How to Improve Thyroid Function Naturally
As many of you know, I manage an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis. I haven't given any updates in a long time, mostly because I wanted to move away from talking about it so much but also because the last year has been the hardest year of my life health wise. Things haven't been great and I was managing a number of frustrating symptoms this past year. I started taking thyroid medication last January, and only recently connected the dots and realized it has been making me really sick. Over the course of the last year, I have tried three different medications and each of them gave me terrible symptoms and made my lab results worse than when I wasn't taking any medication. I plan to write a post on why I quit thyroid medication soon, but for now, I wanted to share some of the ways I will be working to improve my thyroid function naturally now that I am medication free. Please know that I am not a doctor and don't pretend to be whatsoever. I am simply sharing my personal experience in managing my Hashimoto's as best I can through dietary and lifestyle management.
DIET // following a strictly gluten-free diet is one of the most important ways in which you can support your thyroid. Please read Chris Kresser's article on the gluten-thyroid connection for more information on why you should ditch gluten immediately if you have a thyroid disorder. However, for many of us, myself included, gluten-free is not enough. Most people with autoimmune conditions also struggle with leaky gut syndrome and a myriad of food intolerances. Ding, ding, ding, that's me! For the first year following my diagnosis, I followed the autoimmune protocol, and I saw major improvements in my health. My labs actually came fully 'into range' and my antibodies decreased over 50% while I followed the protocol. For information on the autoimmune protocol diet, I suggest checking out the awesome Autoimmune Paleo website. Since then, I have implemented a more flexible version of the autoimmune protocol because I have done a lot of gut healing and can tolerate more foods now. I also really focus on many nutrient, dense gut-healing foods like bone broth, slow-cooked meats, leafy greens, healthy fats like coconut oil and fermented foods. I also make sure to get a variety of starchy vegetables into my diet like sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets and so on to support hormone balance and adrenal health. Diet has seriously been a game changer for me in supporting my thyroid. Take a look at my recipe index where you can find a variety of nourishing, allergen-friendly and nutrient-dense recipes.
SUPPLEMENTS // I am the absolute last person on the planet who wants to supplement; seriously, I have some sort of aversion to them, but the truth is, they've helped me to address underlying vitamin and mineral deficiencies—something that can cause low thyroid function. I take the least amount of supplements as possible and am really happy with what I am now taking. I will share what I am taking but please remember that I am not a doctor and do not pretend to be one. These are what I use and you should check with your doctor before using any of these to treat or manage low-thyroid function. With that said, I have found it very beneficial to take: vitamin B complex, vitamin d/k2, probiotics, glutathione cream, selenium, magnesium, methyl-guard plus for MTHFR mutation and a thyroid support complex, which I adore. Yup, it's a lot of supplements. Unfortunately this is what is necessary for my body in order to support my thyroid levels and gut health.
STRESS MANAGEMENT // stress plays a major role in thyroid function. When you are chronically stressed out, whether it is from life circumstances, too much physical activity, not enough sleep, etc. your thyroid take a major hit. For people with a thyroid disorder, stress management is particularly important. For me, simplifying my life, following my passions and engaging in supportive relationships keeps my stress under control.
EXERCISE // while you certainly don't want to under do exercise (movement is CRUCIAL!) you also don't want to over do it. I have found Kayla Istine's BBG workouts to be perfect for me because they are very customizable. I also enjoy running, doing sprints, lifting weights and doing HIIT workouts. Not all in the same day though, of course! If you want to support your thyroid function as best you can, 3 days of short, high-intensity workouts and 3 days of moderate movement has worked best for me. I think exercise is something a lot of people forget in their wellness lifestyle and for managing autoimmunity but it can be incredibly helpful! And remember, exercise = movement. What works for me may not work for you and your body. Gentle yoga, walking and swimming can be gentle and effective ways to move your body and get your lymphatic system flowing.
REST // 8-9 hours of restful sleep, every single night. No questions asked. When you sleep your body repairs itself from the stressers of everyday life. Rest is essential for keeping your hormones in balance and for supporting low thyroid function. Make your rest an absolute priority. Try establishing a routine. I like to go to bed by 10pm and wake up around 7am. I also find that magnesium helps me to get to sleep quickly and to have a deep, restful night of sleep.
DITCH CHEMICALS // thyroid disorders are seriously sensitive to all the toxins present in our hygiene, personal care products and cleaning supplies. I highly recommend you switch your personal care items to non-toxic, natural options. This is the last thing I did but have actually really enjoyed the process of detoxifying my life. Get those hormone disruptors out of your cabinets, off your counter tops and away from your skin!!! Check out this post on natural makeup options!!!
Struggling with low thyroid function? These five things can seriously help you improve your thyroid function naturally!