Simple treatment you can start right now

If you are suffering from weight gain, hair loss, exhaustion, depression, mental fog, constipation fibromyalgia and even heart disease, you may have a thyroid condition. Thyroid problems can be hard to diagnose initially, because routine thyroid function blood testing does not always reveal abnormal thyroid hormones until your symptoms are well established. It is important to see your doctor if you have these ongoing symptoms for a full assessment for other conditions too. Sometimes, it is not until patients have been suffering from symptoms for years, that their thyroid blood tests eventually show abnormalities.

Why do millions of people around the world suffer from thyroid disease? Two common factors that contribute to thyroid disease, are gluten sensitivity and iodine deficiency, both easily treated.

Iodine deficiency

Adequate levels of iodine are essential for normal thyroid function. Iodine is found in fish, seaweeds, iodised salt, eggs, and in some countries, milk and its products. Next to iron, iodine deficiency is the second most widespread nutritional deficiency in the world. A diet with little or no fish, can be the cause of iodine deficiency. Japanese cuisine is an excellent source of iodine, due to the number of dishes that contain seaweed. Adding seaweed to your diet increases iodine intake as well as seafood.

Gluten sensitivity

Studies show a strong link between both Hashimoto’s, Graves Disease and gluten, to the point where researchers are suggesting all people who have autoimmune thyroid disease be tested for sensitivity to gluten. This does not mean you have coeliac disease.

Gluten contributes to thyroid disease because the protein molecule in gluten closely resembles the structure of thyroid gland cells. When the immune system recognises the presence of similar, (but non-thyroid) cells, it develops antibodies to destroy them, and with it, destroys thyroid cells.

You can check for gluten sensitivity with your health professional, or just try going without gluten for a few weeks. Many people report feeling better within a short period of time after going gluten-free. If you feel the benefit, is important to remain gluten-free for at least six months. Even though you may feel better and think ‘just a little bit won’t matter’, the immune reaction to gluten lasts for up to six months after you have eaten gluten-containing foods.

Some people find going gluten-free a real inconvenience, but it is becoming much easier, with a wide range of gluten-free breads, cakes and biscuits being more easily available. Check food labels thoroughly.

Professional help

If you suspect you have a thyroid condition, it is no time to go it alone – a health professional can order tests and start thyroid-specific supplements which will include iodine and other important thyroid nutrients. In the meantime, you can safely try going gluten-free and adding iodine-rich foods to your diet.