By Jasmine Sufi, Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner
Can a Detox Help Your Thyroid
In recent years, I’ve found that thyroid concerns, specifically underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) has become more regularly diagnosed and treated amongst my clients I wanted to investigate what would impact this sudden increase and what we can do to have a healthier thyroid. We are heavily impacted by what we eat and our environment, today’s article will discuss the benefits to detoxes and how it can aid in a better functioning thyroid.
The thyroid a tiny little gland located within our neck it is responsible for creating hormones called T4 and a small amount of T3. The thyroid creates these hormones as a response to the brain releasing Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH), once T4 and some T3 are created it travels through the blood stream where T4 is converted into T3 in the liver and gut. T3 is the active form of the thyroid hormone that the body can use and metabolize (whereas T4 cannot be used by the body readily). It is T3 that allows for every cell in our body to convert energy and function normally and for this reason the liver and gut function are essential for the optimal functioning of the thyroid!
So why is the liver so important? The liver is the organ that mops and cleans our blood of toxins. All of our blood flow through the liver to rid itself of waste produced by the body or toxins that we have ingested. The liver removes these unwanted items and gets rid of it through the digestive system or kidneys being eliminated through stools or urine. It plays an important role in de-toxifying our body’s naturally, ensuring there isn’t a buildup of toxins within our bodies.
The digestive tract (the gut) is the centre of our wellbeing. It allows us to process and digest food to convert it into usable energy for our cells, it is responsible for our immune system and contains trillions of healthy bacteria that help us function on a daily basis. Like the liver, it also metabolizes waste and toxins and secretes them and like the liver also is a source of conversion of T4 hormones into T3 hormones from the thyroid.
There are many factors that can put both our liver and gut in overdrive, injuring them and impacting their function negatively. Long term use of medication, stress, pesticides, processed foods, antibiotics all cause the liver to work in overdrive and damage the delicate balance of our micro flora (gut bacteria) in our digestive tract. Because the health and wellbeing of the thyroid and its production and conversion of hormones is intricately connected to both the liver and digestive tract, properly managed detox regimens would be beneficial in maintaining a healthy liver and gut and intern a healthy thyroid.
So what can we do to help our thyroid?
Improve that sluggish gut:
Maintain a regular regimen of probiotics – Ensure that it has Human Micro Flora (HMF). This will counteract the effects of stress, medication, environmental pollutants that may upset the balance of the intestinal flora (the natural bacteria within our gut).
Maintain regular bowel habits – Everyone’s normal is a little different but a bowel movement 1-3 times a day is considered normal. If bowels are slower than daily then consider increased fiber (apples, beans,whole grains and nuts like almonds) intake, other foods that can ensure proper elimination include dried fruits like prunes.
Ensure proper nutrient content in our diet:
Try and maintain a diet filled with iron (red meat, dark green vegetables and beans), iodine (such as iodized salt), selenium (mushrooms, brown rice, sunflower seeds), zinc (beef, pumpkin seeds) and Vitamin B12 (eggs, milk, cheese). As deficiencies in these vitamins will not allow the thyroid to function optimally.
Maintain a healthy Liver:
The liver functions to detox the body. It works hard to eliminate what the body doesn’t need and works harder if we ingest environmental toxins, alcohol or medications. Foods that help the liver regenerate and repair itself while also aiding in helping the liver detoxify include: garlic, grapefruit, green tea, dark green leafy vegetables, turmeric, avocados and walnuts.
Decrease stress levels:
When the body is stressed, the body’s natural response is to produce a hormone called cortisol. This allows us to be more alert. High levels of cortisol or prolonged stress levels have been shown to decrease the conversion of T3 within the gut and liver. Decrease stress levels with regular exercise, meditation, yoga, acupuncture, massage and any activity that brings joy and takes you away from the daily grind.
While I am not usually an advocate of fad detox programs, there are great practitioners that can guide you in a proper detox program that will optimize your liver, help your digestion and maintain a healthy thyroid. Not all thyroid problems have to be medicated and a proper detox program along with the appropriate diet may help resolve mild cases of thyroid symptoms. Unfortunately there isn’t a one program fits all fix for the thyroid as with most health concerns. Please seek the advice of a professional such as a Naturopathic Doctor to obtain the best and safest results.