Essential tips for Winter Thyroid Health.
Do you notice a change in your health in the winter months? Dry skin and hair, feeling the cold, weight gain, low mood, fatigue – these are often signs and symptoms that we may associate with Winter. Poor thyroid health and function may be at the root of this in colder months as the thyroid gland works harder to keep us warm. So, what do we need to consider to help get us through the cooler months and manage your thyroid health?
Here are 5 tips to get you on track:
1. Check your current thyroid function, especially thyroid antibodies.
Comprehensive screening is always recommended, ideally including TSH, Free T4, Free T3, Thyroid antibodies (TPOab and TGab) and Reverse T3. If your GP is unwilling to provide a thorough screen, Naturopaths can authorise testing. Early detection of thyroid antibodies, while other parameters appear normal, is an important strategy in overcoming thyroid issues.
For those who are already diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and are on prescription medication, a dose adjustment may actually be required in Winter, based on blood tests and symptoms.
If you have already been struck down with colds and flu-like symptoms this season, this can increase the risk of post-viral thyroiditis and potentially a transient rise in thyroid antibodies, increasing the risk of developing autoimmune thyroid issues (Hashimoto’s or Graves). Don’t panic if you’ve had the flu – read on
2. Boost your immunity!
A lot of the vitamins and minerals that the thyroid gland demands also support the immune system. It’s a good idea to adjust a supplement regime for the season and Naturopaths can tailor a routine that works best for you and your Thyroid Health. Consider seeking advice in regards to the right type of supplement to boost immunity and in the case where you have Hashimoto’s or Graves (autoimmune thyroiditis) you may get a dual effect from your supplement, supporting immunity and managing autoimmunity. Win, win!
3. Keep up the good work!
Eating well, sleeping well and getting the balance right with low impact exercise and combatting stress are all great ways to manage our general health, but the Winter months can sometimes get us out of routine. A little more temptation with food choices or increased appetite?
Remember, every good choice counts, think broths, vegetable soups, slow-cooked meats with extra vegetables. Opting for milky, sugary teas or that extra coffee or maybe a hot chocolate? Try carob powder – it probably won’t even need sweetening and if you do need to sweeten warm drinks (like herbal teas) use a small amount of good quality honey as a treat. Perhaps there is some guilt in thinking it’s wrong to want to sleep more – but why not turn that 7 hours into 8 or even 8 into 9? Your thyroid will thank you for it! Exercise may need to be adapted to indoor activities if you exercise early morning or evening – maybe it’s the perfect time to join that yoga studio!
4. Keep warm and hydrated
When you feel the cold (especially hands and feet) its best to rug up – creating heat for the body when the thyroid isn’t meeting demands is a supportive process. And who needs an excuse for a relaxing warm bath? Since chlorine can be an issue for thyroid patients (as it blocks the absorption of iodine to the thyroid), adding a tablespoon of pure Vitamin C powder (in the form of sodium ascorbate or ascorbic acid) will neutralise the chlorine in your bathwater. Ayurveda recommends moisturising with sesame oil in Winter (not the toasted type in your pantry!) as it is warming – leave the coconut oil for the Summer months as it is cooling. Applying a good quality oil BEFORE a bath can also stop the dehydrating effects of water. Switch the hydrating coconut water you’ve been drinking all Summer for warm herbal teas, drink warm water with lemon before meals and limit caffeine. Rooibos tea (red tea) is an excellent choice in place of black tea and remember green tea contains caffeine, so limit this to 2 cups daily to avoid dehydration.
5. Check your Vitamin D levels and consider a supplement.
Luckily the sunshine vitamin is still plentiful here in the Sunshine State during Winter, but our lifestyles might mean we miss out on getting the right amount, with limited sources in our diet too (eggs, dairy, fish and mushrooms). Therapeutic doses of Vitamin D should always be justified by testing first, so why not get checked by your GP now and bring your test result to your next appointment? Practitioner only supplements are always in the purest forms, and your dosing can be advised in consultation. Especially important for those with thyroid antibodies and another test we can arrange if required.
If you are experiencing symptoms that you suspect may be Thyroid Health-related or already have a diagnosed condition, Naturopathy has much to offer. What better time to check-in, so that you can emerge in Spring in full bloom!