Diet for Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
– Sub-clinical Underactive Thyroid
– Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome
– Underactive Thyroid
– Reverse T3
– Hashimotos Disease
– Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism
– Nutrients that support hypothyroidism
– Specific foods to support hypothyroidism
Two words that are often confused are hypo and hyper. The prefix hypo means deficient or underactive. The prefix hyper means excessive or overactive. When we discuss thyroid conditions, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism are at the opposite end of the scale.
This is about a hypothyroid diet (for the underactive thyroid)
Millions of people worldwide have hypothyroidism with a significant percentage unaware of their condition. The number of women with thyroid problems is much higher than men because women are more sensitive to hormonal changes.
Thyroxin, the hormone secreted by the thyroid gland into the bloodstream, regulates the way which the body metabolises (uses energy). Thyroxin travels throughout the whole body and is not isolated to the thyroid gland. With an undersupply of thyroxin many of the body’s functions slow down which can affect much more than the gland in your neck.
Fatigue, weight gain and a decreased ability to tolerate cold are common with an underactive thyroid. Some serious issues that are connected to an underactive thyroid are heart function, digestion, anxiety and depression.
Factors that can create hypothyroidism are: the thyroid gland not stimulated properly by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland; inflammation; infections such as parasitic or small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO); stress hormone release; lack of exercise; poor sleep; immune imbalances (possibly due to poor gut/digestive function); and nutritional deficiencies.
Most of these are lifestyle related and it is possible in many cases to reverse hypothyroidism, although some might call that remission.
Following are the most common classifications of thyroid disorders, with the least severe first.
Sub-clinical Underactive Thyroid
With a sub-clinical underactive thyroid, the tests show all levels are fine and within the ‘normal reference levels’ but you feel anything but fine. There are often underactive thyroid symptoms such as cold hands and feet, fatigue, sleep difficulties or needing too much sleep, weight gain, low morning body temperature and fuzzy head feelings.
Although the levels on the lab tests appear to be ok, the thyroid is still struggling and although you don’t always require medication, you can benefit from a diet for hypothyroid to support good thyroid function.
It is beneficial to get your thyroid hormone levels assessed by an integrative doctor or a naturopath who is familiar with reading hormone levels differently to the reference levels used ‘medically’. Let me explain…
A supposedly normal TSH level (depending on the lab) may be between 0.40 and 4.00 mU/L usually placed in brackets like so (0.4-4.00) and your score might be say 3.5mU/L which falls well within the ‘normal’ medical reference level and consequently doesn’t require medication.
However any score above 2 is still a high enough score to be considered as a sub-clinical underactive thyroid. Even scores of 5mU/L are often ignored by some doctors. The ideal would be between 1-1.5mU/L. If this sounds confusing, you are not alone, but you can find more information online and more importantly, guidance from an integrative/functional doctor.
With a sub-optimal functioning thyroid, it is best to be monitored to see that your levels don’t get worse, but meanwhile work with your practitioner to heal the underlying cause/s and use a diet for hypothyroidism to help optimise your thyroid.
Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome (WTS)
Somewhat similar to the sub-clinical underactive (sub-optimal) thyroid, Wilson’s temperature syndrome (discovered and named by Dr. Wilson in the 1980’s) is where all of your thyroid tests such as TSH, free T3, free T4, reverse T3 and thyroid antibody levels are all perfect, but you still suffer from many of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid.
The key difference is that your body temperature is too low. (Note Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome is NOT the same as Wilson’s disease, which is a genetic abnormality to do with copper build up in the body).
There is absolutely NO blood test that shows Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome (WTS) and the only way to test for it is to check your body temperature three times (3x) per day starting 3hrs after waking for 7 days or more. Most people have a slightly lower body temperature first thing in the morning and again later in the day or evening, so if your body temp is lower during the day, then you may have WTS.
Optimal body temperature is around 98.6F or 37C (taken orally). If consistently below this, especially around 97.6F/36.4C or less, then there is the possibility of WTS. You will need an accurate thermometer to be sure of this reading. Apparently the best thermometers are the liquid metal (non-mercury) oral thermometers; the digital ones are prone to be inaccurate.
WTS is treated by taking a special T3 replacement (similar used to treat reverse T3) rather than the usual T4 replacement. But the T3 is only taken for a short duration (average around 2-3 months) until the temperature is normalised.
Unlike other thyroid conditions, WTS is considered to be totally reversible (the others are sometimes reversible). Often many people with WTS respond very well to diet, exercise and stress control even without taking T3. Consequently a hypothyroid diet can be very beneficial.
Wilson’s temperature syndrome may be triggered by stress (just like reverse T3). But this stress may have been there for many years prior to diagnosis and it often doesn’t go away by itself, unless supported with T3 and/or diet, exercise, and stress modification.
Many people find that an extended restful holiday with good food and walks made their symptoms disappear (along with excess weight) without even realising it, until it’s brought to their attention.
For more information on this syndrome and to find a doctor that treats Wilson’s syndrome, look up Dr. Wilson’s website.
With an underactive thyroid, there is no elevation of antibodies, but the thyroid is not functioning to full capacity, so the thyroid stimulating hormone is elevated, and trying to ‘stimulate’ the thyroid to work better.
This can be tricky as tests show a high level of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and the word ‘high’ often confuses people into thinking that their thyroid is overworking rather than under-working. So the higher the number (TSH) the less the thyroid is working efficiently and is being stimulated to work more.
This is a stress related imbalance validated with tests. With the previous underactive thyroid condition, you have normal TSH, normal T3, normal T4 and no antibodies. But when testing for Reverse T3, the ratio between the T3 and reverse T3 is not in balance. The level of reverse T3 can be elevated or just not in the correct ratio to T3.
To decide which of these classifications you have, you will need the support of your health practitioner. In reverse T3, there is an illusion that the thyroid is fine, but in fact the T3 is in reverse molecular sequencing and the body cannot recognise this hormone.
Reverse T3 is triggered by stress and starvation. What I mean by starvation is when someone is trying to lose weight by eating sparsely, or they need to go on a long term fast for whatever reason (such as surgery). Consequently, the body tries to conserve your energy by creating reverse T3. As mentioned, stress also triggers this because the body thinks something is about to potentially happen and tries to conserve energy as a ‘fight or flight’ response.
In most cases, reverse T3 is self-correcting when the stress goes away, but if it continues for too long then the body recognises this as its ‘new way to be’ and keeps the level high. This can be a real issue if you are only tested for the basic thyroid tests as reverse T3 can easily be overlooked.
Hashimoto’s is an auto immune disease of the thyroid and the most severe thyroid condition (apart from Thyroid cancer). With Hashimoto’s disease you have an underactive dysfunctional thyroid, as well as high levels of certain antibodies that destroy the thyroid, making it even harder for it to function.
Because Hashimoto’s is an auto-immune disease, the diet to suit this condition is very different to the Hypothyroid Diet (Underactive Thyroid). If you have been diagnosed with auto-immune hypothyroidism, also known as Hashimoto’s Disease, I recommend a Diet for Hashimoto’s Disease.
This specific diet will limit your food choices a little more but there are still plenty of great recipes you can have. The advantage is that the Diet for Hashimoto’s may help you to heal faster than if solely on a Hypothyroid Diet, but do consult with your practitioner before deciding if this is the right choice for your body.
For more information about Auto-Immune conditions, see my (great) article Our Amazing Immune System 🙂
And as mentioned for more information about Hashimoto’s Disease see my article about a Diet for Hashimoto’s Disease.
A doctor could diagnose hypothyroidism by detecting physical signs and characteristics of an under active thyroid. But this can be difficult because the condition might develop so slowly that the patient is unaware of the gradual changes in their body.
Thus it’s important to have pathology tests to confirm the diagnosis and the cause of hypothyroidism. Testing includes a TSH and may include a test for free T3, free T4 and thyroid antibodies.
While a doctor may make the initial diagnosis, further assistance is often needed from an endocrinologist, a thyroid disease specialist and a natural health practitioner.
With the help of your health practitioner, when considering how to support the thyroid you need to consider the gut connection (leaky gut), food intolerances, poor digestion, inflammation in the gut and possible nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies, either from poor absorption or lack of ingestion.
‘Insufficiencies’ means that while your body may get the recommended daily allowance of a nutrient, that may be insufficient for your needs because of what is going on in your life. For example, if you have lots of stress, then your body will use up more B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium.
A diet for an underactive thyroid will exclude specific foods (listed below), and include specific foods and nutrients (listed below) to support the gut, inflammation and provide you with vital nutrients needed for a healthy functioning thyroid. The removal of gluten, dairy, grains, sugar, additives and anything artificial in the diet will make it easier for your body to heal and stabilise hormones.
If you are on prescription medication, continue to take your meds as directed by your doctor, and the addition of the diet for hypothyroidism will help to keep your body more stable.
If you have not started medication yet or have a sub-clinical underactive thyroid, then this diet might be able to nip things in the bud to possibly avoid medication. Seek the advice of your health care practitioner to make this decision.
While a diet for hypothyroidism is not considered a cure, the idea is to eliminate foods considered detrimental and include foods that support your body, so it has the best chance to do its natural job of healing. That’s why it is so important to exclude antagonistic foods and drinks.
If you have Hashimoto’s thyroid disease a hypothyroid diet will be beneficial for you. However, as mentioned a specific diet for Hashimoto’s will give you an auto-immune paleo style diet and also exclude specific foods that don’t suit auto-immune hypothyroid, such as the Brassica family of vegetables and the ‘nightshades’ as well as reduce the very high histamine foods. While this limits your food choices a little more I often find that the limited diet is for a reduced time to support the initial healing phase of the work.
Important: Before you commence a new diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance about what foods and supplements are best for your body. While on the diet do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional.
Note: During the early stages of a new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.
Foods to avoid with hypothyroidism
Gluten (by far the worst culprit)
A gluten-free diet has the potential to change your life for the better. Gluten is inherently inflammatory, stimulates the immune system (in a bad way), feeds the wrong bacteria in the gut and is damaging to the lining of the gut.
Grains such as wheat, barley, rye and many more are starchy carbs, pro-inflammatory and aggravate the digestive system. Also when you have grains in your diet, you are eating a food that is calorie dense but low in nutrients. Most grains have substances called phytates which block the absorption of certain nutrients.
When you replace starchy grains with vegies that are non-starchy carbs and loaded with vitamins and minerals, you are eating food that delivers more nutrients per mouthful and is much kinder to your body.
You may have heard of the term ‘empty calories’ and this term is used for most processed foods. Consider a plate that is stacked with processed pasta or rice or bread, accompanied by some salad or vegetables. Essentially you get most of the nutrients from the veggies and salad and not much from the rest.
If you are worried that you won’t get enough carbs in your diet, consider that ALL vegetable, salads and fruits are carbohydrates. If you want carbs full of fibre, then the starchier vegetables like sweet potato, corn and potatoes will do the job. But, if you are trying to keep your weight down, I recommend keeping the fibrous carbs to a minimum.
Dairy products can create problems for those with thyroid problems. Dairy products and gluten are among the most common food allergies and sensitivities. Both gluten and dairy can increase the risk of ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’ and increase inflammation in the thyroid gland ultimately affecting its function.
Many people are finding it trendy to juice greens and eat loads of raw greens, which while packed with great nutrients, may also contain substances called goitrogens. These hold molecules that impair thyroid peroxidase, an important enzyme required for a healthy thyroid.
Foods that foster goitrogenic activity which may impact thyroid function include large amounts of raw Brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, soy and Brussels sprouts. Small amounts are fine and cooking them lightly seems to reduce this effect, but having a green smoothie with kale every day is not so good if you have an underactive thyroid.
Other foods that have some goiterogenic activity include; swedes, turnips, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, silverbeet, corn, bamboo shoots, cassava, lima beans, linseed/flax, peaches, pears, peanuts, pine nuts, strawberries, sweet potato, horseradish, as well as tofu, tempeh, edamame and soy milk.
Then there’s the foods that contain flavanoids that can be converted to goiterogens by the action of our gut bacteria (especially if it is imbalanced/not healthy) and an enzyme called myrosinase. These include red wine and green tea (both considered healthy by some).
If cooked and eaten in moderation, the above goiterogenic foods are considered safe to eat and beneficial in other ways and can be included in a diet to support an underactive thyroid. But not advised for a Hashimoto’s diet.
Sugar is an insidious substance that sneaks its way into many foods we consume, but it is also a very toxic substance for the body including the thyroid. It’s particularly important to go sugar-free with Hashimotos disease, as this inflammatory condition is fuelled by sugar (eating sugar is like putting petrol/gasoline on a fire).
Even though one of the biggest issues with hypothyroidism is fatigue, sugar only gives temporary false energy which then dumps you soon after eating it. Sugar is hidden in many food sources, so good label reading is required. But the easy way is to not have any processed foods so you know exactly what is going into your body.
Nutrients that support hypothyroidism
Following are key nutrients required for a healthy functioning thyroid:
Iron: found in meats, fish, leafy greens (avoid goitrogens)
Zinc: found in meats, pepitas, oysters, seafood (many of my clients are low in zinc)
Selenium: found in Brazil nuts, nutritional yeast, beef, turkey, chicken (most people I have done a hair mineral analysis on are low in Selenium)
Iodine: found in seafood and seaweeds
Vitamin D: any animal liver, fatty fish, egg yolks (and the sun, see The Benefits of Sunlight)
Vitamin B6: meats, pistachios, rice bran, tuna, turkey, bananas, sweet potato
Vitamin B12: meats, egg yolks, fish, liver, nutritional yeast, mushrooms
Boron: chickpeas, almonds, beans, bananas, walnuts, avocado, broccoli, prunes, oranges, red grapes, apples, raisins, pears
Tyrosine: soybeans, beef, lamb, pork, fish, chicken, nuts, seeds, eggs (Tyrosine is the T in T3 or T4 and the 3 & 4 relate to the number of iodine molecules, so you can see why these nutrients are super important).
Essential fatty acids: nuts and seeds, seafood and fish
Vitamin A: sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy greens, squash, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits
Vitamin E: dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, avocados, shellfish, fish, plant oils, broccoli, squash and fruits
Manganese: nuts, leafy vegetables and teas
Magnesium: leafy greens (not the brassica family like kale), nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocados, bananas, sugar free dark chocolate
Friendly bacteria: fermented foods like coconut yoghurt, sauerkraut
Curcumin: from turmeric as a spice or tea
Quercetin: apples, peppers, dark cherries and berries, tomatoes, citrus
Specific foods to support hypothyroidism
Specific foods known to be good for hypothyroid function include:
Wild-caught fish such as salmon, mackerel or sardines to support healthy mood and the immune system.
Coconut oil which provides medium-chain fatty acids in the form of caprylic acid, lauric acid and capric acid that support a healthy metabolism, increase energy and help fight fatigue. Coconut oil nourishes the digestive system and has antimicrobial, antioxidant and antibacterial properties that suppress inflammation, improve immunity and can increase brain function, endurance and your mood.
Seaweeds are some of the best natural sources of iodine. Kelp, nori and dulse are the best choices.
Probiotic foods such as coconut yoghurt helps to create a healthy gut environment by balancing gut bacteria. This helps reduce leaky gut, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and autoimmune reactions.
Seeds such as flax/linseeds and chia seeds provide ALA, a type of omega-3 fat. ALA is critical for proper hormonal balance and thyroid function, as well as supporting healthy mood and brain function, while helping to lower inflammation. (Note: If following an auto-immune protocol, seeds are discouraged, at least until antibodies are back to ‘normal’)
High fibre foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and lentils are all part of the plan to support not only your thyroid but also your digestive system. (Note: I recommend avoiding legumes for auto-immune thyroid conditions e.g. soy beans, chick peas, kidney beans etc as noted in the Hashimotos and Auto-Immune Diet articles)
Bone broth contains the amino acids glycine and proline to help repair the intestinal lining and improve hypothyroidism. It also contains important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and silica. Bone broth has been shown to help improve energy, increase immunity and lower pain in muscles and joints.
As you can see there are many great nutritious food choices to enjoy while healing with a hypothyroid diet.
Client name and identifying information changed
Isabelle came to me soon after her doctor diagnosed an underactive thyroid. She felt that it would have been this way for some time as she had been extremely tired for several years, but put it down to having had two children close together. But when her youngest started school and she felt that she was getting good rest, the fatigue seemed unusual.
Apparently, previous thyroid tests showed low thyroid activity but during those visits her TSH was still within the reference range and the doctor hadn’t brought this to her attention, saying all was fine.
Because her current TSH level was still not at a critical level, the doctor did not start medication, but was going to ‘keep an eye on things’. This set-off alarm bells for Isabelle, as she now knew there was a reason for her fatigue and she wanted to do what she could to manage it better and hopefully avoid medication.
In our first consultation I discovered that Isabelle previously needed antibiotics due to mastitis, so we tested her gut health and found that her bacteria levels were out of balance, but not enough to warrant the use of herbs or drugs. I suggested she increase probiotic foods and decrease sugar and refined carbohydrates that were feeding the bad bacteria.
Her tests also showed a degree of inflammation in her digestive system, but because Isabelle was short on money we didn’t investigate further at that point. I prescribed a gluten and dairy free diet along with avoiding grains, sugar and additives to give her digestive system a rest, reduce inflammation and give her body the potential to heal. Bone broths were also introduced to help with healing and to sooth her digestive system.
Foods rich in the vital nutrients needed for good thyroid function were included in her diet. This was easy because she wasn’t going to have grains, and instead have a lot more vegetables, nuts and seeds which are all very rich in vitamins and minerals. Magnesium and vitamin C rich foods were included to help manage stress.
Isabelle loved the new diet – her energy and quality of sleep improved and she handled day to day stress much better.
She didn’t get her thyroid levels checked until three months later, and over this period Isabelle felt like there wasn’t an issue any more and she was right. The tests all came back within the reference range. While still not optimal, they continued to improve even more over time.
Because it was easier for her to cook this way for the whole family rather than just for herself, after six months from her first consult with me, Isabelle emailed to say that her husband said he had more energy and was coping with work better, so much so that he got a promotion due to working more efficiently.
As a bonus the kids’ school reports mentioned that their behaviour had improved and they were more attentive to their school work.
A great result for a happy family ?
Client name and identifying information changed
Note: this case study also appears in the Diet for Cardiovascular Disease article and is included here because of its relevance to a thyroid condition.
A middle-aged guy who came to my clinic had suffered a recent heart attack but the doctors and specialist couldn’t find anything at all wrong with his heart or vascular system. They told him that they didn’t know why it happened, so made no recommendations. He of course lived with the fear of it happening again, hence the appointment with me.
On examining him, I thought it would be important to check his thyroid as I saw in his eye examinations (sclerology and iridology) that he had weakness in the thyroid area that was showing quite brightly (acute) and there is research suggesting that an underactive thyroid can affect the cardiovascular system.
But his doctor refused to arrange the thyroid test because the client wasn’t overweight or cold (common symptoms of an underactive thyroid) and although he was tired, the doctor put that down to the heart attack. So we then had to arrange for the thyroid tests to be done privately, which cost him more.
His thyroid showed to be very underactive (high TSH), so he went back to the doctors with the results and was promptly put onto medication for an underactive thyroid.
We also worked on why his thyroid was underactive. To do this we tested his levels of key nutrients needed for a healthy thyroid such as zinc, B6, B12, folate, tyrosine, iodine and selenium. We checked his heavy metal levels, gut function and for any food intolerances.
We also checked antibodies for thyroid and other cardiovascular markers such as homocysteine (the B12 and folate are also relative to cardiovascular health).
When the results came back we saw that he had low B12 levels and also an intolerance to gluten. As a ‘meat eater’ he would have been consuming enough B12 foods, but because his gut was affected by gluten, he was probably unable to absorb or convert the B12 in his system.
Conversion of B12 needs the help of good levels of friendly bacteria which were also showing low in his digestive testing. Because of low B12 his homocysteine level was elevated, which is a cardiovascular risk factor, and may have been a contributing factor. While the homocysteine level wasn’t super high, the combination with the low B12, low thyroid activity and low gut bacteria was a recipe for something disastrous, which for him was the heart attack.
By removing the gluten and associated cross-reactive foods from his diet (see the list below), his gut healed well and his B12 level came back to normal. Initially we did use supplementation of B12 sublingual (under the tongue) but checked later and found that he was absorbing enough B12 from his diet alone now.
After three months of the diet change we re-checked his thyroid function and the level was dropping too low so he was taken off his medication by his doctor and all was well again.
Six years have passed since I first saw him. He hasn’t had any issues with his heart or thyroid since and his energy is back to normal.
Below is a list of common foods that cross-react with gluten, because they have a similar protein structure. Gluten is found in products made from wheat, barley, spelt and rye.
- Dairy, i.e. milk and cheese (alpha-casein, beta-casein, casomorphin, butyrophilin, whey protein)
When a body is inflamed and irritated by gluten, it may think that these foods are also gluten and react to them just the same. For some people, this may only occur until the gut has healed from gluten, but for others, some of these foods may remain reactive.
Client name and identifying information changed
It amazing how many times clients told me that they felt certain they had a thyroid issue because they had so many of the symptoms, but their doctor told them there was nothing wrong and that maybe they should go on antidepressants or see a psychologist.
It’s frustrating, yet so common, because normally I had a good idea of what was really going on. It’s usually one of two situations.
The first is Wilson’s Temperature syndrome (WTS) where all thyroid tests and antibody levels are perfect, but they still suffer from many of the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. But the key difference is that the body’s temperature is too low. (It’s not the same as Wilson’s disease, which is a genetic abnormality to do with copper build up in the body).
The second situation is they have reverse T3. Unfortunately, many doctors and even endocrinologists (specialists) either don’t believe reverse T3 is an issue or just don’t check for it when the other tests come back normal. Why? I just don’t know.
This was the case for Evelyn who came in to see me in tears. She was tired and angry that no doctor had found out why she felt this way. She had so many of the ‘classic’ symptoms of hypothyroidism such as cold hands and feet, weight gain, foggy head, female hormone imbalances, constipation, anxiety and of course relentless fatigue. Evelyn was so tired and unable to work that she needed to take long service leave for three months to try and get well.
Because Evelyn had already been to her doctor, we decided to do the thyroid testing via a private pathology centre. We tested her TSH, free T3, Free T4, reverse T3 and ratios and all thyroid antibodies. As previously, her TSH, T3 and T4 all came back normal but her T3 was outside the reference level – not by a high number, but when we looked at the ratios it showed to be more of an issue.
The ratio is done between the T3 and reverse T3. The ideal ratio of T3/rT3 multiplied by 100 should be between 1.06 and 1.13 and if below 1, reverse T3 dominance is present.
Any practitioner treating reverse T3 needs to look at adrenal exhaustion, hypoglycaemia, nutritional deficiencies and low sex hormones before using slow release T3. I also knew from testing Evelyn that she had nutritional deficiencies (Vit B6, B12, zinc, Vit D, Iron, Iodine and selenium) and adrenal fatigue. We needed to start here before T3 treatment, otherwise it would have only made things worse.
In other words, first get the nutrients right that the body needs.
It was great to have this time to work with Evelyn to see what could be done. We discussed how reverse T3 is often triggered by stress and normally, after that stress has left, then reverse T3 will self-correct, which is possibly why many doctors won’t treat it.
In Evelyn’s situation, she had a marriage breakdown, and there were several years of considerable stress prior to the break up. But by the time I saw her, the mental stress was over, but the effects on her hormones had left a devastating wake behind her which she still carried i.e. her body was still carrying the stress which wasn’t self-correcting.
The fact that her nutrients were so low didn’t help, as this created a vicious circle where the body’s stress sucked out the nutrients and created the hormonal and adrenal fatigue, which in turn sucked out more nutrients from her system. She was like a sinking ship going down fast. To make matters worse, because Evelyn was so tired most of the time, she wasn’t eating well. This was where we had to start.
Initially I asked Evelyn to go onto a healthy diet that omitted gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine to give her adrenal glands a rest and to support better nutrition. Also, to specifically focused on eating foods rich in the nutrients she was low in.
We used supplements for the first month to build her levels up quickly but after that she continued with this great diet which was a combination of anti-inflammatory, stress reduction, adrenal boosting and nutritive support for her thyroid.
After two months on the diet Evelyn felt much better, although still had most of her symptoms, but at a lesser degree. We then took the diet one step further and removed all grains, nuts and seeds along with the nightshade foods from her diet. This was more like an auto-immune and digestive support diet even though she didn’t have any antibodies to her thyroid.
My feeling was that she may have been manifesting an auto-immune disease but because the thyroid and other tests cost a fair amount of money, we couldn’t test other areas such as her digestive system or other immune markers, so I had to use my experience and intuition to know what to do next.
More time may have also helped, but Evelyn was under pressure to go back to work soon so we needed to move things along.
Three weeks of those further food restrictions made a great deal of difference. Evelyn was now feeling 80% better than when she first came in but was worried about going back to work, as I was, because I felt she really needed to support her adrenals with more rest.
I suggested to ask if she could work part-time for a while. Her boss was very open to the idea, provided she could job share if she didn’t mind doing so for 12 months so that he could employ someone else. This was perfect for Evelyn as it took the pressure off her which helped her to recover faster.
The effects of no stress during recovery can be huge.
At this stage I felt that it was a good time for Evelyn to start some gentle exercises to get her blood flowing and to stimulate her hormone pathways to work better. Provided you are not bedridden, exercise – even if a small amount at the start and gradually building as health and fitness improves – can really speed up recovery with thyroid conditions as it boosts metabolism and gets everything working better.
This was just what Evelyn’s body needed to fully recover. After three months of gentle exercise and slowly reintroducing many of the restricted foods back into her diet (except gluten, grains, dairy and sugar) she felt marvellous. I suggested getting her reverse T3 tested again and this time all was good and she didn’t even need T3 therapy as some do.
Just a note that in some situations T3 therapy may still be needed but supporting the adrenals, hormones, nutrients and thyroid are very important steps that need to be taken for the therapy to work effectively.