What You Need To Know About Your Thyroid

Post-dinner hunger pangs, constant fatigue and bloating may seem like unrelated symptoms, but the root cause could be the same. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your throat and it’s responsible for numerous functions, including energy and hunger levels, as well as temperature regulation and metabolism. It therefore stands to reason that when things go wrong, they can go really wrong. Here, we went to two experts to learn more…
By Tor West /

What Exactly Is The Thyroid?

“The thyroid is a small gland but has far-reaching effects. Keeping it balanced is imperative for overall health. Think of your thyroid as your body’s engine – it controls all your metabolic processes. Located in your neck, your thyroid produces two main thyroid hormones, known as T3 and T4. These hormones travel throughout the body controlling the speed at which everything works – otherwise known as your metabolism. Both T3 and T4 hormones are incredibly powerful and can affect digestion, energy levels, heartbeat, body temperature, and emotions. Our brains monitor how much thyroid there is in the blood and if it’s low, it instructs the pituitary gland to release more TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), which in turn tells the thyroid gland to secrete more hormones into the body. If the gland is already producing too much, the brain reduces the amount of TSH to the thyroid. It’s a delicate balancing act.” – Pippa Campbell, nutritionist & nutrigenomics practitioner

What Happens To The Thyroid When It Falls Out Of Balance?

“The thyroid can either become underactive or overactive. When it comes to hypothyroidism –an underactive thyroid – it’s about things becoming slow and sluggish. The most common signs are low energy, brain fog, headaches, weight gain, depression, constipation, cold hands and feet, low blood pressure, low libido, infertility and dry skin. The opposite is true of hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid. Common signs that things are running quicker than they should include an inability to relax, palpitations and breathlessness, insomnia, anxiety, weight loss, feeling overly warm, even on cool days, excessive sweating, and brittle bones.” – Jenny McGuckian, nutritional therapist

So, What Are The Signs Your Thyroid Is Out Of Balance?

“As with all hormone imbalances, there’s a knock-on effect in other areas of the body, which means that seemingly unrelated symptoms are often rooted in the same cause. When your thyroid hormone is deficient, your metabolism slows, which leads you to gain weight no matter how healthy your diet. Cholesterol levels can increase due to poor metabolism of fats and sluggish digestion will lead to constipation. You feel tired every day, no matter how much sleep you get, and your libido may also be lowered. Your once shiny, healthy hair will become dry, thin or fall out and your nails will become brittle. Frequent colds or chest infections could become your new normal and muscular aches and pains will be more obvious. However, these symptoms can all be caused by other conditions and lifestyle factors, so don’t try to self-diagnose.” – Pippa

Think of your thyroid as your BODY'S ENGINE – it controls all your METABOLIC PROCESSES.

How Common Are Thyroid Issues?

“Research shows hypothyroidism – or low thyroid function – is more common than an overactive thyroid, affecting one in five women. Unfortunately, over half of these cases aren’t diagnosed. Hypothyroidism is fast becoming one of the most misdiagnosed conditions, yet its incidence is increasingly widespread. It’s not unusual for patients to be offered anti-depressants when they complain of tiredness, weight gain and feeling low, when in fact the problem stems from the thyroid.” – Pippa

Are Thyroid Problems Genetic?

“They can be, but not always. Having a genetic susceptibility can put you at an increased risk of a thyroid problem, but the environment you expose yourself to in terms of diet, stress and toxins will influence whether certain genes switch on.” – Jenny

What Lifestyle Habits Affect The Thyroid?

“Many different factors can affect the thyroid and how well it performs, including:

  • Stress: When you are under stress, the thyroid reduces the number of hormones it produces, which can lead to an underactive thyroid.
  • Childbirth: Postpartum thyroiditis happens when a woman’s thyroid becomes inflamed after having a baby, although this is rare.
  • Inflammation: This can be due to poor diet, gut health or chronic infections.
  • Toxins: Found in heavy metals such as aluminium, lead and mercury, as well as in BPA found in plastics and pesticides found in food.
  • HRT: Women with pre-existing hypothyroidism treated with thyroxine may require an increase in their dose of thyroxine after starting HRT. If you are on HRT and take thyroxine, get your thyroid levels tested after starting HRT.” – Pippa
TOO MUCH cardio – especially STEADY-STATE cardio – can cause women to move themselves into a state of HYPOTHYROIDISM, which can lead to WEIGHT GAIN.

How Can Your Diet Support Your Thyroid?

“Food is an amazing medicine and addressing your nutritional intake can be a powerful tool to restore thyroid function and minimise negative symptoms. If you suffer from an underactive thyroid, eat foods that are rich in iodine, selenium, iron and glutathione. Eggs are great, and are best eaten whole, as iodine and selenium are found in the yolk while the whites are full of protein. Any form of meat is also great, as this is rich in selenium. When it comes to veg, avoid eating raw cruciferous veg (rocket, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower) and instead ensure they are lightly steamed. Mushrooms have high levels of selenium and seaweed is one of the best sources of iodine. Bananas are higher in selenium than other fruit but due to their high sugar content, are best not eaten too often. Rice, sunflower seeds, quinoa, chia seeds, flaxseeds and brazil nuts are also great.” – Pippa

“Ensure you are eating enough, especially if you are very active. Cellular hypothyroidism is a situation where you have enough thyroid hormone in the blood, but it isn’t making its way into cells because low energy is impacting the transport proteins that shuttle T3 into the cells. Eating a low glycaemic index diet can also help control blood sugar, which can have a knock-on effect on the transportation of thyroid hormones.” – Jenny

What About Exercise?

“There’s a powerful connection between exercise and weight gain, as studies show excessive cardio training can switch off production of the thyroid hormone T3. Too much cardio – especially steady-state cardio – can cause women to move themselves into a state of hypothyroidism, which can lead to weight gain. The high energy consumption required during cardio training sends out danger signals to the body, which in turn switches it into ‘survival mode’, and the metabolism is then lowered to save energy. Instead of burning body fat, this is then stored to ‘protect’ the body. The belief that excessive cardio training is the solution to a well-shaped body is a myth – weight training, combined with HIIT, is a much more effective way to work out when it comes to thyroid health.” – Pippa 

What Tests Are Best At Diagnosing Thyroid Dysfunction?

“If you suspect your thyroid is out of balance, the best thing you can do is get tested. Your GP will offer a blood test, although they will only test for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), even though the most common markers are actually TSH, T4 and T3. Ask your GP for a full thyroid panel that encompasses all the thyroid hormones, as well as your thyroid antibodies, which can show if there is a wider immune issue at play.” – Pippa 

For more information visit PippaCampbellHealth.com & Go-Nourish.com. You can also book an Advanced Thyroid Panel with Medichecks, which has clinics across the UK. For more information or to book an appointment, visit Medichecks.com.

 

DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme

DISCLAIMER: We endeavour to always credit the correct original source of every image we use. If you think a credit may be incorrect, please contact us at info@sheerluxe.com.

Fashion. Beauty. Culture. Life. Home
Delivered to your inbox, daily