The Ultimate Guide To Healing Your Thyroid

I’m writing this blog post — as with all my post — with purpose and meaning. I remember a period in my life when I was cold intolerant and just accepted it as normal.

It wasn’t until I had a radical shift in my lifestyle and dieting that caused my metabolism to skyrocket, taking me from always cold to sock-less during winter storms.

Overnight I switched from a strict high-carb vegan to a care-free Paleo style diet with a bodybuilding exercise regimen. This experienced showed me first handedly how the foods we eat, how we sleep and move directly impact our physiology.

At that time (a young 18) I knew food and exercise could put on muscle and effect our skin quality but I still had no idea that it could do things like change our core temperature, alter our energy and moods.

Little did I know about what was going on behind the scenes. My high-stress endurance workouts and sugary, starchy carb diet where wreaking havoc on my adrenals and thyroid. This was causing everything from the dry brittle hair, skin problems, digestive issues, mood imbalances and even my intolerance to cold.

Today things are much different. If you’re familiar with my blog/work you know that I’m well experienced with this whole “health” thing. I’ve put in 10 years of experimentation and today am qualified to share my experiences.

The one thing I see coming up constantly in a majority of my clients, friends and family is this cold intolerance. People are freezing, they hate the cold so much they literally have their entire life based around it. Some even moving across the country just for the warmth. Theres nothing wrong with that, but I am here to say the cold is not our enemy, it actually has plenty of health benefits.

That’s another story however. For now, lets talk about this thyroid issue because that’s whats causing the intolerance to the cold. The thyroid is regulates body temperature — it’s like your body’s personal furnace — so when it’s broken you get cold. So let’s learn about this little gland and how we can get it back into working order.

What Causes Thyroid Issues?

First things first, we wouldn’t be here today if there wasn’t something that had gone wrong with the thyroid. If all was well, you wouldn’t even have been considering finding a fix. That being said, before we can focus on the cure let’s consider a few of the many culprits and causes that slow our thyroid function.

The most common are:

  1. Environmental toxins. One of the biggest causes of thyroid problems is toxicity. When the body is overburdened with toxicity the thyroid has to work overdrive to boost the immune system. Examples of environmental toxins to avoid would be; most plastic, pesticides, thallates in plastic bottles, BPA in cans, parabens in sunblock and make-up, and the host of chemicals in our food and water. All of these things interfere with our thyroid function.
  2. Diet. Next to toxic chemicals, one of the biggest causes of thyroid issues is diet. What we eat can disrupt our thyroid function, if it’s indigestible or loaded with chemicals then our body recognizes it as an invader. Gluten is one of the biggest causes of low thyroid function, because it does just that. When we eat something like gluten or a food our body cannot handle, the thyroid is threatened and we call this Hashimoto’s disease. Like all disease, it’s fixable. If you get rid of gluten, you can heal it. The problem with gluten in America is that it’s GMO and hybridized so the body doesn’t recognize it as food. Same goes for most sugar, corn, and soy. Other questionable foods would be peanuts, eggs and nuts/seeds. Each person reacts a bit differently; however, these are the caution foods. If you’re going to experiment do so wisely by making sure they are the real deal, not modified versions of them.
  3. Nutritional deficiencies. When specialize in our diets by adhering to dietary dogmas or wreak havoc on our digestive systems via stress and worry we set up the stage for nutritional deficiencies. Iodine, vitamin D, selenium, zinc, omega-3 fats, and vitamin A are all important for optimal thyroid function. If you are deficient in one or more of these this may be causing the problem. Basically, you have to have optimal nutrient levels for your thyroid to work correctly. For example, you can’t make thyroid hormone without iodine. Also,  you can’t convert the inactive to the active form of thyroid without selenium, and the thyroid can’t work on your cells without vitamin D and vitamin A. These foods can be found in Brazil nuts (be sure to sprout), seaweeds, raw dairy, raw egg yolks and other controversial foods. Throw down your dietary fears and start eating real food again. Real food is healthy, I promise.
  4. Heavy Metals. Another big cause of thyroid dysfunction is heavy metals, such as mercury and lead. You can also be over exposed to heavy metals by eating too much fish. Smaller, wild-caught cold water fish such as mackerel, sardines and anchovy are a safer option. Also, those who have a lot of fillings in their mouth, or anyone who has had a lot of vaccines growing up; especially ones that contain Thimerosal.

What To Do: Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy

Now that we have an idea of what’s causing harm to our thyroids we can take action on removing these things from our lives. Just by removing what’s diminishing it’s function you should be dramatic improvements.

From there consider these three components of general good health, which will drastically improve your thyroid function.

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Nutrition
    1. Eliminate processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and sugar. These non-foods are absent of nutrition, which actually harm your health by chronically elevating your blood sugar and robbing your body of the needed minerals. Honestly, just cut these out and your thyroid will thank you. If you need a sugar fix no worries, subscribe to my blog for weekly sugar-free recipes made with lakanto, xylitol and stevia. These all are plant-based sweeteners with health benefits that actually taste good. If you try my raw chocolate recipe and don’t like it then I don’t know who you are.
    2. Eat certain thyroid-boosting fats. The best fats for thyroid function are saturated fats. Despite the controversy, saturated fats are good for you. Actually, they are the building blocks for your hormones; which are produced by the thyroid. The best fats will be grass-fed raw butter, ghee, lard, cod liver, palm and coconut oil. Coconut oil is especially good for warming your thyroid. According to Dr Ray Peat, an expert in coconut oil research, coconut oil added regularly to a balance diet, lowers cholesterol to normal. It does this by converting cholesterol into pregnenolone…the “grandmother hormone” made in our adrenals that is the precursor to DHEA and progesterone, estrogen and testosterone. Both pregnenolone and progesterone are anti-oxidants, anti-toxin, anti-clot, anti-cancer, and anti-seizure. Here’s a hot tip: If you currently suffer from a congested liver and/or gall bladder and do not digest fat/oil well you can still get the benefits by rubbing coconut generously on your skin. The skin takes in and absorbs the oil; bypassing the liver and still giving you all the wonderful benefits such as warming up your body! Try a coconut oil message twice a day after dry skin brushing and notice the difference!
    3. Consume thyroid-boosting fermented foods and beverages.Cultured vegetables are your thyroid’s best friend. The thyroid loves vitamin C and cultured vegetables made with cabbage are fantastic sources of vitamin C, much better than even most fruits because fermentation enhances the nutritional profile ten fold. Another great fermented food I enjoy for Thyroid health is Dong Quai. Technically an herb, dong quai, has been used in China since ancient times and has been called the “premier woman’s herb” because it helps balance female hormones. It’s not for ladies alone, it is great for improving quality of sperm as well. It is an excellent blood builder for both men and women increasing energy. It helps lift depression. It is interesting that our thyroid plays an important role in normalizing our hormones and Dong Quai also helps regulate hormone imbalances. In fact, one of the thyroid’s most important roles in a woman’s body is to regulate the balance of estrogen and progesterone made in her ovaries. I personally used Body Ecology’s probiotic liquid that contains Dong Quai when my hormones were out of whack with tremendous results. It gives you all the benefits of the herb dong quai, made more potent by probiotics, plus you get the cleansing and detoxification properties of the beneficial bacteria — making this drink a powerhouse for the thyroid. If you have hormone imbalances due to hyporthyroidism or hyperthyroidism, Dong Quai has been used for centuries to help regulate hormones AND provide you with immune and energy-boosting probiotics.
    4. Get mineralized. One of the cheapest and effective ways to stay mineralized is to use unrefined sea salt. Don’t shy away from salt, it’s essential to your life! All salt isn’t created equal, good salt is good for you, bad salt is bad for you. Another tip for staying mineralized is to not drink tap water or mineral deficient waters that dilute the kidneys. Opt for mineral rich water every time. It might be more money, but you’d be surprised how much less water you need when you’re drinking the good stuff. I spend the extra on a Pellegrino or Mountain Valley because I typically only need one a day. Where before I would spend less on a gallon of “spring water” and even drinking the whole thing only left me unquenched. Aside from healthy fats, vitamin C and protein your thyroid loves and needs minerals. Iodine deficiency is a common cause of hypothyroidism. If you’ve been avoiding salt because you’ve heard it’s unhealthy I’ll just say this…bad salt is bad for you, good salt is good for you. Switch to healing REAL sea salt and you’ll have no issues. Additionally, Iodine is a naturally occurring ingredient in Celtic Sea Salt and it is one of the healthiest salts available. Unlike common table salt, which is basically poison, Celtic Sea Salt is free of chemicals and additives. A lot of people tell me they use sea salt; however, not to be a stickler many of the sea salts — even some of the fancier ones — have been processed in some way, such as by heating, which removes minerals, including iodine. Drying agents are also usually added to keep sea salt from caking. The best sea salt you’ll ever get is going to be found in France or the Celtic Sea Salt and Redmond’s REAL Salt. Another way to stay mineralized is to take a high-quality mineral supplement. Not many of these exist. The only one I use and recommend is Ancient Earth Minerals because it’s made from humic and fulvic minerals from the earth. You can use this if you need the extra immune boost and are in bad shape; otherwise regular use of good sea salt should do!
    5. Eat your sea vegetables. There aren’t many foods that exist that have quite the list of benefits that sea vegetables have. They are the true super foods of the world and especially wonderful for your thyroid function. Sea vegetables should be at the top of your list of thyroid foods. There are a few reasons these foods are so great for your health and thyroid. One reason is that they contain iodine. They also have high levels of trace minerals, vitamins, healthy proteins and fats, all which are the building blocks for thyroid function. Seaweeds are also great because most of our soils are so depleted that even the most organic foods are lacking necessary minerals. On top of that, we drink bad coffee, soft drinks and alcohol, we live under so much stress, and eat refined, acidic foods, and sugar, all stripping our bodies of minerals. These gifts from the ocean contain tons of minerals that we have not yet depleted from the salty waters of the sea. I suggest trying dulse on top of a salad. It’s sweet and salty with the least fishy taste of all seaweeds. Then theres the popular nori, which you can use for sushi wraps. I still recommend trying other varieties such as wakame and kombu as they each provide different nutrients. An easy way to get them in your diet is by adding them to soups. They  are truly a MUST in every meal if you want to experience radiant health and longevity. If the idea of seaweed makes your stomach turn then okay, you can take a shortcut and I’m only suggesting this because it’s a superior product. OceanPlant Extract is an extract of a rare seaweed with a unique ability to detoxify the body of heavy metals and support thyroid function. Though all seaweeds can do this to some extent, this extract works specifically well at doing this.
  2. Exercise to help detoxify
    • Find an exercise you enjoy! You might have tried a colon cleanse or juice detox before; however, the most effective ways to eliminate toxins is not via your bowels but your lungs! All toxins including heavy metals are harmful to every organ in your body but they are especially disruptive to your endocrine system including your thyroid. If you’re in too bad of shape (adrenal fatigue and exhaustion) then do not do any sort of performance workouts. However, you still want to get the blood circulating and your breathe deep. Deep breathing exercises aren’t very effective for a society addicted to adrenaline highs. Therefore, I usually suggest Rebounding. It is truly the ideal exercise; it’s easy to do, gets you breathing deep, it’s FUN and has many health and detoxification benefits. You burn toxins even faster when you sweat; however, if your thyroid is out of whack you might not be in the best shape to do intensity aerobic workouts. But pop 50 mg of niacin just before you rebound in the sun for 15 minutes while breathing deeply and you’ll be surprised how fast you’ll start sweating! Another fun and inventive way to get the blood and lymph moving is a Vibe mat. These are new technology but tons of fun. I’ve done a few workouts at a gym in Chicago on these machines. You can learn about them here. Exercise is a type of stress, too much stress anywhere will breakdown the thyroid so choose a variety of exercises that you truly enjoy and look forward to doing. Throw out the word exercise and think of having fun. I promise, if you find something fun to do, you’ll likely move your body more than you imagined you would. Three simple, fun ways of movement that can help bring balance into a stressful life are yoga, walking, and bike riding. However, don’t limit yourself. Rake the leaves, play with a pile of puppies, pretend your a goat, catch a goat, give a goat a bath, I mean you get the idea.
  3. Choose Stress Wisely

    • Sleep like a baby. It’s funny how we grow up and all of a sudden naps and sleep become uncool. Then people hit middle ages and naps and sleep become more sacred than Tutankhamun. In a nutshell, getting good sleep is one of the healthiest choices you’ll ever make; next to healthy sex, laughing and nature. When we sleep we regenerate, renew and repair. Without sleep, we are like a computer constantly running without ever being shut down and recharged. Eventually, we’re going to burn out. Read my blog on sleep here to get some grade A tips on sleeping like a champ.
    • Become a master of your emotions. You do not have to be a slave to a rollercoaster of emotions. Whether you are aware or not, you are choosing your emotions. Though for many they feel their emotions are happening to them, this simply isn’t true. We create our emotions by placing importance, scarcity and significance on things. We can choose your emotions moment by moment and day by day, if we’re willing. To become a master of your emotions, you must take responsibility. If you want to live a happier, more relaxed and less stressful life, then I suggest taking that first step — own your emotions, stop playing victim to them. From there, you can explore the work of someone like Louis Hay or Deepak Chopra. For those more interested in really finding mastery as the operators of their lives, I suggest seeking out a professional auditor. They work to help clear you of  “core limiting beliefs” buried in your subconscious mind so you can move onward as a creator, not a victim. I also offer personal coaching in this area of emotional mastery. For a tip here and now, what I see in clients suffering with thyroid problems is an common theme of refusal to lose or humiliation. They are the types that feel they never get to do what they want to do. If this sounds like you, then own it. The first step is acceptance. From there, explore why you honestly feel this way and express to those involved in which you are holding onto resentment.

Don’t Forget To Show Your Adrenals Some TLC

If your thyroid is in bad shape, so are your adrenals. That’s because these two glands go hand-in-hand, both part of the HPA axis. In our modern world, adrenal fatigue is a common and undiagnosed condition just like hypothyroidism, and experts know that stressed adrenals affect your thyroid too.

Typically, your thyroid and adrenals team up to build energy in your body. But if one organ is compromised, then the other might be also, and adrenal fatigue frequently exhibits symptoms similar to thyroid disorders.

In my next blog I’ll talk about the adrenals and how to nourish them in so stay tuned!

-Nick