Feed Your Thyroid
Oct 31, 2019 10:00AM
by Ann Charlotte Valentin
The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of the trachea, just below the larynx. The gland has two wing-shaped lobes connected by an area in the middle called the isthmus. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism and the body’s basic metabolic rate.
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid problem. It occurs when the thyroid is underactive. Many factors are associated with impaired thyroid function, including high stress levels, illness, heavy metal toxicity, impaired liver function, poor nutrition, drug interactions, low-calorie diets, fasting and old age.
Hormones also play a role—estrogen dominance, progesterone deficiency, low DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone), as well as high or low cortisol can contribute to hypothyroidism. When the body experiences stress, the cortisol level increases, as this is the stress hormone in the body allowing you to “flee the tiger,” which then results in a lower thyroid function. Two factors that promote an increase in cortisol are low blood sugar and stress.
Adrenal fatigue, which usually develops after a few years of constant stress, trauma, poor lifestyle or dietary habits, also contributes to hypothyroidism. When the adrenal glands get weak, the body will start to break down, a process called catabolism. As the thyroid controls the metabolic rate, it will slow down this process by being underactive. There are easy saliva tests where you collect saliva in a test tube four times in one day that can show what your cortisol level is throughout the day. If you have low cortisol you most likely have adrenal fatigue, which may then be related to your lower thyroid function.
Some other causes of hypothyroidism include the birth control pill; pregnancy; menopause; injury to the neck; misalignment of cervical vertebrae; food sensitivities; candida; nutritional deficiencies; and medications, such as beta blockers. Cigarette smoke can also play a role as it contains cadmium and thiocyanate, two substances that have a negative effect on the thyroid.
In order for your thyroid to function properly it needs nutrients such as iodine, selenium, zinc, magnesium, manganese, vitamins A, C and E, as well as vitamins B2, B3, B6 and B12. An easy way to get enough iodine is to use small amounts of iodized salt on your foods, and eating just two to three Brazil nuts per day will give you enough selenium. Other foods rich in selenium include tuna, halibut, sardines, ham, shrimp, macaroni, steak, turkey, beef liver and eggs. Foods containing iodine include sea vegetables, such as kelp, dulse, nori and wakame; beans; nuts; spinach; summer squash; onions; turnips; garlic; dairy; and eggs. Warming spices, such as cinnamon, ginger, cayenne and fennel, can also be helpful for the thyroid.
Hypothyroidism is usually treated with medications, but there are also many herbal supplements that can stimulate your thyroid. Examples of herbs that are often used to help treat hypothyroidism are ashwagandha, guggul, ginseng, Olea and Bacopa.
If you think you may have a thyroid problem, it is easy to check your thyroid status with a simple blood test.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Ann Charlotte Valentin, NMD, of Center for Integrative Medicine, at 602-888-2320, or visit DrLotte.com. Valentin has postgraduate education in bioidentical hormones, Koren Specific Technique, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, emotional release technique and BodyTalk. She will be releasing her first book in November, Med School After Menopause, The Journey of My Soul, and also works as an evidential medium and spiritual educator.