The Australian Thyroid Foundation cites that more than one million Australians have an undiagnosed thyroid disorder. To the utter frustration of those with thyroid gland issues, it severely impacts metabolism. Common problems are unintended weight gain and weight loss, increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes, all of which can be difficult to rectify.
Most people affected with thyroid disorders struggle with weight gain and have a tough time shedding kilos. That’s where the need for a thyroid-healthy diet and lifestyle comes into play. Naturopathy can be an effective approach to support thyroid health through nutrition. Let’s explore how.
What is Thyroid Disease?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck. The thyroid releases hormones that help control the metabolic functions of our body. Metabolism refers to the process by which food taken into the body is converted into energy needed for the proper functioning of the body.
If the thyroid gland releases too much thyroid hormone, it can lead to hyperthyroidism. If the gland releases too little thyroid hormone, the condition is called hypothyroidism. Both cases are severe and require treatment by healthcare providers.
Naturopathic Treatment for Thyroid Problems
Conventional Treatment for Thyroid Disorders includes medication to control the hormonal imbalance or surgery (in extreme cases), which may have short- or long-term side effects.
Naturopathy is a holistic approach to healthcare that combines modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. Naturopathic doctors treat thyroid problems by physically examining the patient and conducting various diagnostic tests. This helps them identify and address the underlying causes of hormonal imbalance.
After getting to the root of a patient’s thyroid and hormonal imbalance, they recommend natural remedies, including dietary changes, nutritional supplements, and botanical medicines to heal the body and support its healthy functioning.
Nutrition for Thyroid Health
Nutrition plays an essential role in Thyroid health. One of the best ways to maintain the proper functioning of the thyroid gland is through the food you eat. Several components in your diet can help the thyroid gland stay balanced if it is not functioning optimally.
Doctors recommend a heart-healthy diet plan for patients suffering from thyroid problems. The diet should include lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, heart-healthy fats and omega-3s, high-fiber foods, and fluids. Eating appropriate meal portions can also help control or prevent thyroid-related illness.
Nutrient deficiency, as well as excess, can cause or aggravate thyroid symptoms. Working with a naturopathic practitioner is perfect for determining nutritional status for good thyroid health.
Key Nutrients That Benefit Thyroid Health
Iodine: Iodine is an essential nutrient for thyroid functioning – with both iodine deficiency and excess causing significant risks. Iodine deficiency is the main cause of thyroid dysfunction worldwide. The intake of iodized salt, fish, dairy, and grains can address iodine deficiency. But supplemental iodine should be given with caution because it can cause flare-ups in people with Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s, with studies showing over 90% of patients tested deficient.
Hyperthyroidism causes bone loss, which gets aggravated by Vitamin D deficiency. Adequate bone-building nutrients like Vitamin D are essential to regain bone mass.
Sunlight is a significant source of Vitamin D. Foods rich in Vitamin D include fatty fish, milk, dairy, eggs, and mushrooms.
Selenium: Selenium supports effective thyroid synthesis and metabolism and is known to lower thyroid antibody levels in people with Hashimoto’s.
Some selenium-rich foods are Brazil nuts, tuna, crab, and lobster.
Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 helps improve cells’ response to thyroid hormone and causes higher energy production in cells to help ease fatigue and other hypothyroidism-related problems. Rich food sources include salmon, mollusks, sardines, liver, and lean meat.
Zinc: It helps to improve thyroid function and hormone levels. Oysters, pumpkin seeds, and meat are high in zinc.
Goitrogens: Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage naturally release a compound called goitrin, which can affect the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Heating the vegetables destroys most of their potential goitrogenic effect.
Botanical Compounds: Many herbs are known to improve thyroid function. Trained naturopathy practitioners must approve naturopathic treatment recommendations to reduce unwanted side effects, avoid herb interactions, and increase the effectiveness of treatments.
- Ashwagandha – It is known to improve thyroid function in hypothyroid patients. The herb benefits several body functions to help balance impairment and control metabolic processes. However, adaptogens like Ashwagandha must be used cautiously, so they do not stimulate the immune system’s response.
- Gum guggul – It is particularly useful in all cases of hypothyroidism since it helps to convert an inactive form of T4 to the active form of T3.
Consult a Trained Naturopath to Plan the Right Diet Through Naturopathy
A thyroid naturopath can help patients regulate their thyroid functions by creating a personalized diet plan that focuses on the nutrients and minerals that support thyroid health. They will recommend foods that are beneficial for thyroid function while advising against others that can be harmful. Additionally, they may suggest supplements or herbal remedies that can help regulate thyroid hormones.
However, it’s crucial to remember that naturopathy is not a substitute for conventional medical care and should be used in conjunction with the medical management of thyroid disorders.