Your Plan Of Acton: The Natural Approach To Thyroid Problems
Test for thyroid function including T3 and also antibodies and find out which approach is best for you
Use nutritional support and an anti-inflammatory diet to reduce thyroid antibodies and possibly slow the progression of the condition
Talk to one of our nutritionists about whether a gluten-free diet is useful and how to adopt this diet safely without compromising your nutrition
If your condition is not autoimmune in nature, find out if a nutritional deficiency may be the cause. You can then rectify the deficiency and support your thyroid function
What Is A Thyroid Problem?
The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system and is responsible for controlling the metabolic rate (or pace) of all the processes in the body. If there is a deficiency of circulating thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), every function of your body tends to slow down. Conversely if there is over production of thyroid hormones, the metabolic rate speeds up.
Hypothyroidism (under active) which is much more common in women than men, usually occurs in later life with many women being diagnosed in their thirties and beyond. This may be as a result of various hormonal upheavals such as pregnancy. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by a dysfunction of the hypothalamus (part of the brain) or the pituitary gland, both of which are involved in the control of the thyroid gland. Hypothyroidism can also be caused by a lack of dietary iodine or other supporting nutrients. These are simply the raw materials that your thyroid needs to make hormones and to do its job. Without them, the thyroid gland may slow down and not function adequately.
Hyperthyroidism (overactive) is most commonly caused by an autoimmune disease known as Graves’ disease. Hyperthyroidism may be hereditary, caused by emotional stress or unknown factors.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism (under active) and hyperthyroidism (overactive) may seem like opposites of each other, but in reality, a number of symptoms cross over and different sets of symptoms manifest in different individuals.
We have often seen the hypothyroid patient who cannot put on weight so do not feel as though your symptoms have to define you. It is also worth mentioning that these symptoms have a lot of cross over with other conditions and imbalances. If you have a thyroid condition and are still feeling very poorly, it might be that good nutrition can help. It might also mean there is more than one thing going on for you.
TSH is the hormone produced by the pituitary gland that helps control the thyroid gland. TSH prompts your thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormones and usually increases when T3 and T4 levels drop
T4 is the major hormone produced by the thyroid gland and a synthetic form of this hormone is provided by the medication levothyroxine. T3 is the more active hormone and conversion from T4 to T3 is important to measure. T3 is not usually tested on the NHS and we can organise this for you, it is important to know whether your T3 level is good. Even if you are taking levothyroxine you may not be converting enough into T3 and still feel tired and are overweight.
We can also measure reverse T3 (rT3) which is not metabolically active. There may be an increase in rT3 during conditions of stress.
Thyroid antibodies (anti-thyroglobulin and anti-thyroid peroxidase) are found in autoimmune thyroiditis, the most common forms of hypo- or hyperthyroidism (Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease). It is important to differentiate between autoimmune thyroid conditions and non-autoimmune as the nutritional approach is quite different. In addition, if you already have thyroid antibodies, even though your thyroid hormones are currently in the normal range, this can indicate an increased risk of developing a thyroid condition in the near future.
If you take steps to reduce your antibodies, it may slow the progression of the condition. We can measure your thyroid antibodies if these have not already been tested.
Can Nutrition Help With Thyroid Problems?
We adopt a number of approaches to support a reduction in thyroid antibodies, including nutritional approaches to calming the immune system. An anti-inflammatory diet includes more omega-3 rich fish and less red meat and processed foods. We also use medicinal mushrooms as they have very powerful immune modulating effects.
If the cause of thyroid dysfunction is a nutritional deficiency, identifying and rectifying this deficiency can restore function. It is very important not to over-supplement without testing as this can seriously affect your thyroid function.
Gluten may also be an issue for you. Antibodies against gluten have been shown to cross-react with thyroid tissue and a gluten-free diet has been shown to reduce thyroid antibodies. Our comprehensive Digestive Stool Test can identify markers of intestinal health and some critical bacterial imbalances that may be associated with thyroid antibodies.
Increasing foods containing iodine such as fish and seaweed products, can also be helpful.
So as well as eating a healthy diet, supplementation is beneficial to help with thyroid problems. Supplements with selenium for three months has been shown to reduce thyroid antibodies. Zinc and magnesium also play a critical role in the production of thyroid hormones. Vitamin D helps to modulate (balance) your immune system. Calcium is also important because when you have a thyroid condition, it is very important to consider your bone health as calcium absorption and metabolism in the body (managing where it’s going to do its job) is altered.
Other Considerations In Hyperthyroidism
If your metabolism is running very rapidly, you may have greater requirements for certain nutrients such as the B vitamins and zinc. Some amino acids may also support regulation of the thyroid. Magnesium may also be helpful and is useful to support stress and promote relaxation. It is important to manage stress and incorporate relaxation into your daily routine while you are trying to deal with symptoms of hyperthyroidism.
We offer a Thyroid Test (blood) to measure all the thyroid hormones including T3 and the thyroid antibodies.
We can also test selenium, magnesium, vitamin D and other vitamins, minerals and omega 3 and 6 with our Nutritional Profile MGL4.
Digestive tests may be warranted if you are looking to reduce your thyroid antibodies. Your nutritionist during the consultation can help you decide which are the most important tests for you.
Where To Start?
Find out your level of T3 and whether your thyroid antibodies are raised. Talk to your nutritionist about a protocol aimed at reducing thyroid antibodies. If you do not have thyroid antibodies, ask about how we can support your thyroid and find out if a nutrient deficiency is impairing your thyroid function.