Disclaimer: Before self diagnosing yourself with an underactive thyroid, get to your doctor and request a blood test! The hormonal panel test you request should include T3, T4 and TSH (Thyroid-Stimulating Hormone). T3 and T4 hormones regulate the rate of metabolism, while TSH regulates the output of these hormones.
If your test shows you’re below the healthy range in one or all of these three, then you may be a candidate for T3/T4 therapy and can be prescribed them via pharmacological means. Even though I’d prefer to address the issue naturally first, if you’re low enough that your doctor recommends it, by all means listen to him/her! However, if you’re low but still in range, it’s unlikely a prescription is forthcoming from your physician. In that case, here are some natural ways to go about reviving the metabolism of your youth!
1. First off, don’t starve yourself! I’m not going to get into the medical mumbo jumbo behind this, but if your calories drop too low for any extended length of time, your body will kick in its survival defence mechanism and slow fat loss to a crawl. Some studies suggest your body actually uses lean body mass for energy in these circumstances, since it’s a more readily available energy source. BAD. Eat frequent, small meals throughout the day.
2. Get your sweat on daily. For optimal thyroid function, you must exercise (at a minimum of three days a week). I strongly suggest working out every day so your thyroid gets a boost daily. That doesn’t necessarily mean lifting weights, as there’s plenty of alternatives including biking, swimming, jogging, and even walking (if you’re going about it briskly!). Any form of cardio, really.
3. Eat seafood! The following provide good sources of dietary iodine, which stimulates production of thyroid hormone output: Canned sardines, canned tuna, clams, cod, haddock, halibut, herring, lobster, oyster, perch, salmon, sea bass, and shrimp.
4. Avoid pairing foods called goitrogens with your meals containing seafood, as they’ll negate the absorption and lower thyroid function. *Although, studies suggest cooking these foods inactivates their anti-thyroid properties, still eat them in moderation. The list of foods to avoid include cauliflower, pears, almonds, corn, Brussels sprouts, mustard, cabbage, kale, broccoli, peaches, canola oil, peanuts and spinach.
4. Take your vitamins. Iodine supplementation is available OTC as “Kelp” (seaweed). Combining kelp with a tyrosine supplement provides a synergistic approach to boosting thyroid function. Iodine and tyrosine are responsible for synthesizing T3 and T4. According to the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, less than 20 mcg per day of iodine results in iodine deficiency; while an iodine intake 20 times greater than the daily requirement (2 mg) results in chronic iodine toxicity. Source. Like anything, use in moderation. More isn’t necessarily better, though kelp supplements usually come in small increments of 150 mcg per tablet so overdosing would require a steady diet of pills daily. 2-3 tabs a day should be enough to get things started in the right direction.