The thyroid helps regulate metabolism, which controls your body’s temperature, heartbeat, and how your cells use energy from food.

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The thyroid is a gland located on the lower front part of your neck. It releases hormones into the bloodstream that help regulate your heart, brain, muscles and skin. The thyroid helps regulate metabolism which controls your body’s temperature, heartbeat, and how your cells use energy from the food you eat. Too much thyroid hormone and you’re anxious, jumpy and your heart races. Too little and you’re sleepy and gaining weight. Maybe your hair is falling out, too.

It’s hard to find a part of the body that isn’t regulated by the thyroid so it’s important to keep the gland in prime working order. But what if you’ve got all the symptoms of low thyroid but your lab tests keep coming back normal? Normal? Then why do you feel so rotten? Is your thyroid tired, sick, sputtering or stuttering? Is it on vacation or taking a nap?

At Pinnacle Integrative Health, Daniel Rasmussen, a diplomate of Oriental Medicine and graduate of Bastyr University, focuses his care on finding the cause of thyroid symptoms. “I find the root of the problem,” Rasmussen says. “It’s what’s causing the thyroid to adjust its normal function in response to something that is out of balance somewhere else in the body.”

That “something else” can be many different things. Perhaps the body’s liver function is off. Maybe the digestive tract is not working well, is inflamed or off balance. Sometimes the adrenal glands need to be checked and given additional support. The same can be said for the immune system which, when in tune, helps balance the body and the thyroid.

Once Rasmussen and his team have found the cause of the problem, they focus on treating that issue by making a custom plan for each patient that includes dietary and lifestyle changes, supplements and other treatments.

So, what are some things everyone can do to keep their thyroid active and healthy?

Eliminate refined sugar.  Doughnuts are delicious, but refined and processed sugars can trigger an inflammatory response that can lead the immune system to attack the thyroid. Eliminating sugar can be a quick way to start the healing process.

Eliminate gluten. Yes, baguettes are delicious, too. But gluten molecules can look like thyroid hormone to the body. “Elimination of gluten is more than just the trendy diet of the day,” Rasmussen says. “It’s bad for your digestive system, but it goes deeper than that. It appears to the body as extra thyroid hormone in the system.” These hormones can plug receptors and make the thyroid think it needs to slow its production. Eliminating gluten can help bring the thyroid back into balance.

Eat a nutrient-rich diet. Focus on eating foods that include plenty of vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, B vitamins and iodine.

Eat foods rich in glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and can help heal thyroid tissue. Glutathione is found in avocados, spinach, garlic, squash, grapefruit, peaches, broccoli and asparagus.

Eat healthy fats. Eat plenty of natural and healthy fats from nuts, cheese, yogurt, coconut milk, olive oil and ghee. These foods help balance thyroid hormones.

“Making a few changes can have a dramatic improvement in someone’s thyroid condition,” Rasmussen says. “There are simple but very effective adjustments that can lead to big improvements.”

Maybe your thyroid is just feeling overlooked and overwhelmed. Maybe it just needs a little love and maintenance and soon enough it’ll be back from vacation, awake, alert, and doling out that thyroid hormone in exactly the right amount.

At Pinnacle Integrative Health, our purpose is to provide the highest level of holistic care by having acupuncturists and Western medical doctors working side by side. Our goal is to help people get healthy and free of pain naturally.