In a holistic approach, finding a healthy diet lifestyle may be as simple as juggling 4 balls while standing on a circular log in a creek with flowing currents. Among certain people, at certain ages, the healthiest foods may result in health problems, such as low thyroid levels or hypothyroidism.
Since the 1960’s, nutritionists have been studying certain phytonutrients and protein amino acids found in food. These usually don’t make it into product nutritional labels. Yet these minute nutrients help contribute to healthy life extension or, in some people, life reduction. What causes problems for certain individuals is not the food itself but the mismatched nature of certain substances within the food to their unique health circumstances. So some foods may have heart healthy and cholesterol lowering benefits while those same foods may be responsible for annoying side effects in sensitive individuals.
Hypothyroidism involves low thyroid levels and may lead to an enlarged thyroid that may appear as a goiter, a swelling at the base of the neck. Among those phytonutrients is a class referred as Goitrogens. Most foods that are commonly called goitrogenic, such as cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower), peanuts, and soy do not interfere with thyroid function in healthy persons even when they are consumed on a daily basis. Yet, almost like an allergy, some individuals may be sensitive to Goitrogens that result in low thyroid levels.
Doctors often test for TSH blood levels in routine medical exams, higher than normal scores mean low thyroid levels of a hormone the thyroid produces. Low thyroid levels are known as hypothyroidism. Depending on your score, there are certain effects that can affect your life:
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight (despite reduced food intake)
Coarse, dry hair and dry skin
Sensitivity to cold
Muscle cramps and aches
Abnormal menstrual cycles
Slowed speech (severe cases)
Jaundice (severe cases)
Increase in tongue size (severe cases)
While, of course, there may be other contributing factors to these symptoms, finding if you are goitrogenic sensitive may be a factor. The most common cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or autoimmune hypothyroidism), a form of thyroid inflammation caused by your own immune system, though it isn’t exclusive. Hypothyroid or low thyroid levels show on thyroid level blood tests, particularly TSH and in combination with T3 and T4 tests. Repeated indicative scores mean that you have a predisposition to low thyroid levels and possible immunity problems.
Gluten is sometimes listed as a potential goitrogen because gluten sensitivity contributes to a wide range of autoimmune responses but not necessarily to low thyroid levels. You’ll notice that goitrogenic foods are considered to be healthy foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, etc. Those people who don’t have a thyroid condition shouldn’t have a problem eating these vegetables. Goitrogenic foods are concerned with those who test positive for hypothyroidism. The foods of goitrogenic concern are:
Many of these are cruciferous vegetables and have been associated to help manage cholesterol levels. Besides nutritional components like vitamins A, C, E, and K, these vegetables are also rich in health beneficial secondary metabolites, which include sulfur containing glucosinolates and S-methylcysteine sulfoxide, flavonoids, anthocyanins, coumarins, carotenoids, antioxidant enzymes, terpenes and other minor compounds. As a result, these vegetables are often seen as essential for healthy diets for various conditions. Some research indicate that these may also contribute to prevention of cancer.
For those people trying to manage cholesterol levels through dietary means, exclusion of these heart-healthy vegetables due to low thyroid levels is definitely a juggle. As a muscular dystrophy patient, statins (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor, etc.) are ill advised as they may promote further muscle wasting.
Soy is rich in trypsin inhibitors. Trypsin is a digestive enzyme needed to properly digest protein. Without enough trypsin, you may experience many digestive problems including stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bleeding. Lower levels of Trypsin may lead to pancreatic problems over time.
There are drugs that include lithium (a drug used to treat bipolar disorder) and phenylbutazone (a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) that can interfere with iodine metabolism that is key to thyroid peroxidase production by your thyroid. This may be another factor of low thyroid levels.
The benefits of soy include a non-cholesterol protein source, good fiber source, and fewer carbohydrates per serving than most beans. Soy can be used as substitutes for legumes, milk, cheese, and meat. Tofu is a soy product. In animal and cell culture studies, soy isoflavones inhibit the activity of thyroid peroxidase, Oregon State University researchers note, and possibly may promote low thyroid levels for those who are sensitive to goitrogenic foods. Consumption of soy protein has been associated with symptoms of intestinal and stomach difficulties, such as constipation, bloating, nausea, and changes in stool quality. If you experience intestinal irritation from cow’s milk, you may also experience this irritation with soy. Soy may also act as a food allergen similar to wheat, milk, eggs, fish and peanuts. Acute migraine headaches have also been reported after using a soy isoflavone product.
Among the best possible ways to support the thyroid gland through all of life’s important changes is by eating more carefully. As we approach these transitions, perhaps it’s time for everyone to take a look at how the foods we eat can help or hurt our health. Foods that may normally be presumed as healthy may actually be harmful in some degrees, as with low thyroid levels.
Having low thyroid levels of thyroid peroxidase may concern doctors but the inference of causality may be very diverse. Apart from goitrogenic sensitivities, there are many etiologies. The thyroid gland doesn’t just stop producing thyroid hormone on its own, as there is always a cause behind this. Giving synthetic thyroid hormone may do a good job of managing one’s symptoms, it is not doing anything for the cause of your condition. Synthroid offers these possible side effects:
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Chest pain or shortness of breath
Change in appetite
Frequent bowel movements
Some of these actually mimic some of the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism in the first place. Some people may have genetic predispositions. Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy patients may have issues with hypothyroid symptoms. A rare cause of hypothyroidism may have little do to with the actual thyroid gland and more to do with the gland that actually controls it—the pituitary. A problem in the pituitary gland (such as a tumor) may impact its ability to produce thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Without TSH, the thyroid won’t produce and secrete hormones because it doesn’t have the “signal” from the pituitary. There may be many reasons. If you are concerned, seek out an excellent endocrinologist or a natural endocrinologist. Take care to share your symptoms and reactions. A hypothyroid condition comes in many different degrees.
It comes back to eating a wide variety of foods and being aware of the reasons for it. When we eat with the seasons we naturally eat a varied diet and with a little common sense avoid the pitfalls of over-consumption of any one food. Those seasonal foods, however, have changed since we import foods from other regions. While we try to manage health issues, our main healthy dietary foods may also be harmful.
Sometimes it’s easy to go insane at finding a wellness lifestyle that helps you stay well when you have certain health issues. Food relationships and all those phytonutrients we still know little about may be doing more harm than good. Eating natural fish and meat proteins in moderation. Suddenly that pizza and pasta is looking better and better, in moderation of course. Living with diverse health issues through the aging process is very much like walking a tightrope or juggling balls on a log. Somehow you have to find your safety net. The acts of living are often like those of circus performers and we are the players. It takes talent, study, practice, fortitude and luck.
There are no guarantees. Going from low thyroid levels to normal thyroid levels may require steps beyond normality. The goal is to feel better. Looking at life as an amusement park may be the healthiest attitude. There are risks but, ultimately, the aims in combatting any disease are the experiential joy of living and loving. The juggling is part of what we do. Finding the right doctor to help you deal with your holistic approach is often as difficult as your conditions feel. Low thyroid levels can be beaten.