A lot of people who have hypothyroidism do not realize that their health are compromised, they just think they are tired. Vegetarians and vegans often confuse their tiredness with B12 deficiency. When they found out that they actually have hypothyroid, they often thought that they ought to change their diet back to eating meat or seafood, because they believe a vegetarian diet do not provide sufficient iodine. However, that is simply a misunderstanding.
When I had my hypothyroidism, I was on the 80/10/10 diet. I also thought that maybe my diet do not contain enough iodine and I was advised by my ND to include seafood and seaweeds in my diet. Despite what my ND’s advice, I had to try healing my hypothyroid without any animal products and salt. After 2 weeks of intensive “stress reduction treatment”, my thyroid was back to normal without even changing my diet. However, not long after that, the familiar symptoms surfaced again, that was when I found out what else were causing the issues.
I knew, I was over worked. And I also knew that I could get my thyroid back to normal without changing my diet, so my diet do contain enough iodine. The possible iodine deficiency comes from eating too many of certain vegetables and fruits that dampen down the thyroid function. I found that not all fruits and vegetables are good for us when taken in large amount, especially for someone with weakened thyroid gland. So, with both dietary correction and lifestyle change, my thyroid has been doing very well. Now, let us take a deeper look at hypothyroidism.
What is Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a state in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. At least half of the thyroid diseases are hypothyroid. Most of them are women who are 30-40s. Thyroid hormone production tends to go down as we age, but the age factor is not always. Hypothyroid can imitate other diseases. It mimics all the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and anemia. It is associated with many other diseases such as nutritional deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of hypothyroid basically include feeling exhausted without extended physical or mental work. Patients get up in the morning feeling tired but not rested, even with a good night sleep. They may have low sex drive and experience depression. Cold like symptom that occurs in the morning and cold intolerance are also common to hypothyroid. Other symptoms also include acne or eczema, goitre, slow to react, a low and hoarse voice without being a smoker, abnormal menstrual cycles and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Usually a good sign to tell whether the person has any thyroid issues is by looking at their eyes. Puffiness under eyes are common for hypothyroid. Second, is the low muscle tone which looks like fluid retention, especially looks like swelling at the ankles. Another sign is enlarged thyroid gland, but this is hard to tell unless you are a health professional. Then, coarse or dry, itchy skin, thinning or brittle hair are also some tell-tale signs.
Blood test and self-testing
The generic blood test for thyroid is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). The normal lab range is 0.4-5.5mU/L, and the desirable range is actually 1.0-3.5mU/L. However, TSH can go up and down within a few days. Even though, it is accurately reflecting your thyroid hormone at that time, it is not accurate for a long term measure. Instead, there is one easy self-testing you can perform at home. Here’s how:
- Get a mercury basal thermometer (not the oral kind) from a drug store. Keep it by your bed.
- Shake down the thermometer to below 95 degrees before you go to bed at night.
- Place the thermometer under your arm for 5 to 10 minutes before you get up in the morning. Record the reading after taking your temperature. Your Early AM Basal Temperature should be between 97.8 and 98.2.
- Take your temperature repeatedly for several days, at roughly the time every morning before you get out of bed. A consistently low reading may indicate hypothyroidism.
The possible causes of Hypothyroidism
Basically, iodine deficiency and stress are the two main causes for hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism. Since, there are no good test for iodine deficiency and consuming too much iodine could also cause hyperthyroidism, we really have to pay attention on how we feel to get it right. Fruits and vegetables do contain iodine, sometimes the problem is that there is not enough iodine in our soil. So, it may help to consume organic fruits and vegetables.
Some healthcare professionals recommend consuming seafoods or seaweeds to help increase iodine intake, I don’t think it’s necessary. Eating seafoods or seaweeds could cause other problems such as contaminations, infections and hypertension. What we need to do is to avoid the foods that will dampen down the thyroid function and compete with iodine. The brassica family (kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, radishes, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, kohlrabi, turnips and rutabaga), spinach, sweet potatoes, soy products, peanuts, peaches and strawberries tend to do that. Eating them once in a while in small quantity is fine, but they could be problematic if you eat them in large quantity and eat them too often, especially if you use them raw in juices. Baked goods are also problematic because a chemical called bromine is often used in baking can influence thyroid in a negative manner.
The other significant contributor to hypothyroidism is stress. Anything that will cause stress should be avoided. Stress disrupts and reduce thyroid functioning, weakening the immune system and cause thyroid hormone resistance. Stress can cause adrenal insufficiency that is associated with hypothyroid. For hypothyroid, avoiding stress is very important, diet alone will not help, unless your state of well being improves.
Water-only fasting is the best for people who’s TSH is beyond 10. For people who’s TSH is above 5.5 and under 10, usually stress reduction and diet together is enough. As for stress reduction, sufficient sleep (10 -14 hours a day) and spend time away from computer to avoid EMF (electro magnetic field) for an extended period of time are the most effective. Yoga could also be very helpful on relaxation. Other than those, do what is necessary to avoid everything that will cause stress, because every one is unique, only you would know what is stressing you out. I don’t recommend using hormonal therapy. Hormonal therapy tends to take over our body’s natural instinct to produce its own hormone, it eventually causes dependency and serious side effects.