Lifestyle + Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Thyroid
Thyroid conditions are on the rise and yet there’s still so much confusion about what they are and how to live with them. The most common disorder we’re seeing today is hypothyroidism, with 1 in 8 women receiving a diagnosis in their lifetime. But the good news is, implementing diet, lifestyle, and supplementation tweaks can make a significant difference. We interviewed Kaely McDevitt RD, a women’s hormone and metabolism specialist, about her favorite (very approachable!) ways to support your thyroid.
So why does your thyroid slow down?
Sometimes it’s helpful to think of the thyroid’s function more as a symptom than a diagnosis. Since so many different factors can affect your thyroid it doesn’t make much sense to treat thyroid conditions as a root cause in and of itself. There are a few main reasons why your thyroid might slow down, so let’s break them down.
1. Chronic dieting
As we know, there’s a rampant culture of over exercising and under eating. And if we think about the fact that the thyroid sets the rate of energy utilization with your body, if there isn’t enough energy, your body tries to protect you by slowing down your thyroid function. It’s basically saying “hey, let’s not burn through resources irresponsibly”. So that’s one of the most common reasons why we see the thyroid function downshift.
2. Nutrient deficiencies
Another biggie I see is a deficiency in the nutrients required for creating, converting and uptaking thyroid hormone into your cells, like selenium, iodine, iron, magnesium and vitamin B12. Chronically high cortisol is a big culprit for poor thyroid function, too. So really anything that’s communicating to the brain that we’re not safe, we don’t have the green light to use energy, or we lack resources. All of those types of signals cause your thyroid to slow way down.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s
- Weight loss resistance and slowed metabolic rate
- Constipation and bloating
- Hair loss, brittle nails, and poor wound healing
- PMS and heavy periods
- Low basal body temperature
How to support your thyroid:
1. Up your sodium, potassium and magnesium intake
You may have come across the term “Adrenal Cocktail” on social media by now. It’s essentially a fun way to sneak in tons of minerals in an afternoon beverage and consists of 3 main components: sodium, potassium, and vitamin C. For the potassium part you can use aloe vera juice, cream of tartar or coconut water. For vitamin C, orange juice, pineapple juice, grapefruit juice or tart cherry juice are great options. And lastly you need to add a healthy pinch of salt for electrolytes and trace minerals. You can get creative here and mix and match things to find your favorite flavor combination(s). Some people love adding in coconut cream/milk or collagen powder for an orange creamsicle vibe. Mixology aside, an adrenal cocktail a day can really go a long way in supporting healthy thyroid function.
2. Sunshine and time in nature
Spending some time in the direct sunlight, preferably in nature is a super easy, affordable way to give your thyroid some love. This one really doesn’t get mentioned all that often because we tend to prioritize supplements and diet over lifestyle or behavioral changes but it really can nourish your nervous system.
3. Socialization and joy
This one needs no explanation. Time spent with your people, in community, playing and laughing is truly invaluable!
Iodine can be extremely polarizing in the wellness world, but Kaley is a huge fan of it. And with good reason! Iodine is literally a building block of thyroid hormones, chemically. Because of this, it must be part of the conversation when it comes to hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. It’s quite uncommon for Americans to consume foods high in iodine, so sometimes just bringing in iodine-rich foods like seaweed or shellfish can be enough. If a food first approach doesn’t work, then targeted supplementation based on your own unique labs is the next logical step.
5. Positive communication with your body
Yes, we mean literally communicating with your thyroid! You can start with something like: “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for working so freaking hard all these years. I’m going to get you what you need.” Almost like a sweet little rescue mission. This approach focuses on working with your thyroid as opposed to judging it for its malfunctioning. Again, think about how involved your thyroid is with the rest of your body and how demanding its job is! It’s the hardest working gland. So talking directly to your thyroid can be really sweet and helpful for folks.
Want more support in eating healthier and losing weight?
By working with one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at Michelle Shapiro Nutrition LLC, you will receive personalized recommendations and one-on-one nutritional counseling to help you reach attainable goals in a way that fits your lifestyle.