Your thyroid is an important organ that has many critical functions, including regulating your energy levels, hormone production, and your body’s metabolism, or breakdown of the foods you eat.
However, thyroid complications are becoming increasingly prevalent, especially Hashimoto’s disease (also known as autoimmune thyroiditis) and Graves disease. This makes thyroid health even more foundational! What does thyroid disease look like and how does our gut play a role in healing and preventing further thyroid issues?
Honing In on Hashimoto’s Disease in Thyroid Health
Hashimoto’s disease is the leading cause of hypothyroidism in America. It most commonly occurs in women ages 30-50, but women of all ages can suffer. This autoimmune disease causes gradual inflammation within the thyroid gland that limits hormone production.
Since the inflammation is not immediate, you may not notice any warning signs until the thyroid is already damaged. Once symptoms begin to appear you may notice thinning hair, weight gain, cold sensitivity, fatigue, and other signs that hinder your daily life.
Although Hashimoto’s or other hypothyroidism conditions may seem like a chronic diagnosis, it IS possible to keep your thyroid in balance and take control of your life again! The first step to healing the thyroid is having a better understanding of a health promoting diet —and the relationship between your thyroid, weight, and gut health.
Why is Weight at Stake?
As mentioned above, your thyroid plays a key role in regulating metabolism, or the breakdown of what you consume into energy for your body. Everyone has a unique Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the baseline quantity of calories burned at rest to perform tasks needed to keep you alive. BMR can vary based on a variety of different things, including gender, age, weight, genetics, and current health status.
Those with hypothyroidism complications typically experience weight gain, or have trouble losing weight. This is due to a decrease in BMR from baseline in those with hypothyroidism.
Treating thyroid complications is key to break the weight stall. However, weight is not the only factor to be considered when creating a functional nutrition-based treatment approach.
The Thyroid-Gut Connection
If you’ve been following RSN for a while, you know your gut is a part of many underlying issues, and the thyroid is no exception. Did you know gut dysbiosis & leaky gut can potentially lead to thyroid complications like Hashimoto’s? Additionally, Hashimoto’s & Graves disease often co-exist in people diagnosed with Celiac disease, meaning gut symptoms and thyroid issues can often go hand in hand!
The gut also plays a role in making a lot of vitamins and minerals our bodies need, including zinc and selenium. Zinc and selenium are needed to convert thyroid hormone T4 into the active form – T3. When the gut is not optimal, thyroid hormone production is at risk.
It is important to know nutrition can promote great gut health and prevent further complications.
Nutrition Tips for Promoting Thyroid Health
The Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of processed foods. It lacks balanced nutrition and does not promote longevity or gut health.
There are several key nutrients that help keep the thyroid working at its best! Some examples are: B vitamins, vitamin C, magnesium, selenium, and zinc. Some of the foods containing these important vitamins and minerals include: leafy greens, avocado, animal proteins, and Brazilian nuts.
If your plate is lacking color and variety, aim for at least three different colored foods on your plate! Bonus points if you can eat the rainbow on your plate!
Testing the Thyroid
In order to keep a close eye on your overall thyroid health, specific laboratory tests can be performed. Here at RSN, we test your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3, T4, free T3, iron, thyroid antibodies, sex hormones, and gluten sensitivity. This provides an in-depth look at your thyroid and its execution of various body functions.
At RSN, we test, and don’t guess to get to the underlying cause(s) of your health concerns. We have experience working with a wide variety of clients, including those with thyroid complications.
Do you want to test your thyroid and its important related biochemical markers?
Rachel Scheer is a Certified Nutritionist who received her degree from Baylor University in Nutrition Science and Dietetics. Rachel has her own private nutrition and counseling practice located in McKinney, Texas. Rachel has helped clients with a wide range of nutritional needs enhance their athletic performance, improve their physical and mental health, and make positive lifelong eating and exercise behavior changes.