the coast of Tasmania. And due to low-temperature processing – the nutrients are still there in abundance for you to absorb.
A fantastic companion to the Ocean Plant Extract is another food product available at Your Digestion called Livamend. I love to recommend this (also in a convenient capsule) as it features liver-cleansing and liver-protecting herbs such as Globe Artichoke and St Mary’s Thistle. Livamend helps cleanse our blood and tissues of toxins and allows our liver to do its job – to transport important hormones around our bloodstream. In this case it’s to help our body transport the important thyroid hormone and thyroid stimulating hormone.
To help rebalance your thyroid with our Combo Buy it’s vital to consult your GP and relevant health professionals first!
*This combo buy does not include $12 freight throughout Australia.