What is hypothyroidism and how is it treated?

“There’s no way of preventing an underactive thyroid.” according to the NHS, and no way to treat it besides synthetic hormones to eliminate symptoms. (1) 

However, medical opinion on this subject varies widely, with some doctors offering a more hopeful outlook.

The thyroid is a gland in your neck, producing the hormone T4, its primary role being the conversion of food and nutrients into energy, and regulation of your metabolism. When it is not producing enough, symptoms include weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, difficulties concentrating, dry skin and hair, even depression. This can be detected by blood tests to measure T4 levels, and check that the level of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), produced by the pituitary gland,  is not elevated.

Conventional treatment replaces the role of the thyroid with synthetic T4 hormones, in order to prevent more serious complications and to reduce symptoms as much as possible. This must be taken daily for the rest of your life, and dosage checked on a yearly basis.

However, there are a variety of factors that can affect thyroid function that are not tested for, and that many doctors may not even be aware of.

What can impact thyroid function?

Iodine, selenium and zinc are nutrients required for hormone production and the conversion of T4 into T3, the active form. (2) (3) (4)

A significant percentage of UK adults do not meet recommended micronutrient requirements and as these do not adjust to individual needs, the number of those actually at risk of more serious deficiencies may be far higher. (5) Dr. Jenny Goodman advises that chlorine and fluoride, in swimming pools and tap water, can also significantly reduce iodine absorption. Undetected mild intolerances, such as gluten, can also damage your gut and reduce your ability to absorb nutrients from food. (6)

“Goitrogenic” foods such as cabbages, cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, as well as sweet potatoes, can also have an impact on thyroid health by reducing iodine absorption. These should be avoided. (7)

What can you do?

A diet high in processed and refined foods is unlikely to meet many nutrient needs. Increasing the diversity of foods in your diet, emphasizing a range of colourful vegetables, wholegrain or unprocessed, prebiotic (gut feeding) and probiotic (containing beneficial bacteria) foods can help to combat this. Taking high quality supplements and probiotics and eliminating gluten (even without a severe intolerence) can also help to support your hormone production.

Finally, lifestyle and stress levels can have a major impact on your endocrine system. High levels of stress cause your pituitary gland to have to produce more cortisol, downregulating its production of TSH and impacting thyroid function. Regular exercise and practices such as meditation or yoga can help you to regulate stress levels and support your thyroid function, as well as reducing inflammation that can contribute to the development of autoimmune disorders that can damage your thyroid. (8)

Although in cases medication may still be a necessity, it is empowering to know that there are simple, accessible measures that can support and improve thyroid function.

PharmaNord’s SelenoPrecise is a bioavailable form of selenium for healthy immunity, thyroid function, skin, hair and fertility. 

Written by Zoe Hill, Nutritional Chef, Health Content Creator and Yoga Instructor. 


  1. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/underactive-thyroid-hypothyroidism/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5307254/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746228/
  4. https://www.thyroid.org/iodine-deficiency/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6060686/
  6. https://www.magzter.com/stories%2Fhealth%2FWhat-Doctors-Dont-Tell-You-AustraliaNZ%2FRUNNING-ON-EMPTY/
  7. https://kresserinstitute.com/goitrogenic-foods-and-thyroid-health/
  8. https://www.houstonfamilypractice.com/the-connection-between-stress-and-thyroid-health