Nicole Kovalenko

| 05/04/2016

Could It Be Your Thyroid?

Could It Be Your Thyroid?

Are you gaining or losing weight and don’t know why? Feeling like you’re in a fog and can’t remember things? Suffering from depression and anxiety? Maybe you have heart palpitations, chronic fatigue and insomnia, or have suddenly developed IBS. If you have any of these symptoms, the cause could be your thyroid.

These symptoms are only a few of the possible signs of a thyroid imbalance. More than 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid dysfunction and 60% are unaware of it. Women are 5-8 times more likely to develop a thyroid disorder, with 1 in 8 women developing this problem in her lifetime.

The Basics

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck below your Adam’s apple. It is like the thermostat of your body and controls metabolism, body temperature, energy level, heart rate, and muscle and bone strength, among other things. The thyroid hormone it secretes affects every cell of your body, so having a healthy thyroid is very important for overall health.

The main thyroid disorders include:

Hypothyroidism (underactive) This is the most common form of imbalance where the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

Hyperthyroidism (overactive) This is a less common form of dysfunction where the thyroid is making too much thyroid hormone. The most common cause of hyperthyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Grave’s Disease.

Autoimmunity occurs when the immune system mistakes a part of the body as a foreign entity and it starts to attack it. In this case, it is the thyroid being attacked.

Recommended Testing 

Many conventional doctors misdiagnose or don’t diagnose a thyroid problem because they don’t do a complete thyroid panel. Many only look at the TSH level, which does not give the whole picture of what is going on. Also, many times the lab results are not interpreted accurately because the reference ranges used are too wide. Levels may be in the “normal range” but the person may still be experiencing symptoms (called subclinical hypothyroidism). Up to 8% of the general population has this condition.

A complete panel includes these labs:

TSH (optimal range is between .5-2.0)

Free T4 (optimal range is .8-1.8)

Free T3 (optimal range is 3.0-4.3)

Thyroid antibodies (TPO or TSI)

Make sure to ask for a copy of your lab results so you can look them over yourself and know your levels (normal range may not be optimal for you). Working with a functional medicine or holistic doctor is a good idea as they will do more in depth testing to determine the cause of your thyroid disorder.

Natural Ways to Support Your Thyroid

There are many natural ways to support the thyroid. These include:

Eat supporting foods: Focus on eating a mostly whole-foods diet high in plant foods and low in sugar and processed foods. Take action by starting off the day with a healthy breakfast high in protein and healthy fat and low in sugar and refined carbs.

Eliminate inflammatory foods: Gluten, dairy, and soy have been shown to damage or irritate the thyroid. Try an elimination diet to see if it improves your symptoms.

Take the right nutrients: The thyroid needs specific nutrients to properly function. These include iodine, selenium, magnesium, and vitamins D and B. Some of these nutrients are available in seafood, sea vegetables, poultry, Brazil nuts, mushrooms, legumes, yogurt, strawberries and eggs. A supplement may be necessary to get the right amounts.

Get enough sleep to feel rested: This is often underappreciated in our society but it is so important for thyroid health. Have a regular bedtime and get 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night.

Manage stress: Chronic stress affects the thyroid because of its connection to our adrenal glands. Take action by learning and implementing stress management practices. Try things like deep breathing, yoga, meditation, soothing music or anything that helps to relax you. Be sure to take time for yourself everyday doing something you enjoy.

Exercise regularly: This is a great way to relieve stress and support your thyroid. Be sure to find exercises you enjoy so it doesn’t feel like a chore. Some examples include, yoga, dance, sports, and walking in nature.

Explore your emotional health: In ancient traditions, it is believed that the thyroid is sensitive to “stuffed emotions” or “holding our tongues.” As women, we are often drawn to nurturing others before exploring our own emotional needs. Spend time with your feelings and learn to express them in healthy ways. Journaling or talking with a friend can help.

Nicole Kovalenko MS, IAHC, AADP

Nicole is a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who helps women with thyroid and digestive issues improve their health and energy levels naturally. The support and guidance she provides is something she desperately wanted and needed when she was diagnosed with Grave’s Disease (Autoimmune Hyperthyroidism) in 1999.

You can learn more about Nicole at her website,


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