The thyroid is a small butterfly shaped gland located at the base of the neck that helps regulate a person’s metabolism by producing hormones.
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system, which is made up of glands that produce, store, and release hormones into the bloodstream so the hormones can reach the body’s cells. The thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods you eat to make two main hormones: • Triiodothyronine (T3) • Thyroxine (T4) It is important that T3 and T4 levels are neither too high nor too low.
T3 and T4 regulate your heart rate and how fast your intestines process food. So if T3 and T4 levels are low(Hypothyroidism), your heart rate may be slower than normal, and you may have constipation/weight gain. If T3 and T4 levels are high (Hyperthyroidism), you may have a rapid heart rate and diarrhea/weight loss.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Trouble sleeping
- Tiredness and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry skin and hair
- Sensitivity to cold temperature
- Frequent, heavy periods
- Joint and muscle pain
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Irritability or moodiness
- Nervousness, hyperactivity
- Sweating or sensitivity to high temperatures
- Hand trembling (shaking)
- Hair Loss
- Missed or light menstrual periods
Prevention and diet tips
- Stop smoking: Cigarette smoke has a variety of toxins like Thiocyanate which disrupts iodine uptake and in turn affects thyroid’s performance
- Protect yourself from X-rays: Thyroid gland is most sensitive to radiations and hence during dental X-rays or X-rays for head, neck or chest ask for a thyroid collar.
- Avoid starvation diets: Study from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism discovered that fasting resulted in a 53 percent reduction in serum T3 levels (your active thyroid hormone that increases metabolism) and a 58 percent increase in reverse T3 (RT3) levels, which block thyroid hormone.
- Reduce Stress: The impact of stress on the thyroid occurs by slowing your body’s metabolism.
- Avoid processed food : Processed foods have a lot of sodium and people with hypothyroidism should avoid sodium.
- Avoid foods with soy: Studies suggest that phytoestrogens in soy-rich foods may hinder the activity of an enzyme that makes thyroid hormones.
- Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables: Blueberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and other foods rich in antioxidants can improve overall health and benefit the thyroid gland.
- Intake of Selenium rich foods: Tiny amounts of selenium are needed for the enzymes that make thyroid hormones to work properly. Eating selenium-rich foods, such as sunflower seeds or Brazil nuts, can be beneficial.
- Tyrosine: This amino acid is used by the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4. Good sources of tyrosine are meats, dairy, and legumes.
- Moderate exercise: Exercise with medication improves metabolism by burning calories and developing muscle, which in turn burns fat.
With a little help from medication and some lifestyle changes, thyroid disorders can be easily managed to live a normal life.