The thyroid gland is located in the front of the neck. Its function is to produce hormones that are indispensable for the proper growth and functioning of the organism. An alteration of this gland can lead to a generalized imbalance of the human body.
In this context, one of the common diseases nowadays is hypothyroidism. This disease is caused by the decrease of the thyroid hormones and their effects at the tissue level. According to some estimates, at least 40% of the population suffers from hypothyroidism. In addition, the prevalence is higher in women, in the elderly, or in people with autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, etc.).
In this article I will address the causes and symptoms of this disease. I will also recommend a proper diet and natural treatments.
What causes hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism can be caused by direct thyroid (primary hypothyroidism), pituitary (secondary hypothyroidism) or hypothalamic (tertiary hypothyroidism) causes. However, in the following list I mention what are the most common causes that produce it:
- Inflammatory thyroid disorders: is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in developed countries. This condition is called Hashimoto’s Disease. In this case an abnormal reaction of the immune system occurs, where the body itself begins to attack the thyroid gland, causing inflammation and diminished function.
- Micronutrient (especially iodine and selenium) deficiency: A diet low in iodine and selenium increases the risk of thyroid gland disorders and may cause hypothyroidism. These micronutrients are needed to produce adequate levels of thyroid hormones.
- Intestinal inflammation: A damaged intestinal mucosa can contribute to nutrient deficiencies. In addition, it can increase the body’s autoimmune activity. Intestinal inflammation can be caused by a variety of causes: sensitivity to some foods, food allergies, glucose intolerance, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, toxin overload, high levels of stress, etc.
- Genetic predisposition: Although not a common cause of hypothyroidism, newborns may have a genetic disease called congenital hypothyroidism. In addition, some tests indicate that people who have a close family member with an autoimmune disease are more likely to develop hypothyroidism. However, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the likelihood of genetic hypothyroidism is very low. Only about one in 4,000 newborns is born with a thyroid disorder.
- Drug Side Effects: Some medications can cause hypothyroidism. It can happen if you are on a treatment to recover from the cancer, after surgery or if you are taking medications prescribed for mental or heart disease.
- High levels of emotional stress: Mental stress directly affects the functioning of your body. These levels can produce hormonal balance or worsen inflammation. Stress raises cortisol and adrenaline levels, which worsens the symptoms of hypothyroidism; Discouragement, decreased concentration, altered appetite, weight gain, and insomnia.
- Sedentary: Performing physical activity and exercises regularly represents multiple benefits for your health. Research shows that people who exercise usually have better sleep, less stress, more encouragement and better control of their weight.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
The thyroid gland plays a very important role in the body. Your dysfunction may end up affecting many body processes.
Within the perceptible effects of hypothyroidism are mood swings and decreased metabolism. This results in a significant increase in your weight, since you are not burning enough calories. In addition, your mood will be strongly altered because it is very sensitive to hormonal changes. It is possible not only to develop discouragement but also depression, insomnia, anxiety and low immunity.
Some of the most common warning signs of hypothyroidism include:
- Fatigue and weakness.
- Weight gain.
- Intolerance to persistent cold.
- Muscle aches and tension.
- Stiffness and swelling in the joints.
- Hair loss.
- Dry skin.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Changes in the menstrual cycle and heavy menstrual periods.
- Frequent colds.
These symptoms are common for many diseases and it is easy to confuse them with hypothyroidism. To leave doubts I recommend that you visit your doctor, who will do a blood test to observe the levels of the hormones T4 (thyroxine) and THS (thyroid stimulating hormone). If these values are altered, you will be diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Diet for Hypothyroidism: Foods That You Must Include
Feeding is fundamental in hypothyroidism. Excluding some foods or incorporating others will be key to curing this disease more quickly.
Here are some foods that you should incorporate into your diet if you have hypothyroidism:
These provide omega 3 fatty acids EPA / DHA, essential for hormone balance and thyroid gland function. These fatty acids are frequently used in heart health, inflammatory processes and neurological function. In the case of hypothyroidism, it will help you to decrease inflammation. To mention some of the fish rich in omega 3 we have sardines, salmon, mackerel, etc.
This oil provides medium chain fatty acids (TCMs) that are good for your metabolism, your energy levels, to combat tiredness and fatigue. In addition, MCTs are easily digested, have antibacterial, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties that will contribute to the reduction of inflammation.
Many of the products found in the sea are natural sources of iodine. Seaweed is no exception. These foods help prevent the deficiencies of this mineral. You can find them in the market or in natural supplements.
Flax, hemp and chia seeds provide ALA, a type of omega 3 fat that is crucial to maintaining hormone balance and thyroid function. As I said before, proper levels of healthy fats in your diet contribute to the treatment of hypothyroidism, improve your mood, your brain function and helps reduce inflammation. Eating this type of fats also stabilizes blood sugar levels. In addition, they can help maintain a healthy weight.
Foods rich in fiber
If you have hypothyroidism, you may have digestive difficulties such as constipation. To avoid this, I recommend that you consume between 30 and 40 grams of fiber per day. In addition, consuming fiber balances sugar levels, improves the health of your heart and contributes to maintaining a healthy weight. Foods rich in fiber are whole grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables
Rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are necessary for the fight against free radicals and reducing inflammation. You should include fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. They are essential in a healthy diet and will help you prevent various diseases like a hormonal imbalance. In addition, they contribute to the functioning of your digestive system, your brain function, the health of your heart, etc.
Diet for Hypothyroidism: Foods to Exclude
Just as there are foods that help you fight hypothyroidism, there are others that should be avoided or decreased. In the following list I name you what foods you should take with caution:
In this group of foods we find cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, brúcelas and soy. These foods are considered generators of goiter (which is an enlargement of the thyroid gland). In addition, it can adversely affect the health of your thyroid if you are susceptible or have an iodine deficiency. To avoid this negative effect, I recommend that you cook these vegetables steamed for 30 minutes and consume moderate amounts of no more than 1 cup a day.
This water contains fluorine and chlorine in different amounts, depending on the country or city where you live. Both minerals inhibit iodine absorption. Usually this should not be a major problem, however, I recommend you boil the water, with the aim of reducing the amount of minerals it contains.
Many people with thyroid problems are also sensitive to gluten or have celiac disease (an autoimmune disease that results in a gluten allergy). Gluten is found in all wheat, rye, oat and barley products, these cereals are widely used by the food industries for various purposes. For this I recommend that you carefully read the labels and ingredients. The idea is that you prefer those gluten-free products. In addition, there is a large population that is not diagnosed with this disease because they do not present symptoms. However, with a more detailed analysis one can observe an inflammation of the intestinal mucosa and nutritional deficiencies due to the decrease of nutrient absorption surface.
Sugar can alter the hormonal balance needed for metabolism. People with thyroid problems have difficulty losing weight due to the hormonal imbalances produced by hypothyroidism. To prevent this side effect from being maximized, I recommend that you eliminate sugar consumption. In addition, you must carry a healthy diet and practice physical activities.
6 natural remedies to reduce or eliminate hypothyroidism
It is an herb that helps your body respond to stress by keeping your hormone levels in balance. Ashwagandha reduces cortisol levels and contributes to T4 balance. According to a 8-week clinical trial of people who had hypothyroidism supplemented with ashwagandha, it showed that thyroxine hormone levels increased significantly. This reduced the severity of the disease. Doses 500 mg daily.
Studies show that even small amounts of iodine (250 micrograms) cause mild but significant changes in thyroid hormone function. Generally, a varied diet meets the daily needs of this micronutrient. If you want to consume some iodine supplement, I do not recommend it for Hashimoto’s disease since hyperthyroidism could occur. Do not hesitate to consult your doctor. Dosage 150 to 300 mg daily.
The thyroid is the gland with the highest selenium content in the body. In people with Hashimoto’s disease and in pregnant women with thyroid disorders, selenium supplementation decreases the levels of anti-thyroid antibodies. This treatment improves the structure of the thyroid gland. Dosage 200 mg daily.
L-tyrosine is an amino acid used in the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Thyroxine (T4) is naturally produced from the iodination of tyrosine, a nonessential amino acid obtained from dietary sources and also synthesized by the body itself. According to various studies, l-tyrosine is beneficial in curing thyroid symptoms. This is because this amino acid plays a role in the production of melatonin, dopamine and noradrenaline, all hormones that allow us to have a sense of well-being and encouragement. Dosage 500 mg twice daily.
I already mentioned before you the importance of the essential fatty acids for the correct functioning of the organism and the thyroid. However, these can not only be obtained from food. You can buy an EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acid supplement to get all the benefits of these healthy fats. Dosage 1,000 mg daily.
Vitamin B12 Supplements
This vitamin is obtained from a varied diet and is derived mainly from foods of animal origin. If you are vegetarian or your daily food does not include many products of animal origin Do not worry !. There are supplements of this vitamin, whose importance lies in the maintenance of nerve cells, decreased fatigue, prevention of anemia, improved mood, etc.
Essential oils to contribute to the treatment of hypothyroidism
We have already mentioned the natural treatments for hypothyroidism. Now you can supplement them with essential oils that are ideal for thyroid function and symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
- Combine three drops of incense oil, 5 drops of lemon grass oil and 5 drops of clove oil. Rub this mixture directly onto the thyroid gland. You can also try putting two drops of incense oil on the palate twice a day.
- Similarly, make a mixture of 2 to 4 drops of lemon grass oil and myrrh. Apply on the thyroid massaging gently.
- To combat muscle or joint pain, try a relaxing bath. Use geranium, clove, myrrh and lemon grass oils.
- To combat fatigue, make a combination of mint oils plus a citrus oil like lemon and / or grapefruit.
- To improve your mood and reduce anxiety or irritability, use chamomile oil, incense and lavender oil. You can use it as a flavoring or in a bath of tub.
If you present some of the symptoms mentioned in this article, I recommend that you visit your doctor to confirm or rule out hypothyroidism. As I told you earlier, these symptoms are common for many medical conditions.
If you are diagnosed with this disease, you will be prescribed special medications to treat hypothyroidism. Remember that you can complement our natural recommendations. The idea is that the healing process is faster and more effective.