This month is Thyroid Awareness Month. What is the thyroid? The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland sitting below the Adam's apple, along the front of your windpipe on the front of your neck. The thyroid is filled with blood vessels and is brownish-red in color. The thyroid secretes several hormones. These hormones act throughout your body affecting your metabolism, growth, development and the temperature of your body.
I had heard the word thyroid, but to be honest, I didn’t quite know what it was, that is until I hit a wall health-wise and was told I had hypothyroidism.
I’ve always been active and pretty healthy. I’ve been vegan since 2012 and am pretty active. In 2015 I noticed something happening. My stamina was disappearing, I was short of breath, I was gaining weight especially around my middle, I wasn’t sleeping through the night, my voice became hoarse, dry skin appeared, joint pain became an everyday thing, I noticed my hair was thinning and a host of other things.
Finally, after going to a trade show and not being able to walk more than 100 feet without having to stop and rest and co-workers expressing their concern, I went to the doctor. We did an in-depth blood test and urine analysis. What my doctor found was I had absolutely little to no testosterone and progesterone in my body. My cortisol levels were way over what they should be and I was pre-diabetic. In the final summation, I had hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn't produce enough of certain crucial hormones. The thyroid is basically your body’s silent workhorse — it releases the vital hormones that control your major bodily functions. This includes digestion, metabolism, heartbeat, temperature and how you use energy. When it’s not working correctly, you can gain unexplained weight, experience fatigue, feel anxious and more. Bingo! This is what my body was experiencing.
After trying several medications and supplements, and researching natural methods to help my thyroid, I settled on a natural prescription, supplements and focusing on certain foods in my diet.
After about 6 months I had dropped thirty pounds and was feeling like my old self. I started going to the gym regularly and doing DDPYoga (google it) and my body was responding beautifully.
Here are some of the things I added to my diet to help me recover via a more natural way and maintain my recovery.
Seaweed: I know… Ewwww. But actually, I found the Sushi restaurant nearby made a delicious seaweed salad. I treat myself a couple of times a month. I also bought the dried sheets and made my own vegetable rolls. Why seaweed? The iodine. Iodine is an important nutrient in which the thyroid turns into thyroid hormones. Just one dried sheet contains the recommended value of iodine. I also found a liquid supplement which I added a couple of drops to my morning tea.
Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts contain selenium and studies show selenium helps with the production of active thyroid hormones. They also contain zinc which is another nutrient for your thyroid.
Blueberries: Really any berry which is high in antioxidants are really good for supporting your thyroid. I read that one study suggested people with hypothyroidism have higher levels of free radicals. So eating more antioxidants helps the body get rid of these free radicals.
Olive Oil: I only use a high grade, non-GMO and organic olive oil. Olive oil is what they call a “healthy fat” and it helps maximize your metabolism and regulate your weight. These are all tied to a healthy thyroid. Olive oil also has antioxidant polyphenols that have been studied for anti-cancer properties. So you can’t go wrong here.
Lentils: Being vegan, I use lentils a lot in my cooking. It’s a great resource of plant-based protein that also provides a source of iron. Researchers have found iron deficiency is linked to poor thyroid function.
Garlic: I started using more garlic in my cooking because garlic supports blood-sugar metabolism and helps to fight inflammation. Garlic is an incredible food for thyroid healing because it acts like an anti-viral “bomb” for not only balancing out food rich in fats and carbohydrates but also works to help eliminate the Epstein-Barr virus from your system. Garlic also has an incredible way of getting deep into your lymph system and thyroid.
Also, a friend of mine turned me on to Allimax. After doing the research, and seeing all the benefits of allicin, which is derived from garlic, it was a no brainer. And this is a way to get all the garlic needed without having to eat so much garlic. Check out what all the benefits are to Allicin - click here.
Green Juice: I also started juicing. Using kale, spinach, blueberries, apples, ginger, cucumber, dandelion, carrots and more, each morning I made my own version of a smoothie. I also purchased a cold press juicer. This takes a bit more time but you can make a bigger batch and have juice for several days. These smoothies and juicing provided my body a ton of nutrients from raw fruits and vegetable and I feel great, my skin glows and I know this has helped with my thyroid issues.
So do the research, check with your doctor, ask questions and find what works best for you. Knowledge truly is power and I’ve come to realize, nature provides everything we need to heal our body.