This 2-inch-long butterfly-shaped organ rests along the outside of the esophagus in the human throat. As a part of the endocrine system, it releases hormones that manage the metabolism.
Metabolism is a word we hear a lot. But it’s rarely explained. It describes the manner in which our bodies use energy to perform various life functions like:
- Heart rate
- Body weight regulation
- Central nervous system
- Muscular strength
- Body temperature
Our optimal metabolism is determined by several factors including:
- Physical Activity Levels
What Are the Symptoms of a Malfunctioning Thyroid?
When the thyroid isn’t working at its best, each of these very essential body functions suffers. Most of us have been around people who say they’re “freezing” or “burning up” when everyone else is comfortable. This is just one symptom of a thyroid that isn’t functioning at it should.
Let’s look at some others.
Overactive Thyroid (Hyperthyroidism)
An overactive thyroid is pumping too much hormone into our bodies. In this state, our bodies use energy at a higher rate.
It leads to:
- High heart and breathing rates
- Shaking and Fidgeting
- Losing weight quickly
We could compare the overactive thyroid to someone who’s constantly splurging unnecessarily.
Underactive Thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
An underactive thyroid is releasing too few hormones. With it, our bodies are being too conservative with energy consumption.
It can lead to:
- Memory problems
- Sleep problems
- Weak muscles
- High cholesterol
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Among others
An underactive thyroid is like a person who pinches every penny.
Either extreme is unhealthy. Balance is the answer.
How to Maintain a Healthy Thyroid
When it comes to our thyroids, there are some clear do’s and don’t’s to follow. These involve making smart food choices and avoiding habits that can damage the thyroid’s balanced function. Let’s look and some diet and lifestyle considerations to maintain a healthy thyroid.
When people are trying to lose weight, cutting calories is a go-to method. But cutting calories back too far will lead to a lowered metabolism. When we’re dieting, the brain tells the thyroid that there’s not enough food to eat.
The thyroid goes into famine-mode. It’s doesn’t know when its next meal will be. It tries to conserve energy. That makes it harder to lose weight the longer and more often we diet. And as soon as we go off our diets, we quickly gain it back because we’re still in famine-mode.
Consider the Gluten Connection
The evidence is strong. Strong links exist between Hashimoto’s and Graves disease, which are two thyroid autoimmune conditions, and gluten intolerance/coeliac disease. That’s also known as celiac disease.
Those with this disease experience an immune response in the small intestine when they eat foods that contain gluten. This leads to inflammation. With continued exposure to gluten, permanent damage occurs to the intestine’s lining. The tiny hairs called celia that help us absorb food die.
Studies show the presence of Anti-endomysium antibodies we found in those with thyroid conditions. In one study, 5.5% were found to have the antibodies. Antibodies are a healthy part of our immune system. But when a person has an auto-immune disease, they over-produce and cause damage.
In the case of gluten-sensitivity, if a person continues to eat gluten it causes this damage, which impacts a person’s ability to:
- Absorb nutrients
- Absorb medications (including any meds for thyroid)
- Build and maintain healthy bones
It can also lead to intestinal lymphoma, a form of cancer.
Other studies find that patients with thyroid disorders have increased frequency of subclinical coeliac disease. “Subclinical” simply means that the condition is not severe enough at the time to appear on tests.
Those suffering with thyroid conditions should consider a gluten-free lifestyle. They should get tested for gluten sensitivity.
At this time, studies have not been able to conclusively say that a gluten-free diet can prevent auto-immune conditions. But the evidence does support that going gluten-free can reduce complications related to thyroid disorders.
Eat a Healthy, Varietal Diet
A healthy, whole food diet filled with a variety of foods within the various food groups will help regulate thyroid function. It will improve overall health, weight management and energy. We should focus on keeping energy levels stable. That means avoiding sugar as well as eating more protein and healthy fats like olive oil, fish and avocado.
Certain supplements can help manage thyroid symptoms. These include:
- B6, B5 & B12
For example, Metagenics Thyrosol capsules provide our bodies with a proprietary blend of nutrients. They’re designed to keep the thyroid functioning at its best. Give it a try. You’ll feel the difference.
Get on an Exercise Routine
Exercising every day will improve circulation and endocrine system function. It also helps keep energy levels balanced and improves sleep. To keep the thyroid functioning in peak condition, we should plan an activity every day. Some days it may be yoga, others walking, others weightlifting.
Balance the Thyroid. Feel Great.
It’s a little organ that doesn’t get a lot of recognition. But it clearly has a big job to do. From regulating energy levels to impacting our moods, it’s a little organ none of us want to be without.
Dr. Kelly Austin with Prime Wellness understands that proper nutrition is the pro-active way to manage your health. She’ll work with you through testing and consultation. She’ll develop a fully personalized prevention and treatment plan for your unique needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.
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