Is Your Thyroid Gland Letting You Down?
Your thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped organ situated at the front of your neck. It produces hormones that are vital for regulating your metabolism. Your thyroid gland determines the rate at which your body burns calories for energy, and it affects your energy level, your body temperature, your fertility and several other important body functions.
Thyroid gland disorders are incredibly common. The symptoms you may experience vary depending on whether your gland becomes over active or under active. In some thyroid conditions, hormone levels remain normal but the tissue of the thyroid is diseased.
Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland becomes over active. Normal body processes speed up and this causes some uncomfortable symptoms. Common symptoms of an over active thyroid include:
- Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia
- Rapid pulse rate
- Weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Feeling excessively hot and intolerance to the heat
- High blood pressure
Hypothyroidism is where the thyroid gland becomes under active. All metabolic processes slow down. Common symptoms of an under active thyroid gland include:
- Weight gain
- Fluid retention
- Intolerance to the cold and feeling excessively cold
- Dry, brittle hair
- Scalp hair loss
The symptoms of an under active thyroid gland are often subtle and they develop gradually. Therefore they are not always recognized immediately by yourself or your doctor.
In the vast majority of cases, thyroid gland disorders are caused by one or more of the following factors:
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Immune system dysfunction
- Exposure to environmental chemicals
- Genetic factors
Luckily nutritional medicine has a lot to offer to improve the health of your thyroid, improve your energy levels and help you maintain a healthy weight.
I have found that the most important nutrients for the thyroid gland are iodine, selenium, vitamin D and zinc. Deficiency of these nutrients is extremely common, particularly in people with a thyroid problem. That is why I have combined these nutrients together in the one capsule to create Thyroid Health capsules.
Thyroid Health capsules will not interact with thyroid hormone replacement such as thyroxine (Synthroid, Oroxine) or Cytomel or Tertroxin. Indeed, Thyroid Health capsules will often improve the action of thyroid hormone replacement.
Here are some other tips for keeping your thyroid gland healthy
- Consume adequate high quality protein. The thyroid gland requires the amino acid tyrosine in order to manufacture thyroid hormones. Tyrosine is found in protein rich foods such as red meat, fish, poultry, but also almonds, avocados, bananas and pumpkin seeds.
- If you have an under active thyroid gland, avoid consuming large quantities of goitrogens. These are substances that can suppress the thyroid gland if consumed in very large quantities. Foods rich in goitrogens include raw vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts; as well as soy, millet, peanuts and corn. Cooking these foods is advisable and inactivates the majority of goitrogens.
- The majority of thyroid conditions are caused by an autoimmune disease; meaning the immune system is responsible for causing the thyroid to become either under active or over active. Research has shown that gluten intolerance can be a triggering factor in autoimmune thyroid disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, kamut and barley. Many thyroid patients benefit from following a gluten free diet. For more information about autoimmune disease see my book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.
- Ensure you have a healthy liver. The liver is the main site of conversion of thyroid hormone (T4) into its more active form (T3). A sluggish or fatty liver may impair the efficiency of this process.
- Ensure your diet contains adequate levels of beneficial fatty acids, as found in oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, anchovies, mackerel), raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed vegetable and seed oils, avocadoes and organic coconut oil. These fats can reduce inflammation in autoimmune thyroid disease, and improve the health of thyroid cells. Consider a fish oil supplement if you don’t eat oily fish like sardines regularly.
- Minimize your exposure to the heavy metals mercury, cadmium and lead, as they can interfere with the manufacture of thyroid hormones.
- Minimize your exposure to pesticides and insecticides, chemical antiperspirants and deodorants and other toxic chemicals, as some have been linked with the formation of thyroid nodules, cancer and autoimmune thyroid disease.
- Get your doctor to examine your thyroid gland for lumps, bumps or enlargement. If any lumps are found you need to ask your doctor for an ultrasound scan of the thyroid gland.
- If you are fatigued, ask your doctor to do a blood test for thyroid function.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.