In my post: “The Thyroid Tests Your Doctor Is Missing”, we went into detail on the silent epidemic of underdiagnosed hypothyroidism/underactive thyroid conditions, including:
- The little-known symptoms and why women are more at risk
- Why the gold-standard thyroid test is often hopelessly inaccurate
- Why “normal” test results don’t necessarily mean you have a “normal” or “optimally-functioning” thyroid
- Which 6 thyroid lab tests everyone must insist on for an accurate diagnosis
- The causes and long-term consequences of hypothyroidism
If you’re just joining us, welcome! And I suggest you hop over and read that post before diving into this one.
If you’re already up-to-date, welcome back! I hope last week’s post offered a shot-in-the-arm of encouragement and maybe even got you into your doctor’s office to ask for those 6 MEGA important lab tests.
Remember, even just a couple of those little annoying symptoms like low energy, moodiness, or thinning hair, can be a sign of hypothyroidism so it’s best to get checked out sooner than later.
As promised, today we’re going to cover how you can heal hypothyroidism using natural remedies such as foods, supplements, and lifestyle changes.
The Food-Gut-Thyroid Connection
Last week I mentioned food sensitivities as a causal factor of hypothyroidism…
…but let’s back up.
What exactly are food sensitivities and what causes them in the first place?
A food sensitivity is an inflammatory response to certain foods.
It can be subtle, like feeling low on energy after eating a big bowl of pasta, or more noticeable like painful gas or bloating after eating dairy.
They’re not full-blown allergies, but if not addressed they will take a toll on your whole health—including your thyroid.
So what causes food sensitivities in the first place?
Some are genetic.
For example, people with a long genetic history of cattle running, such as those of Nordic decent, are much more likely to tolerate dairy products than those of Asian or African decent, where dairy consumption is a fairly new phenomenon.1
But, more often than not, food sensitivities stem from: Leaky Gut Syndrome AKA a intestinal hyper permeability.
Leaky Gut is very common and can be caused by any of the following:
- Over-use of antibiotics and/or NSAIDS
- Chronic stress
- Genetic predispositions
- Poor diet including too much processed food, sugar, and possibly gluten and casein
- Environmental toxins
- An imbalance of gut bacteria due to ultra-sterile environments
- Undetected co-infections
The thing is, when you have leaky gut your intestinal wall—the fortress of your immune system, is, quite literally, full of holes.
This opens up your immunity to a host of foreign invaders, including partially digested foods (remember up to 85% of your immune system is in your gut) resulting in:
- Greater sensitivity to certain foods
- AND a constant low-grade inflammation which ultimately leads to autoimmune disease, aka: hypothyroidism.
Bottom line: if your immune system is compromised by leaky gut that goes untreated, eventually autoimmune disease will result.
7 foods to avoid while dealing with thyroid issues
If your doctor has confirmed you have an underactive thyroid, you can help heal your gut and your thyroid by avoiding these 7 trigger foods:
- Gluten—for some reason this protein just wreaks HAVOC on underactive thyroids and leaky guts. I suggest you avoid it altogether until you’re fully healed.
- Grains—for some patients, eliminating gluten isn’t enough and they have to cut back or eliminate grains ti save their digestive health. Although this can seem overwhelming, it’s really not that difficult (especially after you experience how much better you feel). To start, try cutting back to 2 servings or gluten-free grains a day, then 1, then none.
- Sugar—sugar wreaks havoc on your gut-bacteria balance and fuels inflammation. I suggest switching to Stevia or using a little raw honey (1 teaspoon a day) if you need something sweet.
- Raw cruciferous vegetables—cruciferous veggies are incredibly nutritious detoxification powerhouses. BUT, in their raw state they contain a certain chemical that can inhibit proper thyroid function. Instead enjoy them cooked.
- Dairy—pasteurized dairy products tend to be a health disaster for MOST people. You may be able to tolerate raw dairy, goat or sheep’s milk, but best to try eliminating all of it for 4 weeks to be sure.
- Processed foods—because most of them are full of gluten, grains, sugar, dairy, and hormone-disrupting seed oils.
- Alcohol—sad to say, alcohol causes inflammation and taxes the liver which is just no good for anyone with thyroid hormonal imbalances.
7 foods to support your thyroid (eat these…not those!)
- Healthy fats—fats are essential to healthy hormone production. I encourage my thyroid patients to eat liberally of coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and pasture-raised butter. If you’re eliminating or reducing grains, coconut flour is an awesome grain-alternative that also provides healthy fat.
- Grain-free noodles—I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world without noodles! When going grain-free you can buy a cheap spiralizer and turn organic zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, etc. into super tasty veggie noodles. Shirataki miracle noodles (soy-free), or kelp noodles are another great grain-free choice.
- Sea vegetables—a rich, natural source of iodine and other thyroid-loving trace minerals. The kelp noodles offer a great source.
- Chia seeds—a rich source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation, heal your gut, and balance hormones.
- Fruits and Vegetables—eating a rainbow of fresh fruits and vegetables will ensure your body gets plenty of gut-healing prebiotic fiber and nutrients as it recovers from leaky gut and/or thyroid imbalance. I suggest you aim for a minimum of 7 servings a day (10 would be ideal), preferably 70% vegetables. Choose organic whenever you can.
- Cultured foods—yogurt, kim chi, saurkraut, kombucha, anything cultured or “soured” will provide natural probiotics to help nourish your gut-thyroid balance.
- Kombucha—did I say this twice? The reason is gut-healthy kombucha makes an awesome substitute for alcoholic beverages. Its naturally-occurring theanine, feel-good cultures, and teeny bit of alcohol from the fermentation process will leave you feeling relaxed, happy, and healthy.
- A little healthy chocolate—yes, you read right. Since chocolate has been proven to help reduce stress AND make women so very happy (-: you’re free to indulge in a little stevia-sweetened chocolate. Lily’s chocolate bars and chips are available at most natural foods stores and are totally delicious. Keep it to 2 ounces a day please.
*Thrive Market is an excellent source for grain-free foods at 25-50% off.
What about supplements?
Yes! Certain supplements and homeopathics are incredibly helpful in speeding up the healing process.
We’ll go into those specifics in an upcoming article.
1: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH “Lactose Intolerance”. http://www.ecnb.org/pdf/lactoseintolerance.pdf