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It is estimated that more than 12 percent of Americans will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime and up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition. Thyroid problems are one of the most common endocrine conditions occurring today with clinical or subclinical hypothyroidism being the most common presentation. Hypothyroidism is characterized by low energy, mental slowing, depression, memory loss, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, cold intolerance, irregular menstruation, infertility and a variety of other indications.
One of the most common thyroid conditions that is overlooked in mainstream medicine is Hashimoto’s disease which is the most common autoimmune disorder in the U.S., affecting between 7-8% of the population. Hashimoto’s disease is a condition where the immune system produces antibodies that attack thyroid gland tissue. Studies have shown that 90% of hypothyroid conditions are autoimmune, mostly due to Hashimoto’s disease. Women ages 20 to 60 encompass the majority of these patients.
Many hypothyroid patients are not aware if they have Hashimoto’s disease. Often a patient is diagnosed with hypothyroidism without evaluating the autoantibodies against the thyroid (lab tests called Anti-TPO and Anti-TG). In mainstream medicine most doctors avoid testing the Hashimoto’s antibodies because it doesn’t change their treatment plan. In naturopathic medicine, distinguishing between autoimmune and non-autoimmune thyroid disease is crucial to knowing the underlying cause of the problem and how to heal the condition.
Optimize Your Thyroid Health
Identify and eliminate any food sensitivities or food allergies. This is especially important in autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease where the immune system is over reactive. The most common food allergen that inflames autoimmune thyroid conditions is gluten. Dairy, eggs and soy are also common food allergens. IgG Antibody blood tests or phased elimination and rechallenge diets can help identify food allergens.
Contrast hydrotherapy to the thyroid gland is slightly stimulating and can help in situations of hypothyroidism. In your daily shower, end with cold water directed over the thyroid for 30 seconds.
Eliminate soy from the diet. As a topic of recent debate, there is some evidence that soy isoflavones can interfere with thyroid function. Especially if you are consuming large amounts of soy or soy products such as tofu, tempeh, soy milk etc, cutting this out of your diet is probably wise if you have a thyroid condition.
Reduce raw goitrogenic foods: this category of foods includes vegetables in the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, radishes. These foods eaten raw and in large amounts have been show to suppress thyroid function. Reducing your raw intake of these foods is recommended in hypothyroid conditions.
Support and nourish your adrenal glands. If they are not functioning well, they draw from the reserves of the thyroid which can over work it. Some basic things you can do to support your adrenal glands are develop a good life routine so your body knows what to expect especially in regards to when you go to bed and wake up. Try to reduce or eliminate any stimulates in food or drink such as coffee and other sources of caffeine. These only cause the adrenals to have to work harder. Don’t burn the candle at both ends and try to do it all. Learn when to say no to take care of yourself, get plenty of sleep and practice stress-reducing techniques. Sometimes testing the adrenal glands through the saliva is necessary in determining their health status.
Eliminate environmental and food toxins such as nitrites found in fertilizers and processed meats such as bacon, deli meats and sausages. Other chemicals such as selenocyanates found in fertilizers, perchlorates found in jet fuel and fireworks and thiocyanates interfere with thyroid function.