Thyroid disease is becoming a major health issue in the U.S. Did you know that 20 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of thyroid disease? 14 million of those have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease. When I first read these stats, I was shocked. We need to raise awareness and help others get to the root of their health issues so we can turn this trend around!
January is Thyroid Awareness Month, so I wanted to write a post today to help point you, your friends and family members in the right direction. These are many of the steps and resources I used to help me while I worked to reverse Hashimoto’s disease. If the list is overwhelming, think about finding just one change or resource each week. After about 6 months, you’ll have made a wealth of changes and will hopefully be on your way to better health.
1. Eat a diet rich in omega-3s – Omega-3s help reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system. My nutritionist says our ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 intake should be between 2:1 and 1:1 to maintain a healthy immune system and reduce inflammation. You can find omega-3s in foods like grass-fed butter, pastured/organic meats (beef, chicken, duck, lamb, etc.), wild fish (not farmed), organic eggs, unprocessed/pastured milk and cream, ghee and duck fat.
2. Cook goitrogenic vegetables before eating – Kale, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, and mustard greens should be cooked before eating because when eaten raw they can suppress thyroid function.
3. Drop the gluten and grains – When grains enter the body, they cause the insulin levels in the blood to rise. When they are eaten in excess over time, the body becomes overtaxed, and eventually the excessive grains can cause inflammation. Inflammation is the root cause of autoimmune disease. A grain-free diet rich in nourishing foods gives the body time to rest, heal and reduce inflammation.
4. Take fermented cod liver oil daily – Cod liver oil can help reduce inflammation and provide necessary Vitamin A and D to help your body detox.
5. Castor Oil Packs – While recovering from Hashimoto’s disease, I put a castor oil pack over my thyroid for about 1 hour each day. I then put the pack over my liver. When used properly, castor oil packs stimulate detoxification. Here’s a post I wrote on the topic along with instructions to get started.
6. Exercise, but not too much – If you’re struggling with thyroid disease, you’re probably also dealing with inflammation. Strenuous exercise can induce inflammation, so it’s better to stick with yoga, pilates, walking, light weightlifting, etc.
7. Get in the sun without sunscreen – Sunlight can help reduce inflammation and nourish the thyroid.
8. Eat seafood and sea vegetables – The iodine in the seafood and sea vegetables can help nourish the thyroid.
9. Read the book, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause – Dr. Wentz discusses how to find your root cause of your disease and how to treat it.
10. Test more than just your TSH level – A “normal” TSH doesn’t really mean much. Why? Because TSH measures a specific output of the pituitary gland and thyroid disease is way more complicated than that. Here’s a list of labs to talk with your doctor about: Free T3, Free T4, Reverse T3, Vitamin D3, anti-TPO, TgAb, Adrenal Cortisol levels, MTHFR gene, B-12, and Folate.
11. Find a holistic practitioner to work with – Here are some resources to help you find a practitioner in your area:
Nutritional Therapy Practitioners
12. Watch the Thyroid Sessions – Sean Croxton from Underground Wellness brought together some of the leading experts on thyroid disease to teach people how to heal from thyroid disease.
13. Drink Bone Broth – It’s easy, it’s cheap and it contains a wealth of nutrients to help reduce inflammation. Here’s some more info on this topic.
14. Remove ALL processed foods from your diet – Eat traditionally prepared, real foods – foods free of pesticides, herbicides, and all chemicals are ideal. I know this may sound extreme, but to give the body time to rest and heal, nourish it with the right foods. I’ve walked down this path and, yes, it can be frustrating at times, but after seeing how foods can heal, I would certainly do it all again. If you need help with this, I have hundreds of recipes on my blog and also over 125 grain-free, nutrient-dense recipes in my new cookbook – The Grain-Free Family Table. If you own my first cookbook, Deliciously Organic, click here to download the grain-free adaptations for free.
15. Don’t eat soy (except for traditionally fermented soy like Nama Shoyu) – Soy can be an endocrine disruptor and suppress thyroid function so it’s best to avoid all processed soy.
16. Try dry brushing – Dry brushing is easy, only takes about 1 minute to complete, and can help drain the lymphatic system.
17. Eat pastured, grass-fed, organic animal foods – Foods derived from animals raised 100% on pasture (and wild animals) are anti-inflammatory.
18. Add grass-fed gelatin to your diet – Gelatin has also been shown to benefit the digestive tract, immune system, heart, liver, muscles, and skin. It also helps aid in detoxification. It’s odorless and flavorless so it can be added to any type of dish. It’s important to purchase from the right source, though. Bernard Jensen and Great Lakes gelatins both come from grass-fed animals and don’t contain MSG (most other brands of gelatin contain MSG).
19. Eat saturated fats at every meal – I could go on for days about the many benefits of saturated fats from the right sources: organic butter, coconut oil, ghee, lard, tallow, etc. In a nutshell, they help reduce inflammation and nourish the body. Here’s a fantastic resource with dozens of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the health benefits of saturated fats.
20. Use healthy cookware and bakeware – Most of us spend lots of time addressing the foods we eat but very little time thinking about the pots and pans we cook and bake them in. Take a look at your cookware and bakeware – make sure it doesn’t contain metals or chemicals that might leach into your food.
21. Make sure you get enough vitamin D – Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to numerous autoimmune disorders so it’s important to know your vitamin D levels and make sure you’re getting enough.
22. Heal your gut – Healing the gut is one of the first steps to help reduce inflammation and heal the thyroid. Here’s a great podcast on this topic.
23. Eat fermented foods – Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi contain millions of healthy probiotics. They’re easy to make at home, too. I consume 1-2 tablespoons at each meal.
24. Take probiotics – 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, so a good probiotic can help aid the immune system. Here’s one of my favorite brands.
25. Anytime you take a prescription drug, over-the-counter drug or get a vaccine, read the insert and know the ingredients you’re putting into your body – You might find gluten, egg, soy, bovine cells, pig cells, human cells, heavy metals, etc. used in these products. Depending on your condition, you might consider other alternatives.
26. De-stress – I’ve never been good at this one, but I’ve learned the hard way that it’s really ultra-important – Stress can cause your thyroid to perform at a sub-optimum level. Do what you need to do to relieve the stress in your life.
27. Read the Hypothyroid Mom blog – Dana’s site is a wonderful resource for anyone dealing with thyroid disease.
28. Find a thyroid support group on Facebook – There are dozens of them and they can be encouraging and very helpful.
29. If you can tolerate dairy, consume unprocessed/raw, pastured dairy – Unprocessed or raw dairy can provide a wealth of nutrients and help reduce inflammation. I never needed to give up raw dairy during my recovery and I found it a helpful source of omega-3, Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B.
30. Detox your skin and body care products – Read the ingredients and cut out products containing synthetic chemicals and other ingredients that could be harmful to your thyroid. The substances we put on our skin can get into the bloodstream, so the lotion or lipstick you use every day could be causing a negative effect on your system. Here’s a list of the skincare products we use in our home.
31. Reduce your caffeine consumption – Caffeine can cause stress on the adrenal glands which can in turn cause stress on the thyroid. It’s a good idea to decrease your coffee consumption, enjoying it only occasionally.
32. Eat unprocessed sea salt – Conventional salt is a processed food that usually contains anti-caking agents and dextrose (a sugar derived from corn) gets bleached. An unprocessed salt, like Celtic Sea Salt provides about 80 different minerals for the body.
33. Read Chris Kresser’s thyroid posts – He’s got some great articles on the thyroid, gut and reducing inflammation.
34. Consider having your amalgam fillings removed – Amalgam fillings can cause inflammation in the system as they continue to off-gas each time you eat or drink. If you get them removed, it’s imperative you go to a dentist who is trained to remove them safely (I learned this the hard way). If you have them removed, follow the advice of your dentist and also follow up with a heavy metal detox protocol. My favorite is The 5-Day Dental Detox written by Dr. Louisa Williams.
35. Get genetic testing – I got genetic testing done at 23&Me and then had it analyzed by a professional who is trained in this area of study. The results opened up a whole world of answers for me! It was truly invaluable to learn about my gene mutations and how I can aid my body to methalate more efficiently.
36. Watch The Thyroid Summit – Dr. Cohen brought together some of the leading experts on thyroid disease to help you gain access to the information you need to optimize thyroid function and stop suffering.
37. Take this quiz – What’s Your Thyroid Healing Type and get your free report – There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to healing thyroid and autoimmune disease. It’s a very personal journey, taking you through different phases. When you understand where you are in the healing journey, you can customize a protocol to fit YOUR unique body and lifestyle – and potentially reverse your thyroid disease once and for all.
38. Try Essential Oils – I’ve found essential oils to be incredibly helpful. Diffusing Myrrh and Lemongrass can be helpful if you need some thyroid support.
39. Check Your Adrenals – Adrenal issues and thyroid disease can go hand-in-hand. The thyroid needs the adrenals to be working properly – sending the right signals to the thyroid to secrete the proper amount of hormones. A saliva cortisol test (you can order a kit here) is a great place to start.
40. Remove all sugar from your diet – Sugars can cause inflammation in the body, so it’s a good idea to remove them from your diet to give your body more resources for rest and healing.
41. Make sure you’re getting enough carbohydrates – Sometimes when eating a grain-free diet, you can get too few carbohydrates to fuel the adrenals and other organs of the body. Try various quantities of carbs to find the right balance for your body.
42. Get LOTS of Vitamin A from animal sources in your diet – It’s a huge misconception that vitamin A can be found in plants. Vitamin A is only found in animal foods. You can get this vitamin by eating animal foods such as grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, pastured eggs, organic butter, organic lard, wild game, etc.
43. Watch “Your Best Thyroid Life” – My friend and colleague, Jen Wittman, created a new resource called Your Best Thyroid Life to provide practical strategies for managing thyroid and autoimmune disease despite a busy life. I’m a featured speaker for it too. Watch Jen and I and almost 25 health experts as we break through the potentially overwhelming confusion, sharing exactly what works in the real world to encourage healing.
44. Use coconut oil in your cooking and baking – Coconut oil can help reduce inflammation which will in turn help thyroid health.
45. Read this article by the Weston Price Foundation – It discusses alternatives to medicine for treating thyroid problems, the tests necessary to establish the health of the thyroid and the different types of Hypothyroidism.
46. Read the book, Why Do I Still Have Thyroid Symptoms? When My Lab Tests Are Normal?: A revolutionary breakthrough in understanding Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism” by Dr. Datis Kharrazian – Through exhaustive research and clinical experience, Dr. Kharrazian has discovered what really causes hypothyroidism and how to manage it.
47. Read the book, Deep Nutrition by Dr. Cate Shanahan – This book helped me understand how imperative a nutrient-dense diet is for our health. It’s a must read!
48. Find your root cause – Hashimoto’s is a thyroid autoimmune disease, but the reason why the immune system is attacking the thyroid may be different for each person.
My husband was the one who figured out my root cause. We were sitting at home one evening (just a few months after I started working with my holistic nutritionist) and he said, “Carrie, none of this makes sense. You were totally fine and then suddenly your health went downhill.” He got out a calendar and started tracing back. He backtracked to the day I had an amalgam filling (improperly) removed and said, “Look! This was the day it all started.” I took this information to my practitioner, we did some testing, and we discovered an overabundance of heavy metals. From that point on, we focused on gentle detox to aid the natural healing process. Other reasons why your thyroid might not be working at the optimum level: viral infection, bacterial infection, stress, too much radiation for your body (from cell phones, wifi, etc.), or toxicity.
49. Get at least 8 hours of sleep – The body repairs, heals, detoxes, etc. while you sleep, so it’s important to get enough to help your body rest and do its job.
50. Read The Grain-Free Family Table – I wrote this book after reversing Hashimoto’s disease using a grain-free, nutrient-dense diet. It contains recipes, resources, and encouragement for your journey.
Many of you have written to tell me about your recovery from thyroid problems. What are your best tips and resources? Please share so we can all learn from one another!
Disclaimer: This information is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your condition.
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