Do you feel like a tortoise? It could be an Underactive thyroid

cold, slow and tired

Do you feel cold all the time? Are you lacking energy? Do you find it difficult to lose weight? Is your hair dry and brittle and losing its gloss? If so you could be suffering with an under-active thyroid.

Your thyroid gland is responsible for regulating your metabolism. It does this by secreting the  hormones T3 and T4. Most of T3 is actually converted from T4. The production of both of these hormones is regulated by the pituitary gland via the thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).

When there is too little T4 in your blood you are deemed to have an under-active thyroid. This can be caused by nutritional deficiencies, auto-immune disorders, a congenital deformity or by a problem with the pituitary gland. The standard treatment for an under-active thyroid is the drug thyroxine. However there are various more natural measures you can try either in addition to thyroxine or as an alternative , because once you start on this hormone replacement then you are likely to be on it for life.

One simple measure you could put in place is to follow the hormone balancing diet.

Iodine is a vital component of the thyroid hormones. When iodine is in short supply the thyroid gland is unable to produce enough of the T4 hormone. In the absence of T4 the pituitary gland goes into overdrive and tries to stimulate the thyroid into producing more. As a result of this continual stimulation the thyroid can become enlarged, and a goitre develops which is what leads to an enlarged neck; a typical symptom of hypothyroidism. Eat plenty of iodine rich foods – seaweed and sea vegetable products as well as sea fish, marine iodized salt and shellfish. Iodine is also found in mushrooms, pineapple and cheese. Alternatively you can supplement with kelp or iodine.

Some foods, when eaten in high quantities, can reduce thyroid activity – these are known as ‘goitregens’. These include kale, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips and brussels sprouts. The problem occurs if you eat large quantities of these vegetables in their raw state.

Nutrients which are particularly important for a healthy thyroid function include:

Selenium – involved in the creation of the hormone T3.  This is found in brazil nuts, garlic, onions, kale, tomato, and broccoli.
Zinc – helps to optimise thyroid function. Zinc is found in red meat, fish, egg yolks, lentils, and nuts. It is mainly found in foods of animal origin, therefore it would be wise for vegetarians to take a supplement.
Magnesium – involved in the creation of the hormone T3.  This mineral is found in pulses, nuts, green leafy vegetables, brown rice, chocolate and some fruits.
Omega-3 fats – either from fish oil or flax oil. Essential fats help to keep body cells more flexible, which means they are more responsive to the thyroid hormones.
Tyrosine. This is an amino acid which plays a vital role in the healthy functioning of the thyroid, improving metabolism and suppressing appetite. Found in avocados, pumpkin seeds, cashew nuts and bananas. Alternatively you can take a supplement.

Avoidance of stress and regular relaxation is also important. When we suffer with constant or prolonged periods of stress or over-activity, the blood levels of another hormone – cortisol – become raised. High levels of cortisol reduce T3 levels, with the effect that your metabolism slows down.


  1. I’ve had an underactive thyroid since I was a teen. I take synthroid to replace the hormone. If the dosage gets “off” you’re right, I’m a tortoise.
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