Hypothyroidism: Signs, Symptoms, and How to Manage It
"It's currently estimated that 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism."
You’ve been feeling sluggish and fatigued, or maybe you’ve been gaining weight that you can’t explain. So you go online to WebMD and look up your symptoms and there it is… you might have an underactive thyroid! This also might be what’s behind your brain fog and fatigue, stomach issues and more. All of these have been linked to an underactive thyroid, also called hypothyroidism, or Hashimoto’s Disease.
Watch today's video with Dr. Nancy Lin, PhD holistic nutritionist, as she explains what you need to know about the thyroid health conditions that affects 20% of women or more.
- 02:14: If you have a thyroid condition, there are many things you can do to get back on track
- 02:49: Summary of Part 1
- 04:52: What is hypothyroidism
- 05:31: It's estimated that 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism
- 08:24: Most common symptoms of hypothyroidism
- 11:53: Development of Hashimoto's may be directly related to leaky gut syndrome
- 12:37: What is Leaky Gut Syndrome
- 14:58: We need to remove immune-reacting foods from our diets
- 15:12: Remove gluten
- 16:36: Remove dairy
- 18:32: Add supplements to boost immune system and lower inflammation
- 19:03: More than 90% of people with thyroid issues are deficient in Vitamin D
- 20:44: Curcumin greatly reduces inflammatory load
- 21:28: Reduce exposure to common household toxins
- 25:05: Reduce and manage stress
- 29:25: Natural, nontoxic, all-purpose cleaner recipe
- 31:50: Natural, nontoxic, laundry detergent recipe
- 35:09: Summing it up
Quick Recap: What is the Thyroid
If you saw Part 1 on the thyroid, you know just how important it is to have a healthy thyroid. When your thyroid is unhealthy, it begins producing either too much or too little of important thyroid hormones, and this causes all kinds of health issues.
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits low on the front portion of your neck below your larynx. A healthy thyroid produces balanced hormones, but if your thyroid hormones are too low or too high, it can lead to many health conditions. Today, we're talking about one of the most common thyroid conditions, called hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is also known as an underactive thyroid or Hashimoto's disease.
What happens when your thyroid gland is not able to produce the amount of thyroid hormone your body needs? Since the main purpose of your thyroid hormone is to stimulate the body's metabolism, it's no surprise that people with an underactive thyroid experience symptoms associated with a slow metabolism, such as weight gain, and an intolerance to cold.
It's currently estimated that 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and experts believe tens of millions more are currently living with hypothyroidism and have not been diagnosed. An extremely common contributor to hypothyroidism is... you guessed it! Inflammation. Specifically, it's often the result of previous or ongoing inflammation of the thyroid gland, which leaves a large percentage of the cells of the thyroid damaged and incapable of producing sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.
The most common cause of thyroid gland failure is called Autoimmune Thyroiditus, or Hashimoto's Disease. It is a form of thyroid inflammation caused by your immune system. This is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies directed against the thyroid gland lead to chronic inflammation. We don't really know why this happens, but as it occurs, and over time, chronic inflammation in the body leads to an impaired ability of the thyroid gland to to produce thyroid hormones. That in turn leads to a gradual decline in function that eventually hits a level where it qualifies as underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
This occurs most commonly in middle aged women, but can be seen at any age, and can also affect men. In developed countries, like the United States, it's estimated that 90 - 95% of cases of an underactive thyroid are due to Hashimoto's Disease, and most cases are not actually a problem of just the thyroid gland itself, but rather it's a condition stemming from an overreaction of the entire immune system, which results in chronic inflammation throughout the body.
It's common for symptoms of hypothyroidism to progress with the disease. In other words, your symptoms will get worse as the disease advances, if not addressed.
Most Commonly Reported Symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue, weakness, or tiredness
- Weight gain
- Course hair
- Dry or pale skin
- Significant hair loss
- Intolerance to cold
- Muscle cramps & frequent muscle aches
- Feelings of extreme sadness
- Memory loss
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
Left unaddressed, Hashimoto's can progress to a number of serious health issues, and these could include ovarian failure, infertility, pregnancy complications, birth defects, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and increased risk of heart disease, mental disorders including anxiety and depression, brain and kidney problems, nerve damage, and other serious infections.
If you suspect that you have a thyroid issue, please do talk about it with your healthcare provider. But the good news is, if you do have a thyroid issue, there are many things you can do yourself to get back on track and feeling healthy.
As we are learning more about Hashimoto's, doctors are realizing that the development of the condition is very likely related to gut health, with many cases resulting directly from a condition known as leaky gut syndrome. It's looking more and more like healing a leaky gut may be a way to address your thyroid issue.
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
We'll do a full article on this syndrome in the future, but it's important to understand what it is. When you have leaky gut, tiny holes in the lining of your intestines become larger, and inflammatory particles like gluten pass through these tiny openings, where they enter the bloodstream. It's like a pail that is pierced with holes, so that whatever you consume leaks out. This is why a lot of people with thyroid issues go on an anti-inflammatory and gluten-free diet. Almost immediately, they start to feel better and less symptomatic, because their thyroid is functioning better.
For those of you who have seen our other videos, or know how chronic inflammation affects the health, this should just be another confirmation that lowering your inflammatory load is essential to your overall health for so many reasons. By now you should know that:
Less Inflammation In + More Inflammation Out = A Healthier You
If you stick to this guideline, you should be able to improve your health from the inside out and begin to feel better. In order to remove the inflammation from your body, you need to remove the foods that are causing the inflammation. For many of us, this means removing the immune-reacting foods from your diet.
Follow these steps to get started:
Take out gluten from your diet! This is a tough step, especially for bread or pasta lovers, because gluten is everywhere. We get that. But if it's making your body inflamed, it's worth it! Just start by removing breads and pastas. You'll find that you quickly start feeling better, more healthy, and you won't get that crash after you eat! Going gluten-free is one of the best steps you can take if you have Hashimoto's. And there are great dietary substitutes you can implement into your routine that make it easy to live without gluten in your life. Check out Dr. Nancy's anti-inflammatory diet for more information.
Remove dairy products
If you have Hashimoto's start removing cheeses, yogurts, and milks from your diet. This too can be a difficult step, but these products are very inflammatory to most bodies, and can make matters worse when it comes to thyroid function.
In place of gluten and dairy, substituted healthy, gut-healing foods. We recommend a diet loaded with antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, lean proteins from organic poultry and eggs (just the whites!), nutrient-packed legumes including lentils and other beans, and organic bone broth. Also add gut-healing probiotic foods like kombucha, sauerkraut, or other fermented vegetables. Additionally, make sure you include healthy fats, like avocados, and the EPAs, DHAs, and omega-3 fatty acids found in wild-caught salmon, coconut oil, walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, basil seeds and more.
If you are dealing with an underperforming thyroid, you may also need to start taking supplements that can help with your overall health, boosting your immune system, lowering the inflammatory load, and restoring your gut bacteria balance.
More than 90% of people with thyroid disorders are deficient in Vitamin D, so you this should be a no-brainer. No matter where you live, it's a challenge to get enough vitamin D from sun, and it's almost impossible to get it from food alone. So you need a good plant-based vitamin D. Most of the Vitamin D supplements sold in stores are derived from animal products, specifically sheep glands. Smarter Vitamin D contains the recommended dose of 5,000 IU of plant-based vitamin D, along with the vitamin K2 that is necessary for making sure the Vitamin D actually works.
Curcumin is the concentrated, active part of turmeric. Curcumin is not only a powerful antioxidant, it really helps with inflammation in your body.
Reduce exposure to environmental toxins
The thyroid is also very reactive to environmental toxins and triggers, so if you have or suspect that you have a thyroid issue, you should try to reduce your exposure to toxins that can throw off your endocrine system, which will in turn disrupt your hormones, and cause an immune response and inflammation in the body.
Make sure you look closely at the products you have in your home and the products you use on your body to determine how many dangerous toxins are in them. This includes common household cleaning and beauty products, such as Lysol, bathroom cleaners, laundry detergent, fabric softeners, dishwasher soap, makeup, deodorant, shampoo, and body soaps. You want to do your best to replace all of these toxic commercial items with natural, safe, chemical-free alternatives, like vinegar-based all-purpose cleaners.
Also start storing your food in glass and ceramic containers, instead of plastic and aluminum ones. Plastic and aluminum containers are loaded with heavy metals and chemicals which leach into your food, especially if you heat the containers or wash them in the dishwasher.
Reduce and manage stress
More and more research finds a direct correlation between the level of stress, and your autoimmune issues, including Hashimoto's disease. 80% — that's 8 out of 10 people — report experiencing high levels of stress before developing their autoimmune condition. Most of the time, autoimmune disorders are aggravated because of high stress. Chronic, unchecked stress can make you sick! It fuels inflammation, which is the cause of the condition! So we need to manage our stress in order to keep our thyroids healthy.
Doctors are now recommending that patients use stress-management as an essential component in a multi-dimensional treatment approach to resolving the underlying causes behind Hashimoto's disease and other thyroid disorders. And a lot of this is free! Sometimes just spending a few minutes per day doing nothing can reduce your stress. When it comes to stress relief, you have to find what works best for you. What you like to do may be different than what someone else likes to do. For some this could mean a hot bath, a short walk, conscious breathing, or a yoga class.
Tips for reducing toxin exposure
Don't surround your body and family with toxic chemicals that disrupt your endocrine system and wreak havoc on your thyroid. Replace your toxic cleaners and detergents with natural, effective alternatives like the following:
Homemade Nontoxic All-Purpose Cleaner
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Essential oils
- Rubbing alcohol (optional)
1 cup white vinegar and 1 cup of water, 1/2 cup baking soda, essential oils, a splash of hydrogen peroxide. Store in a glass spray bottle and use to clean any surface. You can use this to clean pretty much anything! You can even use it to clean your garbage disposal! Use a cup of the cleaning solution, some ice, and the juice from half a lemon, squeezed into the garbage disposal. Turn it on and run for a few seconds. Or pour 2 cups of the solution into your washing machine and run it for a cycle. On surfaces, add a little salt when you're cleaning to help scrub. This is an easy, inexpensive, effective way to keep your home clean and toxin-free!
Homemade, Natural, Laundry Detergent
Using a pot or bucket, add:
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 bar of Dr. Bronner's magic castille soap (grated with a cheese grater)
- 10 - 20 drops preferred essential oils
This makes a wonderful, non-toxic, fragrant, laundry detergent you can use in any machine. Store in a glass container and use it just like you would use a commercial detergent, but minus the toxins!
We need to be conscious about what we bring into our homes and how that affects how we feel. Everything we bring in should be toxin-free if at all possible.
Summing it all up
Thyroid issues are very common, effecting more than 20% of women. An underactive thyroid, called hypothyroidism, is also called Hashimoto's disorder or disease. It's caused by an inflammatory immune system response, resulting in chronic inflammation that damages your thyroid gland. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: weight gain or trouble losing weight, joint pain, hair loss, fatigue, low energy, increased anxiety, or depression. If you have a number of these, you should consult your healthcare provider, and have your thyroid checked.
To start the healing processes in your body, make some dietary changes with supplement support, reduce stress levels, and remove toxic products from your home that unleash free radicals into your body and compromise your immune system.
Stay tuned for Part 3, on another common thyroid issue, hyperthyroidism.