Thyroid issues often have vague symptoms. This advice will show you how to spot them.
Staying on top of your thyroid function is important. Below is a list of some red flags, indicating that something may be up with yours.
The Role Of Your Thyroid
First, it’s good to know what your thyroid does in the body. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland right near the larynx that produces hormones. The thyroid’s main function is to produce triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4), which help regulate almost all bodily functions, including:
- your weight
- energy levels
- body temperature
- how your skin, hair and nails grow.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), produced by the pituitary gland, tells your thyroid to make more T3 and T4. There are tests to check your TSH, T3 and T4 levels, all of which can tell if you have a thyroid problem.
The Most Common Signs Of A Thyroid Disorder
There are two main reasons why you may want to start monitoring your thyroid. First, any family history of thyroid conditions, such as thyroid nodules, means you should keep an eye on yours as well. Additionally, it might be wise to test your thyroid, if you’re feeling an array of confusing symptoms where you just can’t pinpoint the exact problem.
Symptoms Of A Thyroid Issue May Include:
- feeling cold or hot all the time
- hair loss
- sudden weight gain or loss
- issues with your menstrual cycle.
The two main classifications of thyroid problems are hypothyroidism, where the gland is under-active, or hyperthyroidism, where it’s overactive. However, there can be other issues as well. People often don’t think they have a thyroid issue because the symptoms are thought of as synonymous with ageing. Many people pass off fatigue, weakness, loss of memory, dry skin or hair loss as expected effects of getting older. It is important to rule out thyroid disease as a cause of these symptoms first.
How To Check Your Thyroid For Any Issues
If any of these red flags have you feeling off, it may be worth having your thyroid tested. Doctors often rule out thyroid issues by testing TSH levels. It is important to have a full thyroid panel to see exactly which levels may be out of whack. Speak to Michelle about comprehensive thyroid testing. There are also tests for thyroid antibodies to rule out the autoimmune condition, Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Symptoms of Hashimoto's include:
- weight gain
- paleness or puffiness of the face
- joint and muscle pain
- inability to get warm
- difficulty getting pregnant
- hair loss or thinning, brittle hair.
Once you've had the tests done, we'll have a picture of your thyroid health and determine the next steps to take, or check for a separate issue behind your symptoms, such as anaemia or a vitamin D deficiency unrelated to the thyroid.
Your Thyroid Does Change As You Age
As with any organ, your thyroid may start to function differently as you get older. Thyroid dysfunction can generally occur in either early adulthood (late 20s to early 30s) or between the ages of 40 to 50. In our 70s, thyroid hormone levels may shift to be a little lower. This seems to happen to protect our bodies as we age, with less stress on our heart and metabolic system. You should periodically monitor your thyroid at any age, for symptoms and feel for nodules.
What Can I Do To Support My Thyroid?
1. Eliminate The Causes Of Thyroid Problems
There are food groups where there is a link to an autoimmune disease of the thyroid that slows down your metabolism.
Gluten is one of them. If you think you are having a thyroid problem, you need to do a blood test to identify any hidden reaction to gluten found in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt. Gluten sensitivity or allergy can cause many different types of symptoms, from migraines to fatigue to weight gain. Besides doing the blood test, you can simply eliminate gluten from your diet for three weeks. If your symptoms go away, you have a clue that your body might not like this food. Reintroduce gluten into your diet and see if your symptoms recur. If they do, that is another major clue. There are other food allergies besides gluten that can stall thyroid function. You might want to work with Michelle to pinpoint and eliminate these food allergies.
Eating large amounts of raw broccoli, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens can have an adverse effect on thyroid function. Cooking these foods slightly can help with this issue.
Besides certain foods and food allergies, toxins can slow down your thyroid. Testing yourself for mercury and getting it out of your system and your environment becomes crucial. You also want to avoid fluoride, which has been linked to thyroid problems, and chlorinated water.
Checking for pesticides is more difficult, but supporting your body’s detoxification system by eating organic foods, filtering your water, and eating detoxifying foods can be very helpful to heal your thyroid.
Stress also affects your thyroid function negatively. Treating the thyroid without dealing with chronic stress can precipitate more problems. Meditation is very important to reduce stress.
2. Regular Exercise and Saunas
Exercise stimulates thyroid gland secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormones throughout the body. Ideally, you will want to sweat, and the exercise should be vigorous.
Besides being an excellent way to relax your muscles and your mind, saunas or steam baths are a good way to flush your system of pesticides that could be contributing to your thyroid problem. Saunas are an important aid to weight loss and thyroid repair because as you lose weight, fat tissue releases stored toxins. These toxins lower your T3 levels, consequently slowing your resting metabolic rate and inhibiting your fat-burning ability.
Detoxifying becomes an important part of improving your thyroid function. If you don’t detoxify, your ability to lose weight decreases as you lose weight because of the released toxins’ detrimental impact on thyroid function.
3. Eat Foods That Provide Nutritional Support For Your Thyroid
Every step on your road to healing and weight loss depends on proper nutrition and using food to communicate the right information to your genes. Treating your thyroid is no exception.
Choose foods that offer nutritional support for your thyroid. The production of thyroid hormones requires iodine and omega-3 fatty acids; converting the inactive T4 to the active T3 requires selenium; and both the binding of T3 to the receptor on the nucleus and switching it on require vitamins A and D, as well as zinc. You will find these nutrients in a whole-food, clean, organic diet.
Thyroid-boosting foods include seaweed and sea vegetables, which contain iodine. Fish (especially sardines and salmon) contains iodine, omega-3 fats, and vitamin D. Dark leafy greens contain vitamin A. Smelt, herring, scallops, and Brazil nuts contain selenium.
4. Use Supplements That Support Your Thyroid
Use a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains selenium, iodine, zinc, vitamins A and D, and omega 3 fats (fish oil).
One warning is that if your adrenal glands are burned out from long-term stress, treating the thyroid without supporting the adrenal glands through relaxation and adaptogenic herbs (such as ginseng, rhodiola, or Siberian ginseng) can actually make you feel worse.
Work with Michelle to address your individual nutrient needs for your thyroid and, if necessary, also your adrenal glands.