Your thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck below your Adam’s apple, is your chief gland of energy and metabolism and is like a master lever that fires up the genes that keep cells doing their jobs.  Making dietary and lifestyle changes is your first line of defense in treating hypothyroidism, which include symptoms like fatigue and brain fog and low energy.  Here are suggestions to maintain healthy thyroid function:

1. Just say no to the dietary bungee cord. Greatly reduce or eliminate caffeine and sugar, including refined carbohydrates like flour, which the body treats like sugar.

2. Increase protein.  Protein transports thyroid hormone to all your tissues and can help normalize thyroid function.

3. Get fat. If you’re getting insufficient fat and cholesterol, you could be exacerbating hormonal imbalance, which includes thyroid hormones. Natural, healthful fats include olive oil, avocados, flax seeds, fish; nuts and nut butters; hormone- and antibiotic-free full fat cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese (yes, full fat, not skim) and coconut milk products.

4. Nutrient-up. Having enough of the following micronutrients and minerals can alleviate  symptoms of hypothyroidism: vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, the B vitamins, and iodine.

5. Decrease Food Sensitivities. Offending or inflammatory foods will increase an autoimmune response in the body (like gluten) so remove these foods to keep the thyroid healthy.

6. Do a gut check.  20 percent of thyroid function depends on a sufficient supply of healthy gut bacteria, so it’s best to supplement with probiotics (friendly intestinal bacteria).

7. Address adrenal fatigue. It’s common to have hypothyroidism with some level of adrenal fatigue.  Reduce stress to keep cortisol levels balanced for efficient thyroid function.

8. Ask for the thyroid collar when getting an x-ray. The thyroid is sensitive to radiation, so next time you’re getting an x-ray at the dentist, ask for the thyroid collar. Do not let your thyroid get zapped.