How To Heal Your Thyroid Naturally
How To Heal Your Thyroid Naturally

How To Heal Your Thyroid Naturally

From weight gain to exhaustion, anxiety and brain fog, thyroid dysfunction causes a wide range of symptoms, which affect more women than men. With everything from stress to a poor diet playing a part, we went to several holistic experts to find out how to get your thyroid back on track…
By Tor West

What The Thyroid Does

“The thyroid is part of your endocrine – i.e. hormonal – system and plays a central role in metabolism and energy production. I often compare it to a car’s engine – it’s integral to every system in the body. But, if we look at things through the lens of women’s health, then the thyroid is most integral to the menstrual cycle. It communicates with sex hormones to promote healthy ovulation and regular cycles.” – Katy Bradbury, registered nurse & nutritional therapist 

“Because the thyroid decides how quickly we convert food into the energy we need to function, its knock-on effects can be wide-ranging. Women are up to eight times more likely than men to experience thyroid problems.” – Natasha Richardson, medical herbalist & founder of Forage Botanicals

The Symptoms

“Because the thyroid is involved in temperature regulating and energy production, low energy, low mood and feeling cold (especially in the hands and feet) are some of the most common symptoms I see related to an underactive thyroid, whereas feeling jittery, anxious and hot can be signs of an overactive thyroid. Similarly, because the thyroid is involved in metabolism, a sluggish thyroid may lead to unexpected weight gain, and when things are overactive, you may experience unexpected weight loss. Irregular menstrual cycles, pregnancy loss, hair thinning and dry skin are among the less common symptoms. Clients with thyroid issues come to me with brain fog, fatigue, heavy or irregular periods, early miscarriages, sleep issues and mood disturbances.” – Katy 

“Common signs of a slow thyroid also include visible swelling of the thyroid gland and slow exercise recovery. In some cases, it feels like your batteries are quite literally depleted. A lack of libido is also a sign. Hoarseness and hair loss are signs of an overactive thyroid.” – Lucia Stansbie, registered nutritional therapist & head of education at The Nutrition Collective

How To Rebalance Your Thyroid

Get Tested

“Subclinical thyroid issues are increasingly common, which means that on a blood test someone’s levels may appear ‘normal’ but, following further testing, you can see quite clearly that something is amiss. If you get your thyroid tested with your GP, they will only test one marker. A full thyroid panel is needed to assess whether there is a problem, and it’s worth asking for a thyroid antibody test, too.” – Phoebe Liebling, nutritional therapist 

Control Stress

“Stress management is vital for thyroid health. When we’re under chronic stress, our adrenal glands send feedback to the brain to suppress thyroid function and block hormones from being made. This is a protective mechanism – essentially, it’s the body’s way of slowing metabolism to conserve energy in times of danger. When thyroid function is suppressed, so is the production of FSH and LH, two key hormones involved in ovulation. In fact, studies show an underactive thyroid is one of the main factors that contributes to infertility. An underactive thyroid will also worsen perimenopausal symptoms. Therefore, the management of stress is key to the health of your menstrual cycle, regardless of whether you want children or not.” – Rhian Stephenson, nutritional therapist & founder of Artah

Seek Out Sea Vegetables

“The thyroid is unable to function optimally without iodine. A decrease in naturally iodine-rich food sources, such as seaweed, has seen iodine deficiency increase over the last ten years. A little goes a long way. If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid problem, add in two to four portions of seafood, dairy products and seaweed (nori flakes are a useful way to incorporate seaweed as are nori wraps) per week.” – Phoebe

Snack On Brazil Nuts

“Brazil nuts are the richest dietary source of selenium, which is essential for thyroid health. Just two Brazil nuts daily will provide your daily intake of selenium.” – Phoebe 

Cut Back On Gluten

“Mainstream medicine hasn’t recognised the benefit of a gluten-free diet in low thyroid conditions. But from a functional medicine perspective, gluten is always something we consider, especially if the thyroid issue is autoimmune in nature. There’s a strong link between gluten intolerance and thyroid issues, so it’s worth trying a gluten elimination diet to see if your symptoms improve.” – Rhian

Optimise Gut Health

“The gut is where nutrients are absorbed, so if gut health is compromised, it could mean the body struggles to absorb essential nutrients. Plus, most of our immune system lies in the gut, so if your gut defences aren’t working properly, inflammation can occur that then throws the thyroid off kilter. The best way to feed a healthy gut microbiome is to eat a diverse range of plant foods in as many different colours of the rainbow as possible. Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi also makes a difference and is arguably more effective than taking a probiotic supplement.” – Katy  

Control Blood Sugar

“As your thyroid is closely linked to your metabolism, getting your blood sugar under control is vital. Plus, imbalanced blood sugar is a key driver of inflammation. Aim for 30-40g of protein per meal and always opt for slow-burning carbs. Starting the day with a savoury breakfast is a good idea – aim for a source of protein alongside two fistfuls of fibrous veg and two tablespoons of healthy fats – and then leave around four hours between meals. If you need a snack, it should be protein or fat based.” – Phoebe  

Concentrate On Nutrient Density

“Focus on consuming high-quality meat, eggs, poultry, fish and dairy on a regular basis. These foods are our most abundant sources of the nutrients we need for targeted thyroid health, as well as optimal wellbeing. These foods also make meals simple: a stir fry with mince, sliced vegetables, ginger, garlic and quinoa is a great meal; or try a speedy three-egg omelette with lots of herbs and cheese. Women tend to look at high-volume, low-calorie meals, but these don’t provide optimal nutrition and won’t satisfy you between meals, leading to grazing, which we want to avoid.” – Phoebe 

Support With Herbs

“Ashwagandha has been shown to support thyroid hormone production, not least because it helps down-regulate our cortisol response. It is especially helpful in the case of an underactive thyroid. Echinacea is also great if there is an immune involvement to the thyroid problem as in Hashimoto’s disease. Bladderwrack can also help balance thyroid function as it’s an excellent source of iodine, while lemon balm is good for an overactive thyroid. Wild Nutrition’s thyroid health supplement is also fantastic. If you want to take herbs, always consult with an expert to ensure you’re taking the right formula for your needs.” – Natasha 

Ignore The Myths

“Kale is commonly cited as a no-go for thyroid health, but it’s fine in moderation, especially as its effects are lessened when it’s lightly cooked. The same goes for soy. For example, if your diet includes daily soy lattes, soy milk on cereal, tofu for lunch and soy mince for dinner, this is very different to just having organic tofu in a stir fry once or twice a week. Remember foods like kale and soy are healthful foods and are part of a healthy diet in moderation.” – Rhian

Take Extra Care If You’re Vegan

“We need the right balance of nutrients to ensure a healthy thyroid. These include protein, which should be eaten at every meal, as well as iron-rich foods like red meat and salmon. Iodine-rich foods are also important – find these in dairy and anything that comes from the sea – as are omega-3-rich foods like salmon, mackerel and sardines. You can quickly see that for people who follow a plant-based or vegan diet, some of these nutrients are at risk of being depleted, so special attention is required to ensure you’re getting enough.” – Katy 

Avoid Caffeine

“Caffeine is not a meal replacement or a snack. It raises insulin and stress levels so stick to one, maximum two, caffeinated beverages per day because you fancy them, not because you need them. If you struggle with anxiety, mood disorders, salt or sugar cravings or energy crashes in the afternoon, avoid caffeine entirely. If you fancy a coffee before breakfast and don’t struggle with these symptoms, have a coffee or matcha with a small amount of MCT oil.” – Phoebe 

Exercise Regularly

“Physical activity enhances metabolism when done consistently. Exercise requires energy and uses stored fat to create energy. In the process, the thyroid produces more hormones to regulate the metabolism. If your thyroid is underactive, hitting the sweet spot with exercise can make all the difference.” – Lucia 

Eat Enough

“Avoid excessive calorie counting and restrictive diets. These are perceived as a stress by the body and trigger the release of cortisol, which slows down thyroid production in a bid to save energy. Instead, focus on quality. Having a balanced, varied diet that provides enough micronutrients is a great start.” – Lucia

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