“Why am I so Tired and Sleepy?”

WOMAN ASLEEP Do you feel like you could sleep forever and still be tired? Do you seem to almost always suffer with cold hands and feet? Did you ask your doctor if he thinks there could be a problem with your thyroid but the tests come back as normal?

You could have a dysfunctional thyroid.  Dr. John Lowe (Director of Research at the Fibromyalgia Research Foundation) went so far as to say that he believed fibromyalgia was a hidden hypothyroid problem. The Mayo Clinic stated it another way, “One cause of hypothyroidism is autoimmune disease.”

Unfortunately, most medical doctors only go by the results of TSH tests. There are ways you can determine if you have a dysfunctional thyroid, and one of the easiest of these is to take your temperature three times a day (starting three hours after you get up in the morning). If your average temperature for the day is considerably less than 98.6 degree Fahrenheit or 37 degree Celsius, then there is likely something upsetting the normal function of your thyroid gland.

The major function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormones. The thyroid uses iodine to make thyroid hormone; however, if sufficient iodine is not available in the diet, the thyroid may produce an insufficient amount of hormone.

It is not hard to understand why there has been a rise in iodine deficiency problems in this generation. We have so many environmental issues to deal with…such as our municipal water services and additives to our foods and personal care products.

As a result of manufacturing and other issues, our thyroid glands are being depleted of iodine (See my blog Iodine and Hormonal Imbalance…June 3, 2015).

To supplement your diet with iodine, it is best to take iodine in its natural raw form, such as Norwegian Kelp that is from waters not affected by heavy metals.

Iodine does not have to be in high doses in order to be effective…taking higher doses of iodine than you need can actually lead to more problems; that is why kelp is such a good source.

My nutritionist advises taking iodine in doses of less than one milligram; she recommends taking doses measured in micrograms to be safe. The Institute of Medicine has established the recommended total dietary allowance, or RDA, for iodine to be 150 mcg daily.

The thyroid gland is a very important and complex gland. If you are having problems and your doctor goes only by tests, a naturopathic doctor that will look at the whole person as well as test results may be your better choice.

Diet can also affect thyroid function by suppressing the thyroid gland’s production of hormones…even if you are taking thyroid   hormone medication.

Goitrogenic Foods

Though Goitrogenic foods contain a substance that can slow down thyroid hormone production, they do not affect anyone that is not prone to thyroid dysfunction.

Normally healthy cruciferous vegetables all contain goitrogens.   These include cabbages, such as napa cabbage, bok choy and Brussel sprouts; broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and collard, mustard and turnip greens. But you can still enjoy these healthy foods by eating them steamed or cooked, as the heat alters the molecular structure and eliminates the goitrogenic effect.

While it is true that there are “potentially goitrogenic” compounds present in small amounts in soy, peanuts, pine nuts, millet, peaches, strawberries, spinach, and cassava root etc…they are in such minute amounts that they are not likely to have a great impact on thyroid health unless eaten in great quantities over a length of time.

Fermenting soy disables the goitrogenic isoflavones found in soy foods, but it is advisable for you to cook soy products.

Gluten

It may surprise you to see gluten on this list of potential goitrogens, but the truth is that gluten sensitivity contributes to a wide range of autoimmune responses…including autoimmune thyroid disease. If you think you may be gluten intolerant, it is advisable to be tested for gluten intolerance before you go on the gluten free diet. If you see great help from eliminating gluten from your diet, you will likely not want to return to eating gluten and suffering its consequences just so you can take a test to see if you are gluten intolerant.

Taking thyroid medication and regulating the use of goitrogens in your diet, will not restore iodine nutrition; you will still need to supplement your iodine intake through some means…such as through foods high in iodine or through supplementation.

Talk to your nutritionist about any concerns you may have about thyroid hormone function and iodine involvement.

Your nutritionist may also be able to tell you where you may find a naturopathic doctor in your area.