Symptoms of a Sluggish Thyroid
There are many conditions that show a poor thyroid function. It is widely known that your thyroid gland plays a key role in controlling your metabolism and body weight. But did you know that depression, heart disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, menopausal symptoms, muscle and joint pains, irritable bowel syndrome, or autoimmune disease could actually indicate a problem with your thyroid?
The classic signs of a sluggish thyroid gland include weight gain, lethargy, brittle hair and nails, hair loss, dry skin, fatigue, cold hands and feet, and constipation. Now these symptoms are well known. However, some other conditions that you may not associate with a poor working thyroid gland are:
- High cholesterol
- Irregular menstruation
- Low libido
- Gum disease
- Fluid retention
- Acne or Exzemia
- Memory loss
- Poor stamina
There are many more conditions that can be associated with a poor thyroid function. Your thyroid plays a significant role in many of your physiological processes. When your thyroid is out of balance, so are your body functions. This is why it is so important to know how your thyroid gland works, and what you can do to get it back to working properly.
Understanding How Your Thyroid Works
Your Thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck, and it is a part of your endocrine, or hormonal system. It produces the master metabolism hormones that control every function of your body. Thyroid hormones interact with all your other hormones including insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.
The fact that these hormones are all tied together with constant communications to keep your body in good form is the reason why a malfunctioning Thyroid gland is associated with so many various symptoms and diseases.
Of the three known important hormones that this gland produces are T4, T3, and T2. The least known of these three is T2, which is still under medical studies. But of the other two hormones, T4 and T3, about 90% of the produced hormone is T4, the inactive form. Your Liver then converts this T4 into T3.
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Now these thyroid hormones work in a kind of feedback loop to the brain, specifically your pituitary and hypothalamus, in regulating the release of the hormones to your body. Your pituitary gland produces TRH (Thyroid Releasing Hormone), and your hypothalamus gland produces TSH hormone. When all of these glands are working properly, your body makes just enough of the hormones that your body needs of the T3 and T4.
Simply put, those two hormones – T3 and T4 – are what regulate metabolism of every cell in your body. But their delicate balance can be disrupted by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections and stress.
Just as in supply and demand, if your T3 is insufficient, either by not enough produced or by problems in converting properly from T4, your whole system suffers.
The T3 hormone is critically important because it tells the nucleus of every cell in your body to send messages to your DNA to “crank up” your metabolism by burning fat that is stored for future energy. That is why T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair, and helps keep you lean.
Keeping Your Thyroid Healthy in a Toxic World
Now that you understand the very basic purpose of your thyroid gland and how it works, lets look at some of the factors that can readily cause problems with your thyroid gland.
Your lifestyle dictates more in how well your thyroid works. Let us examine some of the pros and cons of your diet so that we can pin-point some troublesome areas that you may find you need to correct to insure a good -working thyroid.
Eliminate junk food, processed food, artificial sweeteners, trans fats and anything with chemical ingredients. It is best to eat whole, unprocessed foods, and choose as many organic foods as possible.
Gluten Food Sensitivity
Gluten and food sensitivities are some of the most common thyroid dysfunction because mainly they produce inflammation. Gluten causes autoimmune responses in many people and can be responsible for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, a common autoimmune thyroid condition.
Gluten can cause your gastrointestinal system to malfunction, which causes foods that you eat to not get completely digested. These food particles can then be absorbed into your bloodstream where your body misidentifies them as antigens. These food particles get misidentified as foreign particles in which the body produces antibodies against them.
To make this matter even worse, these particles of undigested food are very similar to the molecules that are in your thyroid gland. Your body will start accidentally attacking the thyroid gland – which is known as autoimmune reaction.
By measuring your IgG and IgA antibodies, this test will find if you have gluten or other food sensitivities.
Soy is another “bad” food for your thyroid. Soy is not the health food the agricultural and food companies would have you believe. Soy is high in isoflavones (or goitrogens), which damage your thyroid. Thousands of studies now link soy foods to malnutrition, digestive stress, immune system weakness, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders, infertility and a host of other problems. In my other post, are-your-foods-really-that-safe/, I explained why you can’t take the word of food and agricultural companies as truth about what they are doing to the foods that we consume.
Properly fermented organic soy products such as natto, miso, and tempeh are fine — it’s the unfermented soy products that you should stay away from.
Coconut oil is one of the best foods that you can possibly eat for your thyroid. Coconut oil gives your metabolism and your ability to lose weight a boost because it is a saturated fat comprised of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). It is in the oxidation of foods that create free radicals, which cause havoc to your body. That is why some poly-unsaturated fats are not good for you because of the oxidation when it is digested. Coconut oil also has a very stable shelf life, up to 5 years at room temperature, which is the other reason your body is much less burdened with oxidation stress.
To give you an explanation on how vital iodine is to your thyroid, let me give you a thyroid biochemistry lesson. Remember earlier I said the two main thyroid hormones were T4 and T3? The names of the different forms of thyroid hormone reflect the number of iodine molecules attached — T4 has four attached iodine molecules, and T3 has three. This explains the importance of iodine and how it is used by the thyroid. Most Americans do not get enough iodine in their diet. No matter how healthy their thyroid gland is, there won’t be enough iodine molecules to make enough hormones to keep your body from building up toxins. This obviously reduces your metabolism and stresses the body into storing fat.
Chlorine, fluorine and bromine are also perpetrators in the thyroid function. Since they are halides like iodine, they compete for your iodine receptors. Chlorine is in our drinking water, as with Fluoride. Bromine is present in many places in your everyday world — plastics, pesticides, hot tub treatments, fire retardants, some flours and bakery goods, and even some soft drinks. Fluoride is particularly damaging to your thyroid gland. You can filter this out with the right kind of water purifiers, which I highly recommend.
How Stress Affects Your Thyroid
Stress is one of the leading culprits to your thyroid. Your thyroid function is intimately tied to your adrenal function, which is intimately affected by how you handle stress. Under severe stress, increased levels of adrenalin and cortisol prevent your thyroid from producing adequate amounts of hormones. This can contribute to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, unstable blood sugar During chronic stress your body actually needs more thyroid hormones.
Environmental toxins place additional stress on your body. Toxins like pesticides, petrochemicals, and chemical food additives negatively affect thyroid function.
Exercise, is one of the best destressors that you can do to benefit your thyroid. Exercise stimulates your thyroid gland to secrete more thyroid hormone. Exercise also increases the sensitivity of all your tissues to thyroid hormone. It has been interpreted that many of the health benefits of exercise stem directly from improved thyroid function.
Something as simple as a 30-minute walk is enough to stimulate your thyroid by reducing stress. If you add a little strength building to this exercise routine, you will increase your metabolic rate, which in turn will reduce weight gain.
How To Combat a Sluggish Thyroid
Here are just a few suggestions that will help your thyroid to becoming a better performing organ for you and your body. They will help support your thyroid, which will aid your body into detoxification of unnatural chemicals within your body.
- Try to eat as many sea vegetables that you can, because they are rich in minerals and iodine (hijiki, wakame, arame, dulse, nori, and kombu). This is one of the most ideal form of iodine supplementation as it is also loaded with many other beneficial nutrients.
- Eat a lot of Brazil nuts, because they are rich in selenium, which is very beneficial to the thyroid.
- Getting enough vitamin D from sunlight will also be very beneficial. If that is not possible, take Vitamin D3 supplements.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin A, such as carrots, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and sweet potatoes. Of these foods, the more of them that are grown organically, the better.
- Eat plenty of foods that are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
- Use pure, organic coconut oil in your cooking.
- Filter your drinking water.
- Taking chlorella is another super detoxification aid.
- Avoid stress as much as possible. When not avoidable, alternate methods of relieving stress are relaxation, meditation, hot soaks, and the most important stress reliever – exercise!
In order to correct a sluggish thyroid, you must first address the underlying issues involved with its sluggishness. Every one of us are unique individuals and treatments will vary between each of us. It is important to note that the path to wellness will have its ups and downs, turns and curves. But persistence will inevitably conquer the bad and your health will undoubtedly be much better. Never give up the good fight!
I want to share my experience with you about what turned out to be a sluggish thyroid problem that I had been experiencing. Back a few years ago I got this itchy rash on my lower leg. It started out as only a very small area, resembling a bug bite. It itched and drove me crazy. The more I scratched it, the more it itched. Pretty soon, it began to expand to more and more areas of my leg. It had a reddish look to it.
I finally went in to see a dermatologist about my condition. The doctor said it was pooling of the blood in the lower extremities of my leg. The doctor said it was Exzemia. He prescribed some very expensive ointment, Psorcon E, for me to rub on my leg, two to three times a day. It worked! It totally cleared up my itchy rash! However, it was extremely expensive.
What I did next was what I should have done in the beginning. About two years later, the same problem began to show signs of coming back. I went to Botanic Choice and bought some of their Thyroid pills. I started taking them. My problem went away and for the last ten years, has never returned! I highly recommend Botanic Choice to people who may have similar conditions that I have had and don’t won’t to be taking pharmaceutical prescription medicine for the rest of their lives. I am a firm believer in alternative medicine because most of the pharmaceutical medicine available have too many side effects. I don’t want to treat one symptom, but create a totally new one because of the medicine prescribed.
Now beware that I am not a doctor. I can only give you insight of information, and what I have experienced first hand. What worked for me may not work for you. Test, modify if necessary, test again, until you get the solution you seek.