How much do you know about your thyroid?
Did you know that it is an essential hormone gland, shaped just like a butterfly?
Located at the base of the throat, the thyroid regulates our metabolism and other vital body functions (like your heartbeat!), produces hormones, and supports our growth and development.
It won’t cause you any problems when given the proper nutrients and rest. But poor diet and chronic stress can turn things in the wrong direction FAST.
If any of the following sound familiar, your thyroid could be in trouble (and you don’t even know it!):
- You’ve put on some weight over the last few months or years, and no diet or workout routine seems to work.
- You find it impossible to stay awake throughout the entire day, and almost always need a 2PM nap.
- You frequently feel bloated after eating, and/ or nauseated for no reason.
- You rarely sleep through the entire night, and you wake up feeling tired.
These subtle changes can take weeks, months, or years to develop, and can easily be mistaken for other problems.
How the thyroid gland works:
The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, and is responsible for dispensing two important hormones into your bloodstream: Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4). These hormones are made up of iodine and regulate the speed your body’s cells work and move.
Your hypothalamus in the brain partners with your pituitary gland (which produces Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to monitor T3 and T4 levels in the body, and signal to your thyroid when levels are too low or too high. When T3 and T4 levels are low in the blood, the pituitary gland releases more TSH to increase thyroid hormone production. If T3 and T4 levels are high, the pituitary gland releases less TSH to the thyroid gland to slow production of these hormones. Both men and women can develop thyroid hormone imbalances, but it is a much more common occurrence in women.
Like a scale trying to remain perfectly even, there are many factors that can throw your thyroid hormones off balance:
- Lack of dietary iodine will starve your thyroid of the essential nutrient it needs to produce these vital hormones.
- Not getting enough sleep will lower your T3 and T4 levels, increase inflammation, and increase cortisol levels (all of which will dysregulate your thyroid).
- Consuming highly inflammatory oils, such as canola oil, vegetable oil, or soy oil will increase inflammation and gastrointestinal upset, making it harder for your body to absorb good nutrients.
- Chronic stress over long periods of time (such as work or personal troubles) will start to lessen the thyroid’s ability to respond to TSH properly.
You can learn more from the video I made on this topic:
Things can tip too drastically in either direction, causing different symptoms and problems:
Hyperthyroidism means the thyroid is working in overdrive, and producing too much T3 and T4. This can happen as a result of an iodine surplus in the body, thyroid inflammation, or as a byproduct of a number of other disorders. Those struggling with hyperthyroidism will likely experience anxiety and moodiness, fatigue and muscle weakness, drastic changes in appetite, or heartbeat irregularities.
Hypothyroidism is the exact opposite and means the thyroid is not producing enough T3 and T4 hormones. It can happen as a result of a pituitary gland issue, iodine deficiency, or genetics. Those struggling with hypothyroidism may experience brittleness in the hair and nails, muscle cramps, abnormal menstrual cycles, decreased libido and constipation.
Looking to improve your thyroid health?
Unfortunately, thyroid health is rarely a priority in Western Medicine practices today. While you may receive a blood test to measure your current thyroid hormone levels, the solution is often a medication prescription. Rarely will a treatment protocol evaluate the root cause of your thyroid dysfunction - which is essential in achieving true healing?
A functional medicine practitioner will not only establish a healing protocol to alleviate your symptoms, but they will work with you to uncover the root issue that is preventing your thyroid from working optimally.
If you think you are struggling with thyroid dysfunction, here are some easy healing tips you can try today!
- Aim to consume more salt, seafood, animal meat, and dairy products regularly to increase your body’s iodine levels.
- Stick to consuming extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil only to eliminate inflammatory fats.
- Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Consider a thyroid-healing supplement protocol, including zinc, selenium and iodine, or guggul extract.
A dysfunctional thyroid can have a catastrophic effect on many other aspects of your life and health if you leave it untreated for too long. Luckily, our expert team specializes in helping people just like you overcome thyroid dysfunction.
Contact our clinic today to book your Thyroid Strategy Session and start your healing journey!