Sarah was used to dealing with minor health issues. She’d gained a bit of weight in recent years and figured the occasional muscle and joint pain she felt was somehow related. She grew familiar with constant, nagging fatigue. She’d always assumed it came from the minor depression that seemed to run in her family. She didn’t realize anything was really wrong until she received word after her yearly physical that her cholesterol levels were off balance. Sarah’s doctor ran more tests over the following weeks and they discovered that all of her symptoms were indeed related—to hypothyroidism.
Thyroid disease is extremely common, affecting more than 27 million Americans. While it is important that a thyroid condition be managed by a doctor, you are your own best advocate for your health, and there is much you can do on your own to support your thyroid health. The foods you eat are an important factor that can have a major effect on your experience with thyroid disease. Certain foods can help you manage hypothyroidism, reduce the symptoms of fatigue, and balance your hormones while other foods can make the condition worse.
Many of the symptoms of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) coincide with other conditions, allowing hypothyroidism to go undetected for quite some time. Changes in the menstrual cycle, constipation, depression, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, and difficulty losing weight could be attributed to everything from menopause to normal aging. However, with the rates of thyroid disorders rising in recent decades, according to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), any potential thyroid symptoms should not be ignored. Left untreated, thyroid disorder increases the risk of certain serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and infertility.
It’s a common story: your bone-numbing fatigue, inability to sleep, brain fog, aches and pains, headaches, depressed mood, hair loss, low sex drive, and the weight gain you can’t control—no matter how many calories you cut—finally drive you to the doctor. You’re diagnosed with hypothyroidism and given a prescription for levothyroxine, which you take faithfully. But the weeks go by, and you don’t feel any better.