What is Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism is a condition that essentially means your thyroid is not making a regular or normal amount of thyroid hormone. The thyroid, a gland located in your neck, is the gland that makes the hormones which control how your body uses energy. When hypothyroidism occurs, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid energy hormones to keep your body running normally or smoothly. This can have an effect on your entire body and make you feel weak, tired, and can also cause you to gain weight, even if you’re eating a healthy amount of food and exercising enough. Hypothyroidism can occur in anyone at any age, and most of its symptoms are relatively treatable when caught early. However, hypothyroidism can cause serious problems if it is not caught early. It is very important to seek medical attention if you believe you may have hypothyroidism or are experiencing its symptoms!
Since the thyroid controls how the body uses energy, a lack of enough thyroid hormones can cause a lot of different symptoms. The following are the most common symptoms that people experience when they have hypothyroidism, when it is in its earlier stages:
Sensitivity: Higher sensitivity to hot and cold weather is common
Constipation: Bowel movements may become difficult or more infrequent
Depression: Depression and negative moods are caused by the lack of thyroid hormones
Fatigue: Weakness and fatigue may be experienced
Thinning hair: Hair may become thin and brittle; fingernails may also become brittle
Weight gain: Unintentional weight gain is one of the most noticeable symptoms of hypothyroidism
Generally, these symptoms are experienced slowly and they will increase in severity over a period of time. The following symptoms are those experienced if hypothyroidism has not been treated, and are considered the ‘later stages’ of hypothyroidism.
Decreased sense of taste and smell: Difficulty smelling and tasting is experienced
Bloated hands, face and feet: Feet, hands and face may become swollen and puffy
Slow/slurred speech: Speech may become difficult or muddled
Hair loss: Hair may begin to fall out, especially in the eyebrow region
High cholesterol: Cholesterol levels rise, which increases the risk of heart attack and stroke
The previous symptoms can become quite serious and lead to fatal complications if left untreated. It is important to seek treatment or medical attention if any of the symptoms listed here are experienced—the sooner you are able to be treated for hypothyroidism, the better chances you have of reversing the symptoms and leading a longer, healthier life.
What causes it?
There are several known ways that people develop hypothyroidism. The most common is a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which causes the immune system to attack thyroid tissues, leading to a lower amount of thyroid hormone in the body. Other conditions which cause the inflammation of the thyroid gland will also contribute to the development of hypothyroidism.
People who have their thyroid gland removed, due to cancer or other disease treatments, are also at a much higher risk for developing hypothyroidism. Radioactive iodine and radiation treatments on the neck can damage the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.
It is believed that certain drugs can cause hypothyroidism, or contribute to a higher risk factor for developing hypothyroidism. These drugs include lithium and amiodarone. Other risk factors include being female—women are more likely to develop hypothyroidism—and being over the age of 50, although people at any age can develop hypothyroidism.
Is there a natural way to treat Hypothyroidism?
It can be possible to treat hypothyroidism naturally – that is, without non-natural medications and replacement drugs which are commonly prescribed by doctors – but it can be difficult and is not always recommended for all cases of hypothyroidism.
One way to treat hypothyroidism naturally is to seek medications which treat the condition, but are “natural” or naturally derived. For example, Armour Thyroid is a drug which is derived from the dried thyroid gland of a pig, making it a naturally-made and not chemically-made drug, clearly though it is not Vegan friendly. Natural thyroid drugs are a natural alternative to synthetic or manmade thyroid drugs, which are the ones typically prescribed to regular physicians.
Some believe that a completely natural approach to hypothyroidism is also possible, depending on each individual case. This natural approach involves a complete dietary, lifestyle and health change that needs to be strictly adhered to for months or even years. If your hypothyroidism is very mild or borderline, you are more likely to benefit from a natural (non-drug) treatment than if your hypothyroidism is moderate or severe.
What about my diet?
For healthy production of thyroid hormone, iodine is one of the key ingredients. Eating foods that are rich in iodine is a practical step to help increase thyroid levels. Selenium, tyrosine and zinc are other trace minerals that can help stimulate thyroid hormone production. The following list of foods is especially good to help maintain a healthy thyroid.
Iodine rich foods: Seaweed, salt water fish
Protein rich foods: Beans and lean meats
Foods containing selenium: Brazil nuts, onion , tomato, salmon, brown rice
Tyrosine rich foods: Chicken, turkey, lentils, wheat, and seaweed
Foods rich in zinc: Sesame seeds, tahini, wheat germ and oysters
Most Fresh vegetables: Bell peppers, carrots and squash
Most Fresh and dried fruits
Lowfat Yogurt for balancing intestinal flora
Low fat milk
Herbal tea or green tea
Coconut oil (take in moderate amount)
Drink plenty of water! Water helps dilute waste, fats and toxins in your body.
Do a cleanse on a fairly regular basis, this is a very gentle and easy cleanse to follow:
Happy Body Cleanse
Are there any foods I should avoid?
According to health professionals, particular foods adversely affect the health of thyroid gland as well as, in the absorption of thyroid hormone medications. Taking these factors into consideration, a patient should follow an elimination diet for hypothyroidism, without the triggering foods. People with hypothyroidism should avoid taking:
Pears and peaches
Walnuts and peanuts
Some vegetables: lima beans, sweet potato, spinach
Brassica vegetables: Cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale
Tofu based foods
Linseed and cottonseed meal
Refined or white sugar
Sugar substitutes (diet soda)
Caffeine (tea and coffee)
Excess salt or sodium intake
All tobacco products
In addition to these food items, nutritional supplements and over the counter medications are associated with decreased effect of hypothyroidism medication. Supplements for iron and calcium are not recommended for individuals with hypothyroidism. Precaution should be taken while using antacids, as well as cholesterol lowering drugs and ulcer medicines. The very best way is to speak with a trusted health care professional and talk about the appropriate therapeutic medicine that will not affect hypothyroidism condition.