Millions of people — the majority, women — are diagnosed with some form of thyroid disease every year. Why is this disease running rampant and, specifically, why does it have an affinity for women? If you’re wondering if something’s wrong with your thyroid or you’re not feeling well and you just can’t figure out what’s going on, here are three important things to know about thyroid disease.
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
Many female clients complain of being diagnosed with hypothyroid either during pregnancy or after having a baby. That’s because the baby takes most of the mother’s nutrition as it’s growing in utero. If your body is not getting enough nutrients it becomes deficient and your thyroid naturally slows the body down, to protect and sustain life.
Nutritional deficiencies don’t just come from pregnancy; many women become deficient if they eschew fat for fear of gaining weight. This is also one of the reasons why more women than men are diagnosed with both thyroid disease and osteoporosis. To create thyroid hormones (and our bones!), we need fat to support our ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, plus protein to develop the amino acids that build hormones.
Don’t be afraid to slather a little grass-fed butter (or gravy) onto your proteins. Butter from grass-fed animals is rich in vitamins A and D that helps support the entire endocrine system. Fat also helps us better absorb proteins due to the release of bile from the gallbladder, plus hydrochloric acid from the stomach that helps us break down our food.
Besides fat and protein, it’s wise to eat a whole foods diet that includes iodine-rich ocean foods like fish and sea vegetables. Iodine is an essential nutrient that nourishes the thyroid and controls metabolism. Enjoy a piece of Pan-Seared Sole, sautéed in butter and herbs, with a side of fresh vegetables and Roasted Rosemary Potatoes.
2. Adrenal Fatigue
Your adrenals live on the endocrine system and they produce estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, cortisone, adrenalin, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Consider your adrenals the batteries for your body. They are responsible for energy levels and endurance, and can help keep the body going and going and going…
Eventually, those batteries will run out, especially if they’re not recharged.
I had a client that was suffering with thyroid disease plus she had a large goiter (an enlarged, swollen thyroid). She was a hard working small business owner and put in long days and nights, every day, including weekends. She told me that for two years prior to being diagnosed with thyroid disease, she was feeling completely drained, but the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with her.
She said, “Even after eight hours of sleep I still feel groggy and wiped out. Like I can’t get my day started.” Her doctor recommended anti-depressants. Her symptoms spoke volumes! She was suffering from adrenal fatigue that led to being diagnosed with a thyroid condition years later.
If you have consistent days filled with lots of activities, without adequate rest and relaxation, you will become exhausted and the thyroid will naturally slow down (hypothyroid). It can’t keep up with a “going, and going, and going” schedule. Unless of course, you have super adrenals that keep your body hyped up without slowing down, as is the case with hyperthyroid.
A great way to recharge your batteries would be to go for a massage, take regular breaks, set boundaries around work, and allow yourself to chill out.
3. Over-exercising (yes, there is such a thing!)
A high level marketing executive had a job she loved that didn’t take up too much of her energy, but she was running four to five times per week before getting into the office, plus she did a spin class twice a week.
You would think with that amount of exercise she would have no problem with her weight, but she did. Suzanne had hypothyroid and could not lose that nagging 12 pounds that had been weighing her down. She was frustrated that she could implement the best marketing strategies to win over her clients, but when it came to her weight she was struggling.
After altering her diet, I encouraged her to consider stop pushing herself so hard. I suggested that she run only one or two times per week, and incorporate daily walking and gentle Hatha Yoga classes into her routine. She was extremely hesitant. Her greatest fear was if she stopped pushing herself (plus, if she ate fat…) she would blow up like a balloon!
But, when she finally moved beyond her fears and let her body relax, she lost 10 pounds in the first month. She was shocked! She thought she had to starve herself and exercise her brains out to lose weight, but that wasn’t the truth. She just needed a more balanced approach to the way she was eating and exercising.
There are many ways to nourish your thyroid. Whichever type of thyroid disease you have, if any, it’s time to support your beautiful glands. I understand it may be difficult to slow down because we think we have to keep up with the unnatural pace modern society has created. But, I’m going to suggest that we begin questioning that pace.
We are not superheroes. We’re super for sure, but we do have some physical limitations. Use your super-woman powers to make the wisest food choices, and to know when it’s time to rest.
So, eat nourishing, quality food that can support the health of your thyroid, then make yourself a cup of calming herbal tea, and kick your feet up and relax.
Your body will love you for it.
Check out Andrea Beaman’s Happy Healthy Thyroid: The Essential Steps to Healing Naturally to discover foods that are absolutely essential to thyroid health and delicious recipes that can improve your condition. Plus, learn about the connection between thyroid function and your emotions, environment, stress levels and digestive health.
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Note: PLEASE consult with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or medications. The material on this site is provided for educational purposes only, and is not to be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.