Tired, Overweight, or Feel Anxious?
YOU COULD HAVE A SLUGGISH THYROID
Does fatigue drag you down day after day? Do you have excess weight, brain fog, poor sleep, hair loss, or often feel anxious? Your thyroid could be to blame. This gland controls the rate of activity of all the cells of your body, so if it is underactive, everything slows down. Your metabolism, energy production, digestion, moods, libido, or temperature control can be affected. Getting your thyroid right is critical to having good energy levels, feeling your best, and avoiding some important health problems. The most common symptoms of low thyroid are:
- Feeling tired, no energy, or exhausted
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Feeling anxious or depressed
- Brain fog or poor memory
- Poor sleep
- Fatter than normal throat
- Coarse, dry hair and dry skin
- Hair loss
- Abnormal periods
- Difficulty falling pregnant
- Low libido
- Sensitivity to cold
- Muscle cramps and aches
When left untreated, low thyroid function can also raise your cholesterol levels, and so increase your risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Your Thyroid Hormones
Your pituitary is a gland attached to your brain, and it releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to control your thyroid. The less active your thyroid is, the more TSH your pituitary will produce. Your thyroid gland then produces the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 (thyroxine), which control the rest of your body.
The IMPORTANCE OF IODINE
The names T3 and T4 refer to the number of iodine atoms in each hormone, as iodine is the key nutrient needed to create them. Iodine is particularly important for women who are pregnant or trying to fall pregnant, as the mother’s thyroid hormones are needed for proper brain and nerve development of their growing babies. During pregnancy, the mother’s T4 production doubles, increasing her daily iodine requirement. If she is low in iodine and cannot produce the right level of thyroid hormones, the baby could be born with mental impairment and learning delay. Even a moderate iodine deficiency in a pregnant woman can lower her infant’s IQ. In 2007 the WHO estimated that over 30% of the world’s population (2 billion people) have insufficient iodine. Because iodine deficiency is so common, it is one of the leading causes of mental retardation. (As low iodine intake affected a massive 43% of our population, the Australian government has made it mandatory for iodine to be added to bread. However, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or considering becoming pregnant frequently still need iodine supplements.)
Other important nutrients for proper thyroid function include:
- Selenium – is the next most important mineral, as it is needed for activation of the thyroid hormones. When the selenium levels of patients suffering from thyroid disease were tested, they were all found to be lower than for normal healthy people. Also, free radicals are produced when the hormones are created, and these can destroy the thyroid cells. However, selenium protects the thyroid from this damage.
- Zinc – in animal studies, T3 and free T4 concentrations were 30% lower in those with zinc deficiency.
- Iron – low iron inhibits the production of thyroid hormones.
- Copper – the body cannot regulate thyroid hormone effectively in cases of copper deficiency. (One study revealed that copper deficient pregnant rats give birth to infant rats that produce 48% less T3 than those born from healthy mothers.)
CAUSES OF THYROID PROBLEMS
The most common cause of low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) is Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the thyroid gland. The damage to the thyroid prevents it from producing enough hormones. Other causes include:
- Nutrient deficiencies (see above)
- Stress, or any form of shock
- Excess adrenaline
- Excess kale in your diet (usually from drinking kale in juices). Kale prevents your thyroid from getting enough iodine.
- Excess soy. Some of the chemicals found in products like soy milk could interfere with your thyroid’s ability to make hormones.
- Food intolerances or allergies. For example, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. If you have sensitivity to gluten, it can damage the lining of your small intestine. This damage can cause serious health problems and is linked to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s disease.
BUT MY DOCTOR SAYS MY THYROID IS FINE!
Often a client will come to us who has had a blood test, and their doctor says that their results are within normal range, so their thyroid is fine. However, when we check their blood test, their TSH levels may be toward the higher end of the range. (The higher the TSH, the weaker your thyroid is working.) Most pathology laboratories use a TSH range of 0.4 to 4.0 mIU/L to determine if there is a thyroid problem. However, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemists advised that 95% of people without any indication of thyroid disease have a TSH concentration below 2.5 mIU/L, and so it has been advocated that the upper level of the TSH range be lowered to 2.5 mIU/L. And many highly experienced natural therapists consider any level above 2.0 mIU/L to indicate a sluggish thyroid.
In addition, blood tests will normally only check the TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) levels. Testing for T3, T4, and thyroid antibody levels gives a more accurate picture of how the thyroid is functioning. However, doctors are reluctant to do these tests unless a thyroid disorder has been established.
If your TSH levels are above the ‘normal’ range, you would normally be put on thyroid medication for the rest of your life. We believe it is better to improve your thyroid before that happens. So if you think your thyroid may not be working well, or you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, please book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment. We can evaluate how well your thyroid is working, what has probably caused the problem, and the quickest and easiest way to get it working well again.