When your thyroid hormone level gets low, your pituitary gland releases thyroid-stimulating hormone, or TSH, which stimulates the thyroid to release more thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone contributes to various important functions, including respiration, protein and fat metabolism; heat production; appetite; and cardiac functioning. When your TSH levels are high, your thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone, or possibly, your thyroid is underactive and isn’t responding to the TSH. At any rate, when tests indicate that your TSH levels are high or are fluctuating widely, it might indicate an endocrinological problem that requires medical attention. At any rate, certain dietary choices and lifestyle practices can help you lower and stabilize your TSH levels.
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Consult your doctor if you believe your TSH levels are high. Symptoms can include fatigue; weakness; dry, rough or pale skin; muscle cramps and aches; constipation; depression; irritability and decreased libido. These symptoms might indicate Graves' disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a form of thyroid inflammation caused by your immune system that incapacitates or damages your thyroid gland.
Stabilize your consumption of fiber. A high fiber diet provides many benefits, but fiber can also affect how your thyroid absorbs hormones and ultimately can affect your TSH level. Don’t stop eating high fiber; it’s good for you. If you’ve just started eating a high fiber diet, give your body and your thyroid gland time to adjust to the new regimen. Avoid vacillation in your fiber intake as that can contribute to erratic absorption of TSH and lead to sporadic increases in TSH.
Avoid taking iron tablets, vitamins with iron and calcium supplements at the same time as you take your thyroid medication. Calcium and iron can disrupt the absorption of thyroid replacement. Allow two to four hours between the time you take your thyroid medication and your iron and calcium supplements.
Avoid overconsumption of soy products that contain high levels of isoflavones, as these products can cause an increase in TSH. Over-the-counter menopause supplements, soy protein powders or other products with high concentrations of soy can exacerbate your thyroid condition.
Avoid eating too many goitrogenic foods – foods that enlarge the thyroid and reduce its responsiveness to TSH. Goitrogenic foods include turnips, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, radishes, cauliflower, rutabaga, cabbage and kale. Cooking these foods very well might minimize or eliminate their negative effect on your thyroid. Eating a modest quantity of these foods probably doesn’t create a problem for most people.
Monitor and restrict your use of certain herbal supplements. Some supplements can affect thyroid function, causing changes in your TSH, including guggul, tyrosine, kelp, bladderwrack supplements and products containing iodine, such as vitamins.
Manage your diet, stress and sleep. Your entire endocrine system responds to sleep deprivation and to periods of extreme stress. Graves' and Hashimoto’s disease patients often experience an exacerbation of their symptoms when they are overtired, stressed or eating poorly. If you have a lot of stress and anxiety, speak with a trusted friend or a professional to find ways to address your problems and ease your mind. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and improve your sleep habits to enhance your mood and stabilize your TSH levels.
- Endocrine Web; "Hypothyroidism -- Too Little Thryroid Hormone"; Dr. James Norman; May 5, 2011
- Lab Tests Online: TSH
- Medical Study Notes: What Does Thyroid Hormone Do?
- Thyroid-Info; "15 Reasons Why Your TSH May Be Fluctuating: Things to Consider When Your TSH Is Not Stabilized"; Mary Shomon; June 14, 2011