This is a frequently asked question about thyroid health and nutrition that I get: How can I boost my metabolism when I have very low thyroid function, or none at all? Maybe you have even had your thyroid removed and are struggling with the effects of a reduced metabolism.
I will admit: I do have a big fear of losing my currently “good” metabolism. I fear the hypothyroid state.
So, I figured I would answer this question for all my readers out there, and to help squash my own fears, and let you know that it will be OK. There are many ways to boost the metabolism and make sure you are feeling closer to 100%.
It’s Not Just The Thyroid’s Job
Thankfully, we have other body processes and organs/glands that affect the metabolism. It is not just the thyroid. However, the thyroid plays the largest role in metabolism.
First, make sure you are looking at ALL areas of a health when you address metabolism: everything from hydration to sleep.
Of course I am not a Doctor, so I can not write about medication recommendations. But, make sure you are working with a practitioner who understands YOU. Make sure you are getting the proper dosage that is right for you. If you are getting T4 only medicines (like Synthroid), make sure you research all of your options. You may need to do bloodwork to check how well you are converting T4 to T3 (active hormone). Without enough T3, the metabolism suffers and you may feel more symptoms of hypothyroidism.
The pituitary still will secrete TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) when you do not have a thyroid. Of course, this will change depending on medication. But, remember that the thyroid is only in charge of secreting thyroid hormones: T4, T3, etc. So, in the absence of the thyroid gland, medication provides those hormones which create the rest of the feedback system.
Remember how I said other body functions (not just the thyroid) can improve metabolism? Well, if you have a congested liver or gallbladder, for example, your metabolism may suffer. Fats will not be correctly metabolized if your liver is “congested”.
What leads to congestion? Environmental toxicity, poor diets, nutrition deficiencies, excess alcohol consumption.
Iodine for Thyroid Support
Some may be deficient in iodine which leads to lower thyroid function. Iodine is needed to produce thyroid hormone.
A word of caution: Iodine may not be appropriate for those with Hashimoto’s as many report that taking iodine can cause a “flare up” and increase the autoimmune attack. It is best to work with a healthcare professional on this one, and iodine testing may be most appropriate.
Interestingly enough, some research has said that when patients severely restrict iodine, they were able to reduce their autoimmune attack.
Overall, iodine intake recommendations vary from person to person. So, there is no general recommendation. Get tested! I plan to do my iodine loading test sometime soon, and will let you know how it goes. (I plan to use Hakala labs)
Address the Adrenals
If you work on improving thyroid function and health, your adrenal function should also improve. However, if you are still not getting better, you may need to address adrenal health.
In simple words, the adrenals may become so weak that they force the body to reduce the metabolism to conserve.
There are supplements that can help to support adrenal health, but remember to put your focus on thyroid health and total body health first before addressing the adrenals. Meditate, reduce stress, enjoy light exercise, eat a healthy diet. If you try to heal the adrenals first without healing other aspects, you will not get very far!
Without it, our whole body suffers! Make sure you are getting 7-9 hours.
Focus on Strength
Are you over the age of 35? If so, muscle mass is on the decline. This means metabolism is on the decline. Make sure to get some form of strength exercise in every week. After all, muscles help increase that calorie burn!
More importantly, find a strength exercise that does not cause too much stress on your body. Traditional heavy weight lifting might not be best for someone with a depressed immune system trying to heal their body.
Try out yoga or pilates, for example.
Diet Rich in Fiber and Whole Foods
Don’t neglect the diet. A diet rich in whole foods will best support the body processes. More importantly, find a diet that causes the lowest level of inflammation in YOUR body.