Whether you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition or your test results appear in range but you are still showing signs and symptoms, diet and lifestyle are huge players in thyroid health and healing. If you haven’t read my previous blog on how thyroid function affects your hormones and what tests to get, check it out here.
6 ways to support your thyroid through diet and lifestyle
1. Relax and have fun!
Believe it or not, relaxing and de-stressing is a huge part of supporting thyroid function, and all of our hormones! Allowing stress to take over, and being in a constant state of “go, go, go” (or what we like to call “fight or flight”) keeps our body from digesting our food and absorbing nutrients, eliminating toxins, and uses up our nutrient stores rapidly.
Furthermore, when stress dominates, our stress hormone cortisol throws all sorts of things out of whack in the body, including the brain and the production of active thyroid hormone (1).
So, take a nap, go on a walk in nature, enjoy a bath or a massage, or simply shut off your phone and read a book! Any and every space you can create for peace and calm in your daily routine can have a huge resounding impact on your thyroid health in the long run.
2. Go Organic, ditch plastics, and make home and beauty swaps
As I mentioned above, environmental toxins are a huge suspected cause of thyroid deregulation. Chemicals, such as BPA in plastics and pesticides on food, disrupt our thyroids by blocking hormone receptors on our cells and glands, which keep us from receiving the hormones and nutrients we need to function properly. They also cause extra burden for our liver and other detoxification organs while simultaneously mimicking hormones in our bodies, causing incorrect hormone signaling and function (2).
While we can’t avoid all chemicals, we can greatly reduce our exposure by trading plastic for glass, choosing organic, hormone, and antibiotic-free foods, and opting for home and body products with little-to-no toxic load. For a better idea of how toxic your current cleaning or beauty routine is, check out the resources from the Skin Deep by the Environmental Working Group.
3. Stop ignoring your gut issues
It is hard to discuss hormone balance without mentioning the gut! Proper gut health is essential for balancing the thyroid (and the whole body!) because we need to digest our food well to absorb the powerful nutrients that support metabolism.
When we are dealing with reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, bacterial imbalances, infections, or any other gut disruptions, we simply aren’t able to absorb the nutrients we need! Furthermore, these issues are causing constant internal stress that keeps us in the “fight or flight” state mentioned above and taxes the immune system, even if we can’t feel it (3).
While gut healing can be multifaceted and take time, you can start by simply chewing your next meal thoroughly! Shoot for 20-30 chews per bite to allow your food to mix thoroughly with enzymes in the mouth and let the stomach know nutrition is on its way.
4. Correct nutrient deficiencies and focus on nutrient dense foods
Certain nutrients such as Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Magnesium, Vitamin A & D, Iron, and Iodine are all major players in thyroid health, and we are often deficient in many of them! However, each of these nutrients needs to be in the proper range to support the body without causing harm so testing for and correcting deficiencies is best done with the help of your doctor or qualified practitioner (4, 5).
While you are waiting for your tests results, simply choosing whole, nutrient dense foods at each meal can greatly support your whole body and metabolism.
5. Eliminate gluten, dairy, soy, and corn
While gluten, cow dairy, soy, and corn have all been found to be gut irritants for many people, elimination of these foods goes beyond food sensitivities. These 4 foods have been found to cause a case of mistaken identity in the body in people with autoimmune thyroiditis (6, 7).
Autoimmune thyroiditis causes an internal attack on the thyroid gland because the immune system can’t differentiate thyroid cells from harmful invaders. For individuals with autoimmune thyroid conditions, eating gluten, dairy, soy, and corn can contribute to the confusion because the makeup of the proteins in these foods looks surprisingly similar to that of the thyroid gland, further stimulating an internal attack. This is referred to as molecular mimicry. Many individuals with these conditions have seen drastic reduction in antibodies levels by eliminating these 4 foods.
6. Support your liver
Our livers function as powerful filters that process and excrete unwanted hormones, chemicals, and metabolic byproducts from the body so we can stay light and function optimally. When our livers are overburdened (especially by excess estrogens, like those found in hormonal birth control) and undernourished, it can start overproducing thyroid binding globulin (TBG), which keeps thyroid hormone from being used and absorbed by the cells. Even if your thyroid hormone levels are healthy, TBG levels can be elevated causing you to feel as if you have hypothyroidism (8).
Luckily, we have power over our liver function too! Multiple nutrients support the dynamic stages of liver detox, and we can choose to include them in every meal. Introducing other detox activities into our weekly routines, such as infrared sauna sessions and Epsom salt baths, can also help the body eliminate toxins more efficiently.
Support liver function by:
- Increasing colorful vegetable intake—eat the rainbow! Getting a wide range of antioxidants in our diet helps the liver breakdown toxins
- Prioritizing good quality protein at every meal for a range of amino acids that aid the liver’s detox functions
- Getting ample fiber from food at every meal and snack; perhaps try slowly adding in a gentle fiber supplement if needed in smoothies or capsules. Fiber helps absorb toxins and pull them through the colon to be better excreted. Remember to up your water intake as you up your fiber!
- Eating beets, bitter herbs, lemon, and bitter greens to stimulate the liver and gallbladder
- Reducing alcohol, sugar, and caffeine intake
- Checking your intake of active B vitamins in your diet, and supplementing with a methylated B complex if you show any signs of deficiency
Whether you have a diagnosed thyroid condition or not, these 6 steps are easy to work into our lives. I believe that everyone will feel benefit from supporting their thyroid, as it is key for our overall metabolism and health.
Which step will you start with? Comment below!
About the Author
After years of interest and devotion to healthy living and using nutrition to prevent disease, Ellie returned to school to become a holistic nutrition consultant. Ellie is currently growing her practice, where she passionately accompanies women as they begin to understand their bodies on a deeper level, discovering what foods and habits aid each woman’s individual body to function and feel the best. Ellie loves chatting and teaching about the female cycle and how nutrition contributes to hormonal balance and fertility. Click here to connect with Ellie and schedule a consultation. You can also catch Ellie on Facebook and Instagram!
Thank you so much for sharing! I have had hypothyroidism since I was about 16 and was never educated on the importance of nutrition or eliminating certain items (plastics, chemicals, etc) from my daily life until I took matters into my own hands and started doing research. This was very helpful and informative and enjoyed the simplicity of the article. It was easy to understand and comprehend. Thank you Ellie!!!
Thanks for your comment, Annie! I’m so glad you started doing your own research and I am glad you enjoyed the post. I’ll let Ellie know you commented!
Thanks so much Annie, I am so so glad this was helpful for you! Sending you lots of thyroid love!