Life is hectic—I get it. You have a job, a family and maybe you’re juggling school as well. You have to pay bills, run errands and get groceries, all while trying to squeeze in time for a social life. All these demands can be overwhelming, so I don’t blame you for feeling like you don’t have time to make the dietary and lifestyle changes necessary for someone with thyroid disease. However, you might want to reconsider how you prioritize your health—your life quite literally depends on it.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits right below your Adam’s apple. Weighing only an ounce, this small yet vital endocrine gland regulates the function, growth and development of practically every cell, tissue and organ in your body. From your hair to your heart, your thyroid’s ability to function properly plays a huge role in your health and well-being – both inside and out.
Once during a time of grief when dealing with my Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune disease of the thyroid), I was lamenting to my doctor about how I didn’t have time for all of this and how it wasn’t fair. Why me!? My doctor turned to me and politely yet firmly said, “You have a very serious disease. You need to accept it and make it a priority.” She was right. An autoimmune disease is serious and it does require attention.
I started paying attention all right. I spent my lunch breaks winding up and down the aisles of a local health food store picking up everything and anything that looked new and interesting. I read labels, asked other shoppers how they were planning to use or prepare various items in their carts, and I started experimenting in my kitchen. You’re lucky I didn’t invite you over to dinner those first few months!
Did you know that 200 million people worldwide—27 million in the United States alone—suffer from some form of thyroid dysfunction? In fact, thyroid disease is more common than both heart disease and diabetes. How scary is that?
Untreated thyroid disease can lead to heart disease, irregular periods, miscarriages, infertility, depression, anxiety, digestive distress, goiter, brain fog, excessive weight gain, hair loss and more.
What’s more, about 90 percent of people with thyroid disease actually have thyroid autoimmune disease, and they might not even know it! Conventional doctors generally won’t test for autoimmunity because there is no medicine or pill to treat the autoimmune component. That’s right, your Synthroid and Armour aren’t treating your autoimmune disease, nor are they getting to the root cause of your thyroid disease.
Even though there is a time and place for medication—I am by no means against its use—please know that there are many natural routes available to restore your thyroid health that can be used in conjunction with conventional medicine.
When not cared for or treated properly, 50 to 80 percent of people with thyroid autoimmune disease develop a second or third autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis or Addison’s disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism but have never been tested for autoimmunity, please ask your doctor to test your TPO antibodies and/or your Thyroglobulin antibodies. You need to know what you are working with, or in this case, hopefully, without!
Unfortunately, thyroid medication alone doesn’t seem to alleviate many of the painful symptoms from which people with thyroid disease suffer. However, through various individualized dietary and lifestyle changes such as identifying allergens and other toxins in your environment, learning to appreciate and prepare traditional healing foods and the development of self-awareness you not only have a great chance of keeping other autoimmune diseases at bay, you can actually reduce your current symptoms, improve your lab results and maybe even lower your medication dosage and/or needs.
So, what do you think? Can you make time for your thyroid health this year?