Feeling fog-brained, cold, body weakness, and overall just wiped out? Your body could be telling you something’s wrong that cannot be cured with caffeine and sleep. You could be suffering from low thyroid function. Otherwise known as hypothyroidism. According to the National Medical Journal, “Hypothyroidism affects up to 5% of the general population, with a further estimated 5% being undiagnosed. Over 99% of affected patients suffer from primary hypothyroidism”(Chiovato L, National Center For Biotechnology Information).
What is a thyroid, you ask?
The thyroid is a gland that produces the growth hormone and regulates body temperature, metabolism, and your body’s energy. Many with low-functioning thyroid experience unexplained weight gain/loss, extreme fatigue, sensitivity to extreme or even normal temperatures, and suffer from gastrointestinal issues, along with many other symptoms. Sounds fun, right? Ha. But wait there’s more…
Common Symptoms of Hypothyroidism :
- Extreme Fatigue
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Cognition Issues
- Intolerance to cold
- Puffy skin
- Brittle nails & Hair
- Stunted growth
- Menstrual/ Infertility issues
- And more…
Just think sleepy sloth, okay?
So there’s a fix, right?
The good news is, these symptoms are treatable. I say treatable because in my case, that’s the only thing I can do. This condition is not curable. I am a congenital hypothyroid patient. Which means I was born without one. It’s not common. Many are born with a non-functioning or low. I have yet to have met anyone with my exact condition (if you’re out there, I hope you’ve napped today).
Many with low-functioning thyroid and/or non-functioning take thyroid replacement hormones, typically known on the market as Synthroid and Levothyroxine. These medications replace the T-4 thyroid hormone, which is the main thyroid hormone that circulates in the bloodstream.
These hormones can be tracked by regular blood tests, which helps endocrinologists understand how much replacement hormone to prescribe to help hypothyroid patients function “normally”. I typically get tested at 6-month intervals. I have tried both of the ‘mainstream’ thyroid replacement hormones available on the market and I can’t say I’ve noticed a difference with either of them. The fatigue is still there, but it’s gotten better with proper exercise and diet. One thing I can say about managing my thyroid symptoms is that consistency is key. That means keeping a consistent sleep schedule, a thyroid-friendly diet, and making sure medication is taken at the same time each day, every day. Forever.
So, you mentioned diet?
Yes, there are certain foods to avoid and to eat more of to maintain healthy thyroid levels. Medical professionals and nutritionists recommend that to maintain proper thyroid function that it would be best to stick to probiotic foods, high protein, and fiber, and to avoid gluten and carbohydrates, along with gastrointestinal heavy foods. So think gluten-free meets keto.
If you’re stuck knowing what to make, I recommend grabbing yourself a copy of The Simple Thyroid Cookbook by Lulu Cook. Out of all the thyroid diet books I’ve read, this one has been the most helpful and has helped me develop an easy meal-prep menu while on a budget.
But here’s a brief overview of foods that promote healthy thyroid function.
Best advice ever I can give though, and this can go for overall health:
- Listen to YOUR body, and if concerned, consult an endocrinologist.
- Do your own research.
- Do NOT let anyone tell you what’s best for you because not everyone’s bodies react the same way. Some are very quick to give their medical input when they themselves have literally no medical background. (I openly admit that I have no medical background. I do, however, have 28 years of living with a non-functioning thyroid body and am still learning how to manage it along with the changes that come with age. The best I can do is tell you about my experience and provide my sources.
- Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for not being ‘fixable’. Ableism is just an excuse to be ignorant and arrogant to the fact that we are all humans who require different care. Those with Hyperthyroidism, Hashimotos, and Graves Disease are going to have a different treatment plan than those with hypothyroidism.
Helpful Books and Other Resources
The Women’s Guide to Thyroid Health by Kathryn R. Simpson, MS
Allarakha, Shaziya. “How Is Hashimoto’s Disease Different from Hypothyroidism?” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 27 Jan. 2022, https://www.medicinenet.com/how_is_hashimotos_different_from_hypothyroidism/article.htm.
Chiovato L, Magri F, Carlé A. Hypothyroidism in Context: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going. Adv Ther. 2019 Sep;36(Suppl 2):47-58. doi: 10.1007/s12325-019-01080-8. Epub 2019 Sep 4. PMID: 31485975; PMCID: PMC6822815.
Cunha , John P. “Can Hypothyroidism Be Cured? 36 Symptoms & Treatment.” EMedicineHealth, EMedicineHealth, 15 Apr. 2022, https://www.emedicinehealth.com/can_hypothyroidism_be_cured/article_em.htm.
Jones, Oliver. “The Thyroid Gland.” TeachMeAnatomy, Teach Me Anatomy, 2022, https://teachmeanatomy.info/neck/viscera/thyroid-gland/.
Schnur, Myrna B. “T3 And T4 – What’s the Difference?” Nursing Blog | Lippincott NursingCenter | T3 and T4 – What’s the Difference?, Lippincott Nursing Center, 18 May 2018, https://www.nursingcenter.com/ncblog/march-2018/t3-and-t4-%E2%80%93-what%E2%80%99s-the-difference.
Sinha, Dr. Anirban. “Hypothyroidism Diet Chart (Thyroid Diet): Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid.” Bajaj Finserv Health, Bajaj Finserv Health, 22 July 2022, https://www.bajajfinservhealth.in/articles/thyroid-diet.