How To Kick Your Thyroid’s Ass: To Supplement, Or Not: That Is The Question
Generally, I believe in a whole foods approach to wellness and eating. I don’t necessarily like the idea of endorsing a bunch of pills to pop, all Suzanne Somer’s-ish (you know, 60 pills a day for anything and everything that ails you). But, I feel like in some instances and due to our busy lifestyles, it’s just not possible to get all the necessary nutrients via food, in which case, taking supplements becomes necessary. In my mind, taking pills to supplement our often-lacking diets is still highly controversial and not as natural as I’d prefer. But regardless, I do take them and here’s a list of vitamins and extracts that I have found to be helpful and are generally accepted as beneficial to the immune system. We’re not trying to stimulate the immune system here, but simply strengthen it.
I recommend buying these items at a real, legitimate health food store. Meaning, not a “natural foodsÃ¢â‚¬ grocer, or a large mainstream chain; but a weirdest-shit-they-sell, hole-in-the-wall, what-the-fuck-is-spirulina-anyway??? kind of a store. These are the businesses that place the health and wellbeing of the consumer as a high priority, and indeed expect the consumer to be both informed and skeptical. Avoid buying your supplements at those stores that place the dollar sign above the safety and effectiveness of the product. And don’t worry — this doesn’t necessarily make things more expensive. Often times, the supplements I buy are comparable in price to those in a traditional grocery store. The important thing to keep in mind when making a purchase are the presence of fillers in the product (avoid them like the plague. They include things like yeast, soy, gluten, dairy, corn, sugar, flavorings, etc. which should be noted right on the bottle, if the product is free-of), and the purity of the product (ie: from a source that wasn’t contaminated with chemicals and antibiotics and pesticides).
As always, we loveeee to hear from you, our dear readers and the people who make Dear Thyroid the very special community that it is. So, please use this as an opportunity to tell us which vitamins, extracts, and supplements you take and what has and has not worked for you, and how you feel about the idea of taking them to begin with.
Probiotics: These contain the beneficial bacteria our bodies need to maintain high immunity. Much of our immune system resides in our gut. Therefore, digesting “goodÃ¢â‚¬ bacteria, over time, strengthens our bodies. The notion of ingesting bacteria can seem odd, but our bodies are naturally full of the stuff and indeed it is essential to our wellbeing. Usually, however, due to our sugary, grainy, processed diets and also other factors such as stress, illness, antibiotic doses over the course of a lifetime, and other medications such as steroids and birth control, one certain kind of bacteria can grow out of control in our intestines and skin and mucous membranes, causing lots of symptoms and pains and lowered immunity. It can also mean our bodies aren’t able to properly extract nutrients from the food we’re eating, as well as absorb our thyroid medication properly.
A good probiotic contains around eight or nine strains of bacteria and does not contain any of the aforementioned fillers like soy, corn, yeast, sugars, gluten, or dairy. Probiotics can come in many forms: lozenges, capsules, liquids, and tablets. They’re also added to many foods and/or naturally found in certain products, like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut. This is considering the fact, of course, that the items are organic or “naturalÃ¢â‚¬ and the fermentation process isn’t rushed along, but is allowed to naturally ferment and develop the good bacteria. Beware: most non-organic yogurts in the grocery store are force-fermented, which denies the consumer the true benefits of the probiotic.
Vitamin D: The best way to get your daily Vitamin D quota is simply via the sun (meaning daily 15-20 minute daily walks, if you can manage). It’s free, it doesn’t require remembering to take a pill and at a certain time of day, and its benefits transcend thyroid health. Historically, those of us with thyroid disease have been known to have very low Vitamin D levels. And, interestingly enough, both Vitamin D and thyroid hormones are found on the same steroid hormone receptor, meaning both are essential to the health and uptake of the other.
It is also said that, if obtaining vitamin D through food or supplements, improper absorption can occur due to bacterial overgrowth, as mentioned in the need for a probiotic. So, if our diets are causing an imbalance of natural and necessary bacteria, our bodies may not be absorbing the vitamin. In addition, Vitamin D is fat-soluble. This means that good fats in the diet are necessary for its absorption in the body also.
Omega 3’s: These have anti-inflammatory properties. Especially for those of us with autoimmunity, Omega 3’s are thought to be an effective way to ease the inflammatory properties of our diseases. However, Omega 3 fatty acids, really, are a good idea for everyone — meaning, those of us who may simply be hypo or hyper — because we all have some inflammation in the body, and as I’ve mentioned before, inflammation is the precursor to disease and illness, not just thyroid related. Our society’s diet, high in grains, gluten, carbohydrates, chemicals, and allergens, coupled with an over-consumption of animal products and sugars are all great ways to ensure inflammation in the body.
Dr. Mercola, whom I’m a fan of, is a huge proponent of fish oil as a source of Omega 3 fatty acids and sells, krill oil, which is purportedly the strongest and purest source available. While other fish products can be contaminated with mercury (remember the mercury-autoimmune disease connection?) and other pollutants (if the fish was farm-raised, they may have even been given antibiotics, or their good fats could have developed into bad ones, all due to the unnatural farming practices. Shocking and scary, I know.), this and other pure Omega 3 products are the best to consume.
I also take a few specific supplements to help fight the systemic bacterial issues that affect many autoimmune sufferers (lucky us). Grapefruitseed Extract is one of them. This is a powerful antibacterial and antifungal which is available in both capsules or pills and liquid form. I find the liquid to be really useful. Especially for those of us thyroidians who are prone to sore throat and allergies, it works great to fight the bacteria which causes the infection. But beware, it does take some getting used to: it is highly bitter and must be diluted before consumption. After taking it for about a year/year and a half, it doesn’t bother me and I no longer notice the bitterness.
Pau D’arco and Caprylic Acid are two others. Pau D’arco is a tree bark extraction and is available in a few forms, with the tea and the liquid drops being the most popular. It is also an antibacterial and has a very sweet and floral flavor, which is a nice alternative for anyone trying to avoid caffeinated and sugary drinks. A few drops in a glass of water a few times a day or a fresh-brewed cup is all you need. Caprylic acid, on the other hand, usually is available only in a pill form and is another powerful antibacterial agent. It is actually found in coconuts (remember my info on coconut oil?) and human breastmilk, which shows how beneficial it can be to our bodies. These kinds of supplements work to strengthen the immune system by eliminating the pathogens that strain it, and we can all use more of that.
Until Next Week,
Have a question, comment, story, love letter, or rant/rave to send me?: Liz@DearThyroid.com
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