The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits in the throat, which releases hormones that govern many functions in the body including metabolism. The thyroid gland is very sensitive to stressors and can easily be tipped into being underactive (not producing enough thyroid hormone) or overactive (producing too much thyroid hormone). Unfortunately, thorough thyroid testing is often not completed, or the results are incorrectly interpreted, and therefore thyroid imbalances commonly go undiagnosed.
Signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid include:
- Low mood or depression
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Hair loss
- Dry skin
- Excess sleeping
- Poor circulation
- Cold hands and feet
- Poor memory and concentration
- Brittle nails
- Fluid retention
- Low body temperature first thing in the morning
- Low libido/sex drive
- Delayed ovulation
- Problems falling pregnant
- Enlarged thyroid gland/swollen neck
- PCOS – there is a strong link between PCOS and thyroid problems
Signs and symptoms of an overactive thyroid include:
- Anxiety or irritability
- Unexplained weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Increased sweating
- Reduced heat tolerance
- Diarrhoea or increased bowel movements
- High body temperature first thing in the morning
- Enlarged thyroid gland/swollen neck
- Poor sleep
- Problems conceiving
- Irregular periods
There is much that can be done to improve your thyroid function, and this will vary from person to person depending on which of the many thyroid hormones are out of balance, and what the cause behind the imbalance is (stress, toxins, trauma, infection, etc). However, some simple steps to start to improve the function of your thyroid include:
Remove all gluten – a protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley and some oats. Gluten can trigger an autoimmune thyroid response in many people, and removing gluten can have an enormous impact of both symptoms and thyroid antibody levels.
Ensure you are consuming adequate iodine – this is a mineral which thyroid hormones are made of. If you have thyroid antibodies or an overactive thyroid then iodine supplementation may not be suitable. Always check with your healthcare practitioner and never self-prescribe.
Selenium – is an antioxidant that protects the thyroid from autoimmune damage and helps with the conversion of thyroid hormones. Selenium is found in high amounts in Brazil nuts – just 2 per day is enough to meet your requirements of this thyroid loving mineral.
Tyrosine – is another nutrient which helps to build thyroid hormones – found in protein rich foods, as well as zinc, iron and copper – found in a wide variety of whole foods including red meat, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
Be aware of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDC’s) – which interfere with the bodies natural balance of hormones. EDC’s include parabens, phthalates and bisphenol-A (BPA). These can be found in make-up, shampoos, conditioners, body products, household cleaning products, and plastics such as tupperware and cling film. Opt for natural cleaning products, mineral makeups, paraben free shampoo, buy a water filter, and ditch the plastic.
Goitrogens are substances that disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. Goitrogenic foods include broccoli, kale, soy, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage. Cooking these foods reduce their goitrogenic activity – so if the thyroid is dysfunctional, avoid these foods in their raw form but enjoy them and all of their health benefits once they are steamed or stir-fried.
If you are ready to say goodbye to your thyroid problems for good and regain your mood, energy, libido, gut health, hair growth and zest for life, book a 1:1 appointment here. Or, you can purchase How to Heal Your Thyroid, the complete guide to optimising your thyroid health.