Rev up your metabolism and boost your thyroid function with these simple steps.
We know that driving a car without gas in the tank is futile. Sure, you may last on fumes for a few miles, but in the end it will be very difficult to get to your destination. Your thyroid is no different when it comes to weight loss. According to the Canadian Thyroid Association, an estimated that 200 million people in the world have some form of thyroid disease and more than 20 million Americans have a thyroid disorder, with less than half being properly diagnosed.
Thyroid hormones regulate our metabolism and organ function. They directly affect heart rate, cholesterol levels, body weight, energy, muscle contraction and relaxation, skin and hair texture, bowel function, fertility, menstrual regularity, memory, mood and other bodily functions. Without enough thyroid hormone, every system in the body slows down. Those who suffer from hypothyroidism feel tired and tend to sleep a lot. Their digestion is slow and weight gain typically occurs. They can also experience extremely dry skin, hair loss, and slowed thinking. In fact, without enough thyroid hormone, attaining your perfect weight is almost impossible.
How is hypothyroidism diagnosed?
Four tests – TSH, Free T3, Free T4 and thyroid antibodies – are required to accurately assess the function of the thyroid gland, our master gland of metabolism. An optimal TSH should be less than 4.0, not the currently accepted 4.7 reported by most labs. T3 and T4 should be in the middle of your lab's reference range and your thyroid antibodies should be negative. It's very challenging to lower your body fat if you have an undiagnosed case of hypothyroidism.
What are the symptoms to watch out for?
The symptoms of underactive thyroid disease can vary, and not all individuals will show the same signs. However, if you experience two or more of the following symptoms, you should consult your doctor to see if a blood test may be needed:
- Frequently feeling cold or having an intolerance of cold temperatures
- Dry skin, brittle hair and splitting nails
- Hair loss
- Irregular menses or heavy menstrual bleeding
- Poor memory
- Decreased libido
- Unexplained fatigue or lethargy
- Unexplained weight gain or an inability to lose weight
- Many individuals with hypothyroidism have associated iron-deficient anemia and/or high cholesterol.
What’s really slowing our thyroid down?
In order to boost your thyroid, we need to understand what’s causing the problem in the first place. Hypothyroidism is a complex disorder that can stem from a number of different causes, including:
- The thyroid may fail to produce enough thyroid hormone as a result of an autoimmune response against the thyroid (Hashimoto's thyroiditis) or other problems with the function of the thyroid gland itself.
- Toxic levels of mercury, typically resulting from mercury fillings in the mouth or consuming large amounts of mercury-laden ocean fish, may inhibit thyroid gland function.
- High levels of estrogen or a converse deficiency of progesterone inhibits thyroid function. Many menopausal women using estrogen replacement therapy may develop the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. Menopausal women who are already taking medication for hypothyroidism may also need to increase their dosage if they choose to use hormone-replacement therapy (HRT).
- High stress hormone cortisol may interfere with the conversion of thyroid hormone into the active form that closely regulates metabolism.
- The excess consumption of soy-based foods and beverages may decrease the activity of thyroid hormone in the body.
- Nutritional deficiencies may prevent the proper manufacture or function of thyroid hormone in the body. For example, iodine, zinc and tyrosine are necessary for the formation of thyroid hormone, while selenium is necessary for the normal function of thyroid hormone.
The 4-Step Plan to Power Your Thyroid
If you think you may be experiencing thyroid symptoms, there are natural methods that may help supporting thyroid function in some people while working with your doctor to address your symptoms.
Step 1: Eliminate Thyroid Disruptors for 14 Days
You need to remove foods that keep your thyroid from running like a well-oiled machine – and optimal hormonal balance. Some foods may be forcing your thyroid to work harder. Avoiding them for two weeks may help with some of your symptoms:
Soy/flaxseed oil: These oils can act like estrogen and may force the thyroid to make more thyroid hormone than usual.
Raw cruciferous veggies: These vegetables can contain compounds known as goitrogens that may interfere with the thyroid’s ability to use iodine. Only eat these veggies if they are steamed.
Peanuts and peanut butter: This common legume is very acidic and contains goitrogens.
High-mercury fish: Mercury is a known thyroid disruptor. The worst offenders are swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, shark and most tuna
Make sure you avoid the forbidden foods. Please remember not to overly restrict your calories. If you cut your food intake too much, you’ll simply hamper your metabolism by creating (or aggravating) imbalances in your stress and blood sugar hormones.
The following food groups should be removed from your diet during your body detox because they are inflammatory or allergenic:
Dairy products: Yogurt, cheese, milk, cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, casein and whey protein concentrate. However, 100% pure whey protein isolate and goat milk cheeses are allowed.
All grains that contain gluten: Wheat, spelt, rye, kamut, amaranth and barley. Note that most breads, bagels, muffins, pastries, cakes, pasta, durum semolina, couscous, cookies, flour and cereals are off limits, unless they are gluten-free.
Corn: Popcorn, corn chips, corn breads or muffins, fresh corn, canned or frozen niblets. White and sweet potatoes must be avoided during week one.
Oils: Hydrogenated oils, palm kernel oil, trans fatty acids, soy bean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil, shortening and margarine. Limit your intake of safflower and sunflower oil. Olive oil is allowed.
Alcohol and caffeine: During your detox I recommend you cut these out completely. Too much of either one will elevate stress hormones and contribute to hormonal imbalance.
Sugar or artificial sweeteners: Table sugar (sucrose) and all products with sugar added must be cut out completely. Foods to avoid include rice syrup, maple syrup, honey, foods/drinks containing high-fructose corn syrup, packaged foods, candies, soda, juice, etc.
Citrus fruit: Oranges, tangerines and grapefruit. Lemons are allowed.
Red meats: Pork, beef, lamb, all types of cold cuts, bacon and all types of sausages.
Step 2: Consume Anti-Inflammatory Foods for 14 Days
Eat one serving of thyroid pick-me-up foods per day and consume anti-inflammatory foods for 14 days.
Vitamin A: Activates thyroid hormone.
Get it with: Sweet potatoes or tomato juice.
Iodine: Essential for healthy thyroid function because it helps the thyroid gland produce the hormone thyroxin- or T4- one of the metabolic hormones produced by the thyroid
Get it with: Sea vegetables like kelp, seaweed or fish.
Tyrosine: The thyroid gland combines tyrosine and iodine to make thyroid hormone, so this is an essential amino acid for thyroid hormone production.
Get it with: Turkey, egg whites and spirulina.
Selenium: Necessary for the normal function the thyroid.
Get it with: Brazil nuts. They rank highest in selenium content and the count is so high that it’s virtually off the chart.
Bonus tip: Low-fat dairy is shown to lower cortisol. Cortisol blocks the conversion of one of your thyroid hormones into the kind that control metabolism so we never want too much cortisol when we’re trying to power up our thyroid. Try incorporating a low-fat yogurt (my favorite is sheep’s milk Greek yogurt).
Other foods you can freely consume include:
One serving of grains and potatoes, the size of your fist (during the second week only): Millet, rice and rice products, buckwheat, rice pasta, rice cakes, rice crackers, potatoes or sweet potatoes. Have just one serving, the size of your fist, per day, at lunch or dinner, .
Vegetables: Unlimited amounts of all vegetables except corn. Potatoes including sweet potatoes and white potatoes are allowed during the second week only. All other starchy vegetables including squash, turnip, pumpkin, beets, carrots and peas are freely allowed in both weeks.
Fruits: All fruits except oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, canned fruits, raisins, dates and other non-organic dried fruits.
Beans: All beans are allowed.
Two handfuls of nuts and seeds: All nuts except for peanuts and all seeds are fine. Or have a tablespoon of nut butter (excluding peanut butter).
Fish and meat: All poultry (chicken, turkey, duck, etc.), fish and seafood are fine.
One serving of dairy (made from sheep or goat’s milk): Feta (made from sheep’s or goat’s milk), goat cheese or small amounts of butter.
Oils: Canola oil, flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil are the only oils you should consume.
Eggs: Both yolks and whites are allowed.
Milks: Oat, almond and rice milk fine, but avoid those with added sugar.
Sweeteners: Sugar alcohols and stevia are allowed.
Step 3: Eat a Cheat Meal on Day 14
While one part of this process involves becoming calorie conscious, studies have shown that eating a “cheat meal” about once a week is essential for people suffering from an underactive thyroid. It prevents the body from going into starvation mode when dieting, keeping your thyroid hormone T3 (the active type) high and boosting metabolism. I recommend having your cheat meal at the end of 10 to 14 days of my clean eating plan and then ongoing once a week.
For the complete plan, recipes and more visit drnatashaturner.com
This plan was originally created for Dr. Oz's Truth Tube. Get past expert Truth Tube plans here.