Three Things You Can do NOW to Help Balance Your Thyroid
By Gia McCloskey-Jurevich, NP
When I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, I was shocked. I was 30-years old, and otherwise very healthy. I wanted to know WHY I got this disease. And more importantly, WHAT should I be doing to help my body heal. My doctors did not have an acceptable answer, I was simply told that it “just happens”.
I was prescribed thyroid replacement medication and sent on my way. I had my thyroid labs checked a couple of times a year and my dose was adjusted accordingly. Many years later, after I had learned about Functional Medicine, I realized that I may not get the answer to why I developed hypothyroidism but there were so many things I could be doing to support my body and help my thyroid. I was eventually diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, an auto-immune thyroid disease, which makes the lifestyle interventions even more important.
Through my degree in nursing, training in Functional Medicine AND a whole lot of personal experience I have learned that traditional medicine does not dig deep enough to really understand and address the issues of Hypothyroidism. I hope that my training and experience can help you find solutions for your situation.
Here are three factors within your control that affect thyroid health:
- Chronic Stress
Thyroid Factor #1. Food:
Nutrition is the cornerstone of health. We are all told to “eat healthy” but what does that mean? There is a lot of conflicting advice about nutrition. The options are endless, low carb, low fat, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, keto. Each camp touts its health benefits. However, there is not ONE diet that is good for EVERY person. Science and medicine have confirmed some general rules that apply to all of us including avoidance of: sugar, processed foods, fast food, and “bad” oils.
For people who have hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s, there are other factors that can make a big difference. We have our thyroid patients follow an elimination diet for a minimum of 6 weeks. In addition to the getting rid of the above foods, we also recommend they remove gluten, dairy, corn, and, in many cases other foods such as soy, lectins, nuts, seeds, eggs, and some spices.
We recommend this because these are common foods people are sensitive to and can contribute to inflammation, gut dysbiosis and permeability, aka “leaky gut” and immune dysfunction. In addition to removing these potentially harmful foods, we focus on getting all the good stuff in. This includes a variety of vegetables, healthy proteins, and good fats to give our bodies the nutrients it needs to function properly and heal.
Thyroid Factor #2. Chronic Stress:
Chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Cortisol, our stress hormone, becomes elevated with chronic stress. Stress may exacerbate an underlying thyroid condition. Under stress, your body releases cortisol. Excess cortisol can interfere with thyroid hormone production, leading to low levels of T4 and T3 and an elevated TSH. And, of course, when you’re not feeling well, your stress goes up and this cycle can make things even worse.
“Also, when stressed, you’re more vulnerable to autoimmune thyroid conditions (eg, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). A 2004 study in the journal Thyroid found that stress is one of the environmental factors for thyroid autoimmunity.1”
One of the benefits you will find in working with the team at Omnia Health is that in addition to our medical team we have health coaches that can work with you to design customized stress-reducing programs to help you to break these cycles.
Here are Three Ways to Combat Stress:
- Develop a consistent exercise routine that includes cardiovascular activity and resistance training.
- Find a stress-reduction practice that works for you. This may include yoga, meditation, mindfulness, or an activity such as gardening, knitting, or hiking that requires presence and focus.
- Get adequate sleep. The goal is at least 7-8 hours a night.
Thyroid Factor #3. Toxins:
Finally, take a look at what toxins you may be exposed to. Most of us don’t realize how many toxins we’re exposed to on a daily basis that can impact our health over time. Toxins can interfere with proper function of our entire endocrine system. The endocrine system consists of the glands and the various hormones they produce. These include our stress hormones such as cortisol, our sex hormones including estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and our thyroid hormones.
These hormones are in constant communication with each other. An imbalance in one, can trigger abnormalities in the others. Unfortunately, toxins are abundantly present in our lives. However, there is a lot we can do to minimize our exposure.
Here are a few ways you can reduce your exposure to toxins:
- Buy organic produce and avoid processed foods.
- Check your home and personal care products and avoid those that contain substances such as triclosans, parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate, formaldehyde, and fluoride. For more comprehensive information, visit the EWG.org to find the cleanest household and personal care products.
- Avoid hot drinks or food from paper, plastic, or styrofoam containers since these can all leach toxins.
- Drink plenty of water. The goal is at least half of your body weight in ounces.
- Consume foods that act as antioxidants including berries, broccoli, spinach, kale, beets, and green tea.
Functional medicine addresses the underlying triggers of disease. Lifestyle factors including nutrition, stress, sleep, and toxins play a vital role in health. If you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s it is important that you see your doctor regularly to make sure your thyroid levels are optimal. Yet, there Is so much more you can do to optimize your health. The above recommendations will benefit you whether you have a chronic illness or just want to optimize your health.
We have a team of people to help you through the challenges of Hypothyroidism. You can see our physician, nurse practitioner and/or our health coaches to get the support you need. Whatever struggles you are facing, it’s important to know that you are not alone.
I have a lot of personal experience on this topic and I would love to assist you in addressing this complex illness. Feel free to schedule a 15-minute complimentary phone call with me at your convenience. Click here to schedule a call.
- Mizokami, T., Wu Li, A., El-Kaissi, S., & Wall, J. R. (2004). Stress and Thyroid Autoimmunity. Thyroid, 14(12), 1047–1055. https://doi.org/10.1089/thy.2004.14.1047
- Vojdani, A., Pollard, K. M., & Campbell, A. W. (2014). Environmental Triggers and Autoimmunity. Autoimmune Diseases, 2014, 1–2. https://doi.org/10.1155/2014/798029
- Schnedi W, Lackner S, Enko D, Schenk M, Mangge H, Holasek S. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: people without celiac disease avoiding gluten-is it due to histamine intolerance?. Inflammation Research. 2017. doi:10.1007/s00011-017-1117-4.
- Leccioli V, Oliveri M, Romeo M, Berretta M, Rossi P. A New Proposal for the Pathogenic Mechanism of Non-Coeliac/Non-Allergic Gluten/Wheat Sensitivity: Piecing Together the Puzzle of Recent Scientific Evidence. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1203. doi:10.3390/nu9111203.
Primary Care Plus Introduction
Watch this brief Primary Care Plus overview video with Denver’s Omnia Health Founder, Dr. Jacqui Pariset.
Functional Medicine Meets Primary Care – Watch her Story…
Denver patient, Bethy M. describes how her symptoms have reduced and in some cases faded away as a result of a functional medicine approach she discovered at Omnia Health in Denver, Co.