Science Explains How to Jump-Start Sluggish Thyroid to Burn Fat and Boost Metabolism

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Thyroid Hormones TSH TRH
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Natural thyroid treatment involves changes to your diet, taking thyroid supplements, or using home remedies for thyroid health. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, you will probably need to continue thyroid treatment by your doctor to maintain normal levels of thyroid hormones. However, there are many natural treatments to help treat or manage a sluggish thyroid.

For example, a hypothyroidism diet means avoiding certain foods such as soy and gluten that may interfere with thyroid function. Also, consuming foods for thyroid health such as ones rich in selenium, zinc, and vitamins may help to improve your thyroid condition naturally. Other ways to treat an underactive thyroid include supplements for hypothyroidism such as ashwagandha, iron, or turmeric.

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In this article, you will find out about the best natural remedies for hypothyroidism and if these thyroid treatments are backed by science. You will also learn about foods to include and foods to avoid with hypothyroidism.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is a condition where your thyroid gland doesn’t work properly and doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Often, hypothyroidism is referred to as an underactive thyroid.

Doctors diagnose hypothyroidism using a blood test to check for levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). If TSH levels are too high, the thyroid can become sluggish and stop producing enough thyroid hormone.

Traditional thyroid treatment involves hormone replacement therapy to increase levels of thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). (1)

Using natural treatments for hypothyroidism may help to make you feel better if you have very mild symptoms of a sluggish thyroid (subclinical hypothyroidism). However, doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that diet alone can’t cure hypothyroidism. (2)

The Cleveland Clinic says that Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is an autoimmune condition that results in hypothyroidism. (3)

What are Some Hypothyroidism Symptoms?

Checking your TSH levels (as well thyroid hormones) is the best way to confirm a diagnosis of hypothyroidism. However, a person will usually have various symptoms that their thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone.

The European Journal of Endocrinology reports that some of the most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid include fatigue, shortness of breath, and dry skin. (4)

Other signs that you may need natural thyroid support because of a slow thyroid can include moderate weight gain, hair loss, enlarged thyroid (goiter), brain fog, or joint pain. (5)

Find out about more signs that show you may be suffering from a thyroid disorder.

What is the Conventional Treatment for Hypothyroidism?

Treating a thyroid hormone deficiency usually requires prescribing hormone replacement therapy.

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Doctors will usually prescribe the drug levothyroxine if blood tests show high TSH levels and low T4 levels. However, some signs of hypothyroidism can show up if TSH levels are raised and T4 is within the normal range. (6)

The purpose of traditional thyroid treatment is to increase T4 hormone levels within the normal range. To find out more about T3 and T4, please read my complete guide to thyroid hormones T3 and T4.

What are Natural Thyroid Treatments?

If you take medication for hypothyroidism, you may find it helpful to also use natural remedies for thyroid disorders. Although there is no natural thyroid medication that doctors recommend, holistic treatments for hypothyroidism can help to improve your thyroid condition.

Just make sure to consult with your doctor before taking any natural supplements as some of them may interfere with medications.

Iodine is Essential for Proper Thyroid Function

Iodine is not a natural alternative to levothyroxine, but your thyroid needs iodine to produce enough hormones.

Researchers say that T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) are iodine-containing hormones. An iodine deficiency can result in a sluggish thyroid and symptoms of hypothyroidism. It is important to remember that iodine deficiencies are quite rare in developed countries. (7)

Sources of foods containing iodine that can prevent iodine-related hypothyroidism include seafood, kelp, dairy products, and salt fortified with iodine.

It is also important to remember that too much iodine can also result in thyroid dysfunction. (7)

You should always speak to your doctor before taking iodine supplements for an underactive thyroid.

Further reading: Proven Health Benefits of Kelp: For Thyroid, Weight Loss, Heart Health and More.

Selenium and Thyroid Function

Selenium is among the natural supplements for hypothyroidism as the mineral helps to metabolize thyroid hormones.

The International Journal of Endocrinology reported in 2017 that selenium can help improve symptoms of autoimmune thyroiditis. Some studies show that taking selenium supplements for thyroid helped to improve thyroid function and improve a patient’s quality of life. (8)

Scientists say that you should maintain appropriate levels of selenium to prevent thyroid disease. Selenium supplementation can benefit people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism). (9)

Foods rich in selenium include Brazil nuts, oily fish, seafood, turkey, beef, eggs, and brown rice. (10)

Before taking selenium to help treat hypothyroidism naturally, you should speak with your doctor to see how the nutrient may affect your thyroid medication.

Zinc as a Thyroid Supplement for Hypothyroidism

Taking zinc can be helpful for a low thyroid because zinc deficiencies are common in people with a sluggish thyroid.

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Researchers report that zinc promotes good thyroid function and helps produce thyroid hormones. A zinc deficiency can result in an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, you need to have enough thyroid hormone to absorb zinc properly. (11)

One case showed that zinc supplementation for hypothyroidism helped improve skin condition, reversed hair loss, and treated depression. Because zinc deficiency was the root cause of the thyroid condition, supplementation, in this case, was more effective than thyroid replacement treatment. (11)

Other studies have shown that zinc together with copper, manganese, and selenium is essential for healthy thyroid function. (12)

Foods that are rich in zinc and other essential nutrients to include on a thyroid diet plan include seafood, beef, cashew nuts, oatmeal, and dairy products. (13)

Find out more about the signs of a zinc deficiency and what you can do to get more zinc in your diet.

Iron for Thyroid Support

Getting enough iron in your diet is essential to prevent thyroid problems.

Studies from Japan have revealed that pregnant women commonly have mild to moderate iron deficiencies. This can result in higher TSH levels and low free T4 levels resulting in signs of hypothyroidism. The scientists said that iron deficiency is related to an underactive thyroid in early pregnancy. (14)

According to the National Institutes of Health, iron-rich foods include poultry, beef, and seafood. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, it is important to take vitamin C to help absorb iron from plant-based sources of iron such as legumes, leafy greens, and nuts. (15)

You can learn about the main signs of an iron deficiency to learn when you need to take supplements. Find out what are the best supplements for addressing iron deficiencies.

Vitamin D for Hypothyroidism

It is important to make sure and get enough vitamin D to help prevent thyroid disorders such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease.

Research published in 2017 found that vitamin D deficiency is often connected to autoimmune diseases. Adequate amounts of vitamin D3 are needed to stimulate the thyroid and produce enough thyroid hormones. (16)

Scientists noted that more research needs to be done to see how vitamin D supplements for low thyroid could be beneficial in treating the disease. (16)

Learn more about some of the other diseases that could be linked to a vitamin D deficiency. Very often vitamin D is an essential nutrient that is missing from our diets.

Ashwagandha to Help Reduce Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Taking ashwagandha as a natural thyroid supplement could help to boost levels of thyroid hormones and improve your quality of life.

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A 2018 study involving 50 people with high levels of TSH found that ashwagandha helped to treat subclinical hypothyroidism. Taking 600 mg ashwagandha supplements for thyroid health helped to normalize thyroid markers significantly. (17)

If you are interested to know more about ashwagandha and how this herbal supplement promotes good health, please read this article.

Turmeric for Thyroid Health

Turmeric is one of the herbs for thyroid disorders as its antioxidant properties have a beneficial effect on thyroid health.

One study on animal models found that taking vitamin C, E and turmeric helped to improve thyroid function in cases of hypothyroidism. (18)

Other studies have found that turmeric supplements can help thyroid disorders connected to hyperthyroidism. Turmeric supplementation helped to reduce the size of enlarged thyroid (goiter) and normalize thyroid hormone levels. (19)

Learn more about the benefits of taking turmeric and how this spice can help reduce inflammation in your body.

Aloe Vera Juice Promotes Good Thyroid Health

One natural thyroid medication is aloe vera juice because it can reverse some of the effects of hypothyroidism.

One study published in 2018 found that drinking 50 ml of aloe vera juice can help to improve T3 and T4 levels. Over a 9-month period, aloe vera juice consumption helped to reduce the amount of thyroid medication that was required. The researchers suggested that aloe vera can be used to treat mild subclinical hypothyroidism. (20)

Learn more about aloe vera juice and how drinking aloe vera can be useful as a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis natural treatment if you have a weak thyroid.

What is the Hypothyroidism Diet or Thyroid Diet?

The “thyroid diet” is designed to support healthy thyroid function while you are undergoing thyroid treatment.

Regarding dietary requirements for people with hypothyroidism, the Journal of Medical Nutrition & Nutraceuticals says that it is important to consume foods with certain micronutrients. For example, doctors recommend that foods to help the thyroid are rich in iron, vitamin A, zinc, and selenium. (21)

Because iodine deficiency is a cause of hypothyroidism, iodine-rich foods may help hypothyroidism by helping to keep the thyroid working properly. However, doctors warn against taking iodine supplements for thyroid health as this could lead to excessive doses. (22)

Even if it is difficult to heal your thyroid naturally with your diet, researchers from Harvard Medical School say that you should eat nutritious foods. A “hypothyroidism diet” may help you feel better and improve your digestion. Exercising may also help to relieve some of the symptoms associated with low thyroid function. (23)

A healthy diet and regular exercise will also help you lose weight with hypothyroidism.

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Many doctors also say that a Hashimoto’s diet should include foods that are nutritious and healthy without going to any extremes. (2)

Vegan Diet and Hypothyroidism

There is some evidence that consuming a plant-based diet can support healthy thyroid function.

The journal Nutrients reported that following a vegan diet may help prevent developing an underactive thyroid. However, researchers noted that the lower risk wasn’t statistically significant. (24)

If you don’t consume meat products, then you actually may be at a greater risk for hypothyroidism. Scientists say that fruits and vegetables are not a good source of iodine. Dietitians recommend that vegans and vegetarians that are iodine deficient should include in their “thyroid diet” 150 μg iodine daily. (25)

One way to supplement your diet is to consume spirulina as this is a plant-based, naturally occurring source of iodine. (22)

Foods to Avoid on the Hypothyroidism Diet

If you are looking for a diet for hypothyroidism and take thyroid support supplements, it is important to avoid certain foods.

Natural remedies for low thyroid function can involve removing from your diet foods containing soy, gluten, or foods that inhibit thyroid function.

Soy

Most dietary advice for hypothyroidism recommends to avoid the consumption of large amounts of soy and soy-based foods.

The reason why soy is one of the foods to avoid on a Hashimoto’s thyroiditis diet is that soy protein and soy isoflavones can affect the thyroid gland.

The journal Thyroid published a review on 14 trials that involved soy and thyroid function. Researchers found some evidence that soy foods could inhibit absorption of thyroid hormones and require larger doses of medication. Consuming large quantities of soy products and without adequate levels of iodine could increase the risk of hypothyroidism. (26)

One case found that consuming large quantities of soy drinks could affect levels of thyroid hormones in the blood. (27)

However, when it comes to consuming reasonable amount of soy, some doctors say that consuming normal amount of soy shouldn’t affect thyroid hormones if the person is being treated with thyroid hormone replacement. (22)

Learn more about the potential benefits and health risks of consuming soy products. You will also find out why fermented soy eliminates many of the health concerns associated with soy.

Cruciferous Vegetables on Hypothyroidism Diet

Although vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, and bok choy are generally healthy, they contain compounds that can affect thyroid function (goitrogenic foods).

Research has found that consuming cruciferous vegetables (brassica vegetables) in large quantities can inhibit thyroid hormone synthesis. Some cruciferous vegetables can affect iodine uptake in the thyroid gland. (28)

Some studies have shown that people who have an iodine deficiency and who consume cruciferous vegetables have an increased risk of thyroid cancer. However, it is good to remember that iodine deficiencies in the West are rare and, in general, cruciferous vegetables help to reduce the risk of cancer. (29)

In order to reduce goitrogens in food, you can also cook cruciferous vegetables, as high temperatures deactivate the goitrogenic substances. (30)

Gluten

Gluten is a protein found in many grains, and celiac disease is often associated with autoimmune thyroid disorders.

Removing gluten as part of a Hashimoto’s diet can help to improve many of your thyroid-related symptoms. One pilot study involving women with autoimmune thyroiditis found that eliminating gluten helped increase T3 and T4 levels. The results of the study confirmed that a gluten-free diet can benefit people with autoimmune hypothyroidism. (31)

Further reading: 10 Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) You Didn’t Know About (Evidence Based).

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13 Responses to Science Explains How to Jump-Start Sluggish Thyroid to Burn Fat and Boost Metabolism

  1. Deborah Lewis says:

    I have most of these symptoms constipation bring cold tinglin weight gain horse voice thin hair and have been doc twice for blood test and they tell me nothing wrong so wont help me .

    • Michelle Konstantopoulos says:

      Deborah I have the same thing,,I have a severe intolerance for cold,,,I mean I will actually cry and it takes forever to warm up., Severe constipation problems, a hoarse voice, my hair falls out in clumps in the shower,,I have lost some weight and I needed to so I had to work very hard at it and now I am stuck with about 13 lbs to go that I just can’t get off, no matter how hard I try, my eyebrows are very thin at the ends and not because I pluck them that way. Tired all the time,,I mean I have like every symptom and I got tested and they say I am fine,,,I don’t believe it,,my cousin, mom, aunt and sister have also had thyroid problems,,For my Mom they had to do an advanced test until it showed up..Her first test results were normal,,I think I am going back to the doctors and insist they do more tests or put me on meds cause this is crazy and I think you should do the same,,,we need to take care of ourselves.

      • Nicole says:

        I have te same issue. Strong family history, goiter , all hypo symptoms… Still told I’m ok…. Very frustrating!

      • Tricia says:

        Deborah, a lot of doctors only check one thing. There’s a t3 and t4 that needs to be checked. That’s a problem for me too and a lot of doctors seem to neglect that.

    • multiautoimmunepatient says:

      Think about seeing a rheumatologist. I had same issue. My thyroid levels were normal but I have Hashimoto which I was actually discovered by rheumatologist test. Later I had a thyroid ultrasound and they can see the inflammation on my thyroid. Your ths can be normal and still have Hashimoto, which actually acts like hypothyroidism.

      Hope this helps.

      • peterpatex12 says:

        Hi multiautoimmunepatient,
        Have your symptoms improved now? Have you been treated for this condition? I seem to have the same problem.

  2. Amy says:

    What if you don’t have a thyroid? Do these options still help. I’ve heard of no soy, but love edamame.

  3. jean says:

    I also have hypothyroidism. I can tell you that the generic levosynthroid that you get cheap with an Rx is not a good fit for many people. it just does not work.

    I think that each person must find out what their thyroid lab values are when they are feeling well. often it seems that what the physician believes to be adequate lab values are not reflected in a reduction of symptoms for the individual. a high normal THS result might not get you where you need to be. maybe yours needs to be a lower number. it elevates as you have less circulation thyroid hormone. have a real serious talk with you medical doctor and do not but silenced because you lab values are in the so called “normal range” you need to get yourself educated about this disorder so that you can gain some control of your treatment. remember that it is not the MD who has to live with the symptoms of this disorder, YOU DO. so it is up to you to take back some control with knowledge and common sense.

    there is an otc at the natural herb stores called thyroid support for those who need it. just be cautious when taking this. start with half the recommended does for a few weeks to see how you feel, that might be enough for you. if you have a heart condition talk with md before use, or if you begin to experience any cardiac flutters or palpatations…get to the ER and stop taking it. be sure that you let the md know that you are taking this supplement. most mds will warn you off of herbals… just so you know but if you are having heart issues it is time to fess up and tell them the truth. be careful.

    good luck. stay well

  4. julie says:

    Help I suffer from hypothyroidism I sweat purfusively like ve been in the rain I get way too hot Does anyone have any suggestions for this No Dr’s been able to help me yet

  5. Adib says:

    Iam 61 years old .My tsh test is 6.9. Is it normal or high?. Iam a diabetic person.

    Thank you for your response.

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