My study of health through the years has convinced me that your first priority should be to check your thyroid function. Whatever kind of health concern that you might have or think you have, suspect your thyroid first.
Conventional medical folks pay little attention to iodine or thyroid function. Oh, they routinely run blood tests and report to the patient “normal thyroid.” But when an entire population has low thyroid function, and your tests come back right in the middle of the scale, are you normal? Maybe, but that’s certainly not optimal. In fact if the blood test shows that your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is 3 or higher, action is needed. This may be a red flag to alert to problems that you are having — problems like heart disease or cancer.
Low thyroid function can lead to metabolic changes that can raise cholesterol levels and gradually weaken the heart muscle and create heart disease.
Why is thyroid function so critical? The answer is that even a slightly underactive thyroid can be a causative factor of heart disease leading to a multitude of health problems and symptoms.
These symptoms include being overweight, having a slow heart rate, high blood pressure, heart failure, accelerated heart disease and cancer. The thyroid should also be the first suspect if one is experiencing fatigue, depression, weight gain, memory loss, hair loss, muscle cramps, dry skin, decreased libido, cold feet, confusion, delirium or even heart failure.
You should insist on an iodine loading test — especially if you are experiencing the symptoms above. And if your physician refuses or does not know what it is, you should find an iodine-knowledgeable healthcare provider who can test you both pre- and post-iodine supplementation and help you maintain proper levels.
Anyone can test themselves for hypothyroidism or iodine deficiency. Low basal (at rest) body temperature is an important sign of low thyroid function. For the most accurate reading, take your underarm temperature for three days in a row, in the mornings before you get out of bed. Figure the average of these three measurements. If you run as much as one degree or more below 98.6° (F) you can suspect you have hypothyroidism.
It is perfectly reasonable to request an iodine-loading test from your doctor. One way to perform a test is by just rubbing food-grade iodine (Lugol’s) on a small spot, maybe two inches, across the arm. If the iodine disappears overnight, you can take this to mean an iodine deficiency. Even when too much iodine is taken, it is excreted. And iodine has a detoxifying effect on the body.
Do not use synthetic thyroid hormone if your thyroid function is low. People feel better and get their sluggish organs working better by using either a natural thyroid hormone which contains actual thyroxine and triiodothyronine, or by using herbs like ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), which studies show raises serum levels of thyroid hormones by acting directly on the thyroid gland.
Once this is accomplished, you can concentrate on feeding your thyroid. I always recommend proper health through proper nutrition first. The foods that feed the thyroid are:
- Animal protein from pastured beef, eggs from range chickens, mercury-free fish and shellfish, cheeses, eggs and dairy, as well as protein in fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts help support healthy thyroid function.
- Fresh organic produce from leafy greens, green beans, colorful vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and non-gluten grains such as brown rice, oats, buckwheat, quinoa, cornmeal, sorghum, and amaranth.
- Healthy oils such as coconut oil, avocado, olive oil and others high in omega-3.
To make sure you don’t inadvertently stop the healthy effects of pro-thyroid foods and supplements, you should also be aware that drinking coffee within 30 minutes of thyroid hormone supplementation blocks intestinal absorption of thyroid hormone. Antacids, calcium and iron supplements taken within two hours of thyroid hormone can have a similar effect.