A slow thyroid could be to blame for a host of ailments, counteracted by a thyroid diet plan
FOR PATIENTS WHO STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL FOGGINESS, feeling cold most of the time, and an inability to shed pounds — even when they’re following a disciplined regimen — it’s very likely they are dealing with a slow thyroid.
You may notice symptoms of slow thyroid particularly in older patients, although it can strike anyone. One of the problems of thyroid disorders is that it can lead to a frustrating constellation of symptoms.
Slow thyroid activity
Official statistics tag the prevalence of hypothyroidism at approximately 5% of the population, or about five in every 100 people, but it may be commonly under-diagnosed. That’s not surprising, because hypothyroidism can mimic, and be connected to, a variety of other conditions. (see figure 1) .1,2 And older people aren’t the only ones affected; subclinical hypothyroidism — slow thyroid activity that is tougher to pin down — can increase the risk of heart failure, cerebrovascular disease and coronary disease in individuals under 65 years old. 3
The link between thyroid dysfunction and cardiovascular disease appears to show that the greater the problem with thyroid hormones, the higher the risk.4-6 In fact, thyroid hormones can improve myocardial function following an acute infarction, which illustrates how these bodily systems relate back to each other in complex ways. Researchers are calling for clinical trials to examine this relationship further.
In addition to heart conditions, there is a noted connection between thyroid abnormalities and breast cancer.⁷ Iodine intake — or lack thereof — may be a factor. With iodine intake, at best, holding steady at low levels, it may be no wonder that one in eight American women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. 8
Hypothyroidism may also be related to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. The actions of a dysfunctional immune response may trigger a subclinical level of thyroid hormone production. Patients who complain of aching joints and an overall lack of vitality may actually be battling two conditions. 9,10
Lack of iodine = sluggish thyroid
There was a time when iodine as a medicine was commonplace, but iodine consumption was still low. The connection between these dietary deficits and goiter was a major reason for iodizing salt following World War I. Because of this, you may have patients who figure that they’re getting enough iodine through table salt alone. But small amounts of table salt aren’t going to provide the thyroid benefits they need.
The daily recommended value of iodine for non-pregnant or lactating adults is 150 mcg. The average intake, according to the National Institutes of Health, hovers between 138 to 353 mcg across all age groups. 11
While that base level is fine for avoiding goiter, it may not be enough to overcome subclinical thyroid issues for anyone with absorption or utilization issues. There is also concern that even in developed nations that have tried to overcome iodine deficiencies, people still aren’t getting enough through diet alone. Older patients or those who are vegetarian (unless they frequently consume kelp) could be especially at risk. 12-14
Foods and supplementation
Aside from the challenge of intakes that just barely reach the adequate level, iodine has a lot of competition from the environment. Many chemicals, including bromines in baked goods, fluoride in water, and chlorine used to bleach coffee filters and tea bags, all block iodine receptors in the body.
This means that recommending supplemental iodine to patients to help overcome a sluggish thyroid is likely the best course. After all, in healthy adults 70-80% of the minerals in the entire body are found in the thyroid gland alone. Insufficient levels of iodine are certain to cause a decrease in the formation of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). There’s no way around it — iodine is critical, and it’s often been ignored or avoided by conventional practice. 15
For patients with slow thyroid, L-tyrosine is another important nutrient for rebooting its function. While found in protein-rich food sources like cheese, eggs and almonds — and it’s fairly concentrated in whey protein — it’s possible that individuals on a low-fat diet aren’t getting nearly enough of this amino acid. And even for those who do have a varied and rich diet, those sources may not be enough to help synthesize thyroid hormones.16
Your patients need your insights and practice. If they’ve taken conventional thyroid hormone tests, the results may have just skimmed the surface. When people test normal for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and T4, but aren’t good converters of T4 to T3, they have a lot of inactive thyroid hormone in their bodies. They test “normal” but continue to have symptoms of hypothyroidism. This is an opportunity for practitioners to do what they do best: Treat the patient, and not the number.
With the right regimen of iodine and L-tyrosine, your patients’ thyroid function can be restored — along with their energy levels, circulation and metabolism. Ultimately, it will make an incredible difference in their vitality and good health in all areas of life.
TERRY LEMEROND is a natural health expert with more than 45 years of experience. He has owned health food stores, founded dietary supplement companies, and formulated more than 400 products. A published author, Terry appears on radio and television, and is a frequent guest speaker. He can be contacted through euromedicausa.com.
“Hypothyroidism (Underactive Thyroid).” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/endocrine-diseases/hypothyroidism. Accessed: February 6, 2019.
Golden SH, Robinson KA, Saldanha I, Anton B, Ladenson PW. Prevalence and incidence of endocrine and metabolic disorders in the United States: a comprehensive review. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2009;94(6):1853–1878.
Redford C, Vaidya B. Subclinical hypothyroidism: Should we treat? Post Reprod Health. 2017 Jun;23(2):55-62.
Jabbar A, Pingitore A, Pearce SH, Zaman A, Iervasi G, Razvi S. Thyroid hormones and cardiovascular disease. Nat Rev Cardiol. 2017 Jan;14(1):39-55.
Baumgartner C, da Costa BR, Collet TH, et al. Thyroid Function Within the Normal Range, Subclinical Hypothyroidism, and the Risk of Atrial Fibrillation. Circulation. 2017 Nov 28;136(22):2100-2116.
Kannan L, Shaw PA, Morley MP, et al. Thyroid Dysfunction in Heart Failure and Cardiovascular Outcomes. Circ Heart Fail. 2018 Dec;11(12):e005266.
Rappaport J. Changes in Dietary Iodine Explains Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer with Distant Involvement in Young Women. J Cancer. 2017;8(2):174-177.
“U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics” Breast Cancer.org. Available at: https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics. Accessed: February 18, 2019.
Joshi P, Agarwal A, Vyas S, Kumar R. Prevalence of hypothyroidism in rheumatoid arthritis and its correlation with disease activity. Trop Doct. 2017 Jan;47(1):6-10. Epub 2016 Jan 20.
Anoop J, Geetha F, Jyothi I, Rekha P, Shobha V. Unravelling thyroid dysfunction in rheumatoid arthritis: History matters. Int J Rheum Dis. 2018 Mar;21(3):688-692.
“Iodine: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals” National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Available at: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/iodine-healthprofessional/. Accessed: February 20, 2019.
Vanderpump MP. Epidemiology of iodine deficiency. Minerva Med. 2017 Apr;108(2):116-123.
Triggiani V, Tafaro E, Giagulli VA, et al. Role of iodine, selenium and other micronutrients in thyroid function and disorders. Endocr Metab Immune Disord Drug Targets. 2009;9(3):277-94.
Mammen JS, McGready J, Ladenson PW, Simonsick EM. Unstable Thyroid Function in Older Adults Is Caused by Alterations in Both Thyroid and Pituitary Physiology and Is Associated with Increased Mortality. Thyroid. 2017 Nov;27(11):1370-1377.
Choudhry H, Nasrullah M. Iodine consumption and cognitive performance: Confirmation of adequate consumption. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Jun 1;6(6):1341-1351.
L-tyrosine. In: Hendler SS, ed. PDR for Nutritional Supplements. 2nd ed. Montvale, NJ: Physician’s Desk Reference; 2008:396.