Without a doubt one of the most common health conditions we see affecting women coming into the clinic are those relating to thyroid function – hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), autoimmune thyroid disease (such as Hashimoto’s or Graves disease) and thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).
These conditions are becoming increasingly common and simply medicating with thyroid replacement hormone (which is a common pharmaceutical treatment in some conditions) is not enough – what can you do to support and heal your thyroid itself? To celebrate Women’s Health Week Naturopath Claire Luckman offers some simple therapeutic suggestions so you can take your thyroid health into your own hands.
Top tips for improving your thyroid health:
- Protein: Eating adequate daily protein is vital for healthy thyroid function and helps to boost metabolism, which is often sluggish in states of hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid function. In fact, research suggests if you suffer from an underactive thyroid, you should increase your daily protein intake to boost metabolism and provide your body with increased essential amino acids to help stimulate thyroid activity. One study found that overweight women who increased their daily protein intake to 70 g per day lost significant weight and increased levels of thyroid hormone T3 and T4. As a general rule, aim for 1 gram of protein per kilo of body weight – so if you weigh 65 kg you’ll want to be eating 65 grams of protein per day. If you suffer from hypothyroidism then chat with your health care provider about increasing your protein requires further still to support your thyroid.
- Stress management: Stress is closely linked to thyroid health and research has found that increased stress levels actually make you more vulnerable to developing autoimmune thyroid conditions such as Hashimoto’s. Excess cortisol production (the hormone our adrenal glands produce when our body is under stress) interfere with thyroid hormone production, so high stress levels has a direct effect on how well our thyroid gland is functioning. Furthermore, Tyrosine is an amino acid needed for the production of thyroid hormones, and adrenaline is also made from tyrosine. So in times of stress, the body uses the available tyrosine for the production of adrenaline rather than thyroid hormones. Daily meditation is a great way to relax and help the body return to a resting and stress-free state. Allow time for yourself to do the things you enjoy and regular time to unwind. Herbs such as Withania, Rehmannia and Rhodiola are supportive to adrenal and thyroid function, and can help the nervous system to switch into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and relaxation) so talk with your Naturopath if you feel stress is a big factor for your health.
- Sleep: A no-brainer for almost all health conditions, getting ample restorative sleep is equally important when it comes to supporting healthy thyroid function. Commonly a symptom of an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) is trouble getting to sleep, and with an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) we often see that women will constantly feel tired and fatigued and no matter how much they do sleep they don’t feel any better. Herbal medicine can provide fantastic symptomatic relief in these instances, whilst working on supporting your thyroid as the driver of the problem will provide long-term solutions.
Reducing exposure to environmental toxins is another huge player when it comes to supporting thyroid health, as is the correct type and amount of exercise and reducing or eliminating gluten.
To read more about these points stay tuned to our Darling Health blog page, where Naturopath Claire Luckman will highlight more key info on women’s thyroid health in the coming days.
For more information about Claire Luckman, visit her website:
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