A small gland with a lot of responsibility. Make sure you're taking care of yours.
What is the job of the thyroid?
The thyroid is a gland which sits on the front of your neck and has a butterfly shape. Its main job is to make hormones which are secreted and used in various tissues throughout the body. These hormones have a wide variety of jobs like: regulating your metabolism, digestion, mood, energy, cognitive function, body temperature and mood.
What happens when it’s not working properly?
If the gland producing hormones isn’t functioning properly, the hormones it produces will also be impacted. The gland my start producing too many or not enough of these hormones leading to different symptom sets.
Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone. If there is not enough thyroid hormone, the systems relying on this will under function.
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism: constipation, fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, brittle nails, cold intolerance, dry skin, muscle weakness.
Hyperthyroidism is when the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, which causes an over-functioning of the systems relying on this. This too, throws off the balance in your body, leading to a different subset of symptoms.
Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism: excess sweating, weight loss, anxiety, heat intolerance, tremor, increased bowel movements, weakness.
What can you do to optimize thyroid function?
Enhance your diet
Common food sensitivities like those to gluten, dairy, and eggs can trigger immune attacks on the thyroid which can trigger to autoimmune thyroid conditions like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ Disease. An elimination diet can help you identify any food sensitivities and get your body back to performing properly.
Refined sugars in foods like cookies, granola bars, and juices have been linked with lower thyroid function. Sugar itself is also inflammatory, which can lead to metabolic dysfunction and insulin resistance which can further exacerbate symptoms.
Good foods to eat to support your thyroid function are foods high in zinc, selenium, iodine and antioxidants. Foods high in these minerals are: Brazil nuts, Oysters, Avocados, Dark leafy greens.
When stressed, the body is less efficient at converting inactive thyroid hormone to the active form, meaning it cannot do its job in the body. Important functions like regulating metabolism will therefore not function properly. Additionally, when stress is high for long periods of time, a hormone called reverse T3 becomes high which blocks the use of thyroid hormone.
Limit chemical exposure
Exposure to chemicals from plastics, cleaning, and makeup products can also impair thyroid function. These chemicals enter the bloodstream through skin, and are stored in fat tissue where they disturb hormone production. An increased toxic load in the body can also lead to a hyperactive immune response- progressing to autoimmune issues such as Hashimoto’s.
Heavy metals like mercury can impact thyroid function because its similar chemical makeup to iodine. The body may confuse heavy metals for iodine, an essential player in hormone production, and then transport this toxic metal to the thyroid. This can result in iodine deficiency that makes it difficult for your thyroid to produce hormones.
I hope that was helpful! As always, please let me know if you have any questions!
Yours in health,