Hypothyroidism is a significant problem, 12% of U.S. adults will develop this. This isn’t counting the many more patients who have the symptoms (fatigue, constipation, thinning hair, weak reflexes, cold hands and feet) but not the lab values necessary for diagnosis. This is the problem with treating lab values instead of people. Below are some daily activities you can start right now to help improve the function of your thyroid.
End your showers with cold water aimed at your thyroid for ~30 seconds (throat/base of front of neck). This improves blood flow to the area, which will help deliver more nutrients for proper thyroid function (selenium, zinc, iodine, tyrosine, etc.). Think of the thyroid as the body’s thermostat, which can increase body temperature by stimulating metabolism. A good way to track thyroid function is taking your temperature upon waking. Hydrotherapy also stimulates the body’s metabolism. The threat of cold makes the body self-heat itself.
Along the same lines, daily mindful thyroid massage may help increase the blood flow and therefore function of the thyroid. Add in some jamaican black castor oil to really improve the blood flow.
3. Setting your thermostat to a few degrees cooler during the winter
We live in a world with indoor climate controlled environments. These first world amenities take the function out of our internal thermostat – the thyroid! It makes sense if you take the job away from the thyroid, then it will become underactive. If your thermostat is set 1-2 degrees lower than what you are used to, then the thyroid should start working harder again, which may mean fuller hair, less constipation, better blood flow, among reversal of other hypothyroid symptoms. Also, setting your nightly temperature to 65 degrees Fahrenheit has been shown to support weight loss!
4. Gluten-free and other dietary recommendations
A portion of patients with hypothyroidism is because of an autoimmune disease known as Hashimoto’s Autoimmune Thyroiditis. This is when the body’s immune system becomes confused and attacks its own thyroid gland. There is a correlation between a gluten-free diet and a reduction in laboratory markers (Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody and Anti-Thyroidperoxidase) used to diagnose Hashimotos. Afterall, many autoimmune diseases improve when an anti-inflammatory diet is implemented.
Yes, there is an issue with too much kale. Raw cruciferous vegetables, at high dose, servings can act as goitrogens. Thyroid goiters, are visible protrusions from the thyroid. Goiters can interrupt thyroid function.
Make sure to get some iodine in your life if you are not using iodized salt. Add seaweed to your grocery list 1 week per month.
Cheat days are OKAY. If you are on a reduced caloric diet, shocking your diet once every 2 weeks with excess calories will spike cyclic AMP (cAMP) which improves active thyroid hormone levels. This partially explains the correlation between anorexia (a lack of sufficient calories) and hypothyroidism.
We’ve discussed blood flow and temperature regulation already. Exercise stimulates both of these! Moderate Regular Physical Activity (RPA) is defined as 3+ days a week of 30-45 minutes of exercise at 50-70% of your heart rate maximum (HRmax= 220-age). RPA has been proven to decrease the incidence of all chronic diseases.