Are you constantly feeling exhausted and irritable? Is your weight and moods on a constant roller coaster… your menstrual cycle erratic and your hair thinning and falling out? Do you feel as if your weightloss is slow even though you are doing everything right?
If your ‘engine’ is sluggish, you may have a thyroid issue.
It is easy to dismiss many of these symptoms as caused by stress or normal ageing. But more often than not, the Thyroid is to blame. Thyroid is one of the most misunderstood and mismanaged hormones.
Many common problems such as fatigue, depression and difficulty losing weight can be due to low Thyroid hormones. And women are up to 8 times more likely to experience a thyroid imbalance than men.
Could you be one of the millions suffering from an undiagnosed thyroid imbalance? And can your Thyroid be recharged?
What causes Thyroid issues?
Pituitary dysfunction from a variety of causes, including viruses, bacteria, stress, yeast, inflammation, toxins, pesticides, plastics and mitochondria dysfunction can cause the Thyroid to stop functioning properly.
Why is an inefficient Thyroid such a problem?
The thyroid is such an important hormone, especially in women, because it touches or is involved in nearly every body system. This butterfly-shaped thyroid gland is closely interconnected with the bloodstream and brain to produce and release thyroid hormones into your body. These hormones provide the energy your body needs to perform essential functions, from metabolism to body temperature regulation.
How does the thyroid work
As the engine of your body, the thyroid needs fuel. Iodine, a mineral found naturally in food, functions as that fuel. Your thyroid identifies iodine in your bloodstream and extracts it to synthesize thyroid hormones called T4 and T3.
The pituitary gland in the brain works with the thyroid “engine” and iodine “fuel” to accelerate or slow the production of thyroid hormones by increasing or decreasing its production of thyroid-stimulating hormones (TSH). Abnormally high TSH levels indicate an underperforming Thyroid, ie hypothyroidism.
When it goes wrong….
Just like you don’t wake up one morning weighing significantly more than you did the night before, you don’t develop a thyroid condition overnight. Your thyroid function either improves or declines gradually over time.
Any of the following issues may indicate that your thyroid isn’t working the way it should (hypothyroid) :
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dry skin and coarse or thinning hair
- Intolerance to the cold
- Weight gain
- Muscle cramps
- Irregular periods
It is also a serious health risk…
Most people wouldn’t think to make a connection between thyroid function and heart disease, but the research is clear. Women with subclinical hypothyroidism have twice the risk of developing hardened arteries, heart attack, and stroke.
The simple act of optimizing your thyroid function may literally cut your risk of heart disease in half!
So not only does optimizing your thyroid make you feel great by increasing your mood and energy, and look good by improving hair, skin and weight, it also prevents a doubling of your cardiovascular disease risk profile.
What if you have many of these symptoms but your Thyroid level tests ‘normal’?
“Normal” is a dangerous word. It sounds positive. In reality, “normal” indicates that you merely fall within the standard margin of the average unhealthy adult. If the average adult is overweight and borderline diabetic, is that ‘normal’ a good thing?
Obviously not. That’s why there’s such a dramatic difference between normal thyroid function and an optimal thyroid function.
“Normal” thyroid function is imperfect. It keeps you chronically operating at 70% of your best self. Yes, you can survive like that, but it’s not how you want to live your life.
There’s no single “perfect” thyroid level. Everybody is different. But most women usually feel better with natural thyroid free T3 levels between 4 and 4.4 pg/mL.
How can you Optimize your thyroid function?
Several health studies have shown that T3 and T4 hormone levels increase with exercise. Beyond helping to stimulate thyroid production, exercise also helps to counteract many of the side effects of hypothyroidism such as gaining weight, loss of muscle, depression, and low energy levels.
A healthy Diet such as the TLC Program with good protein, moderate to low fat and low carbohydrate/ no sugar is essential in optimizing Thyroid function.
Eat More of These:
Iodine is needed for the body to be able to produce the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that activates the thyroid. Iodine, however, is not produced in the body and is introduced to the body by food.
Iodine-rich foods include dairy products such as eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other foods that carry a lot of iodine include sea foods, including seaweed, shellfish, and saltwater fish.
Eat Less of These:
Certain foods can, although healthy for most people, work against individuals who have hypothyroidism, because the foods suppress thyroid function. If an individual is on a thyroid medication, these foods can stop the medication from being absorbed into the body, therefore rendering it ineffective.
One of the main categories of food to avoid is anything from the cabbage family, such as cabbage, kale, and watercress. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, rutabaga, peanuts, and soybeans should also be avoided. All of these foods contain the chemical goitrogen. This chemical interferes with thyroid health and functioning. The chemical loses most of its potency and can be eaten when cooked, but it should not be eaten raw.
Refined sugars are another food that should be avoided as much as possible. Sugar can destroy one’s adrenal and thyroid glands. When sugars enter the body, these glands fire up and start to work. If they are faced with an endless overload of sugar, they remain constantly activated until they burn out and stop working altogether. They gradually recover, only to burn out again at the next sugar overload. Eventually, if this cycle continues, one can cause permanent damage to these glands. Also, during all the time the glands are down, symptoms of hypothyroidism become worse.
Check your levels:
Get your levels checked, specifically TSH, free T4, and free T3. These tests are simple: no fasting required! You can get them any time. (Please note: Biotin supplements can interfere with Thyroid test results and give false high or low TSH readings. Ideally Biotin should not be taken within 48 hours before a Thyroid test)
Medication and Supplements:
If your tests show hypothyroidism or even a ‘low normal’ functioning Thyroid, you should chat to your doctor about taking synthetic Thyroid (levothyroxine) or a natural dessicated Thyroid supplement. A homeopath will also be able to advise on a natural supplement.
The Thyroid Trio, which includes tyrosine, iodine, and selenium, provides three essential building blocks that do wonders for regulating your thyroid hormone.
You may also want to add zinc to your diet, since it can ward off thyroid dysfunction, protects the gut, and is crucial for the proper conversion of certain thyroid hormones.
Taking a good multivitamin (TLC Multivitamin) containing Vitamins A, D, Selenium, Iron and Zinc is important, as is a good Vitamin B supplement. (TLC Smart IQ).
Finally, staying hydrated, destressing and getting enough sleep are important components in optimizing your Thyroid function.
Get your engine recharged and working efficiently!