You've heard a lot about thyroid glands! They're important to keep you energetic and healthy.
You may have also heard that if you're struggling with body weight, your thyroids could be a reason too.
Here is a quick overview of this gland and how it functions. This can help you plan your weight loss efforts better.
What is a thyroid gland and what does it do?
It's a butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck. You can feel it as a small bump in the base of your neck.
To feel this gland place the index and middle finger of both your hands an inch apart. Be sure to keep them about half way between your chin and collarbone to feel your thyroids.
It will move up and down again when you drink a glass of water or swallow.
This is how your thyroid works for you.
An overview of how your thyroid works helps you understand how it influences weight loss.
Your thyroid is like a thermostat, it:
- regulates your body temperature
- determines how fast or slow your metabolism is
- regulates the rate at which your body uses up energy (calories you burn)
- helps manufacture protein and other hormones
Two key hormones produced by thyroids are T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).
They travel via the bloodstream to the cells and reach all through the body. Their job is to convert oxygen and calories into energy.
The energy produced becomes the fuel for digestion, thinking, mood regulation, and cognitive skills.
They also influence the production of sex hormones like testosterone and are key for fertility.
It's clear that the thyroid gland controls many aspects of your body function.
- ability to reproduce
- digestive system
ALL depend on thyroid health.
In certain conditions, the thyroid glands may not pump enough hormones or make too much.
Both scenarios present a problem regulating your appetite, mood, digestion and energy levels.
These problems with your thyroid can happen due to poor intake of nutrients, excess toxins in the body or due to hereditary reasons.
One important aspect of thyroid issue is body weight. Overproduction and under production result in weight issues.
- Overproduction of thyroid hormones leads to unexplained weight loss.
- Underproduction leads to weight gain.
Issues that can affect your thyroid glands:
- Running too fast (hyperthyroid, Grave’s disease)
- Running too slow (hypothyroid, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)
- Thyroid nodules (small lumps or growths on the thyroid)
- Cancer of thyroid glands
Causes of Hyperthyroidism
In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid glands are too active and produce too much of thyroxine. Many conditions, including Graves' disease and thyroiditis, can cause hyperthyroidism
Symptoms to look for in hyperthyroidism
Sudden weight loss ? increased appetite ? sweating nervousness ?
anxiety ? fine, brittle hair ? changes in bowel movements ? sleep issues
Causes of Hypothyroidism
In hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroxine, a thyroid hormone. When thyroxine levels are low, body's functions also slow down.
Hypothyroidism can occur if the thyroid gland fails to do its regular work. It can also happen if the thyroid gland is not stimulated by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland.
Symptoms to look for in hypothyroidism
Fatigue ? intolerance to cold ? joint and muscle pain ? dry skin ? thinning hair ? depression ? poor memory ? weight gain ? protruding eyes ? rapid pulse
Causes of Thyroid Nodules
Thyroid nodules do not present symptoms and are not serious. A thyroid nodule is a soft lump, filled with fluid.
You'll know you have a nodule only from a routine check from your doctor. In rare cases, thyroid nodules present as cancers.
Symptoms of thyroid nodules
Hard to swallow or breathe ? shortness of breath ? excessive sweating ? irregular heartbeat
Causes of Thyroid Cancer
The exact cause of thyroid cancer is not known. Risk factors include inherited factors, age, gender, diet and lifestyle.
Thyroid cancer is three times more common in women than in men for unclear reasons.Tweet
The risk peaks in women after the age of forty and in men between the age of sixty to seventy.
Symptoms of thyroid cancer
Lumps or Swelling in the neck ? pain ? hoarseness of voice ? trouble breathing or swallowing ? constant cough not caused by a cold
Tests for Determining Thyroid Problems
If you're experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor about your thyroid. The following blood tests can help determine an underlying thyroid problem:
- Free T3
- Free T4
- Anti-TPO and
Some may need a thyroid scan or ultrasound to help determine the type of thyroid problem.
How Thyroid Issues Affect Your Weight Loss?
Symptoms like weight gain, brain fog and sluggishness are common in hypothyroidism.
In hypothyroidism, there is a clear drop in the body's basal metabolic rate (BMR).
A low basal metabolic rate means you won't be able to burn as many calories for fuel.
Because of this, your body saves the unused calories in the form of fat resulting in weight gain. The more severe the hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) the greater the gain in weight.
In some, hyperthyroidism mimics the symptoms of hypothyroidism, which can lead to weight gain. But, this kind of scenario is less common and diagnosis can be hard.
More women suffer from under active thyroids than men. Since the body's basal metabolic rate drops, weight gain occurs despite efforts to lose.
Among women thyroid problems do not surface until they show signs of hormonal imbalance. This is why you'll notice thyroid issues and menopause go together.
Weight gain in under active thyroid is not always due to fat accumulation.
Researchers affirm that weight gain in under active thyroid is not always due to fat.
In some people, it occurs due to excess salt and water retention. The American Thyroid Association states about five to ten pounds of body weight is due to thyroid. This depends on the severity of the under active thyroid issue.
If weight gain is the only symptom of an underactive thyroid, it is less likely that it is due to a thyroid issue.
Weight gain due to a thyroid malfunction usually presents with other problems too.
Keep in mind weight gain is one of the symptoms and is not a sole cause for thyroid issues. If you have trouble losing weight a holistic approach is the best way. Yet, weight loss efforts that do not address a related thyroid issue can fail.
A holistic natural approach that encourages and nurtures thyroid health should be your plan. Be sure to make exercise, and eating clean an integral part of your weight loss efforts.
5 Natural Ways to Boost Thyroid Function
1. Address nutritional deficiencies
Selenium: Selenium is an important trace mineral that helps your thyroid to function well.
A diet that is poor in selenium can be a trigger factor for thyroid related issues. Selenium balances the secretion of T4 levels in your body. This is crucial to keep your thyroid working well.
Eat foods high in selenium like Brazil nuts, grass fed beef, egg, spinach, and yellowfin tuna.
A deficiency of B vitamins, Vitamin B 12 and Thiamine can affect the way your thyroid works.
B vitamins have a role in energy release from food. Vitamin B 12 is also crucial for hormonal balance. Eat enough of these nutrients to improve your thyroid health.
Good sources of B 12 include raw milk, raw cheese, cottage cheese, wild caught salmon and grass fed beef. Thiamine is abundant in Crimini mushrooms, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pistachios, and ground flaxseed.
Probiotics: Probiotics are foods that contain good bacteria that support your gut health.
These fermented foods lower inflammation in the body and heal leaky gut.
Make Kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, raw cheese, Kombucha, Kefir as part of your menu.
Lowering inflammation protects your thyroid and prevents further damage.
2. Detox on a regular basis:
Thyroid issues occur due to deficiencies of certain nutrients. Nutrient deficiencies can result due to poor intake and also due to toxins.
Environmental toxins like heavy metals can influence nutritional deficiencies.
Here are a few examples:
- Chlorine, fluorine, perchlorate, bromine that are common in toothpaste, tap water and cleaning agents. These toxins can interfere with iodine uptake.
- Bromine is another toxin that can displace iodine and inhibit thyroid activity.
- Soy and its products impair the conversion of T4 to T3, which impacts thyroid activity.
- Heavy metals from amalgam fillings can affect your thyroids and disrupt hormones.
If you have amalgam fillings get rid of them by visiting a holistic dentist and seek safe alternatives.
Follow a regular detox regimen a few times a year to cleanse your body of toxins.
Help your body to remove toxins by:
drinking enough water
eating alkalizing foods
sweat often (exercise and steam baths are great)
choose organic produce whenever possible
avoid chemical laden body care products
Here are the all natural and gentle detox recipes I personally use 3 to 4 times a year.
3. Take herbs
Including Adaptogenic herbs support your thyroid.
Ashwagandha: It helps balance your hormone levels and is the first choice in Ayurveda.
The herb is useful for under active and over active thyroid issues. Ashwagandha is also an immune strengthening herb.
It also helps with anxiety, stress and insomnia. Take this herb to stimulate a sluggish metabolism and for weight loss benefits.
Tulsi: Tulsi or Holy Basil is also an adaptogenic herb like ashwagandha. Other herbs that help include licorice root, rhodiola and ginseng.
Black walnut hull: It's a natural remedy for treating goiter and hypothyroidism. The herb is rich in iodine and is a natural detoxifying agent.
It also helps with candida, bloating and leaky-gut. These symptoms are common in people with thyroid issues.
4. Lifestyle changes
Lower stress: Stress can over exert your endocrine glands which include your thyroid. Staying in a constant ”fight-flight” mode increases the levels of adrenaline and cortisol. This, in turn, creates negative effects in the body such as –
- narrowing of blood vessels
- release of inflammatory proteins
- release antibodies that suppress immune system
- damage both adrenal and thyroid glands
Lower stress by dedicating time for exercise, meditation and deep breathing techniques.
Get enough sleep, improve your sun exposure to reset your circadian rhythm.
Go to bed at a regular time every day to improve sleep habits.
5. Practice yoga
Certain yoga poses help stimulate the function of thyroid glands. The following yoga poses are helpful for anyone with thyroid issues.
Shoulder stand pose: This is the most important pose to stimulate thyroid gland. The pose helps blood flow from legs to head due to the inverted condition and helps control thyroxin.
Surya Namaskar: The various Sun salutations help to lower thyroid symptoms and rejuvenates you.
Bridge Pose: Called Sethubandh asana, this is an important pose for thyroids. If you succeed in forming a good bridge pose, your neck gets ample stretch. This is good for stimulating thyroid glands and regulating hormone production.
Headstand pose: Sirshasana or head stand pose is one of the best to manage thyroid gland. Sirshasana acts on the thyroid glands, helps to balance the metabolic functions. It improves alertness, without causing nervousness.
Dhanurasana (The Bow pose): The bow pose helps massage the thyroids. It regulates the gland to produce the right amount of hormone.
Bhujangasana (The cobra poses): The pose causes compression and stretching in the neck. This helps in regulating thyroid glands.
Learn the correct yoga techniques from a certified instructor to reap its benefits. Consult your doctor before you begin a new exercise regime.
Thyroid Health in a Nut Shell
- Your thyroid is important for many vital roles from burning calories to improving libido.
- Hypo and hyperthyroidism are the two most common thyroid issues.
- Symptoms of thyroid issues can overlap with other conditions. Always work with your health care practitioner for correct diagnosis. A careful diagnosis is important to begin the right treatment protocol.
- Improve your diet. Eat to correct nutritional deficiencies that can lead to thyroid issues. If you have inflammatory problems like leaky gut address them right away. This can help prevent and reduce inflammatory damage to thyroid glands.
- Make healthy lifestyle changes, practice exercise or yoga.
- Avoid exposure to unwanted chemicals. Keep away from amalgam fillings, chlorine and fluorine and common household cleaning agents.
Yours in health and happiness,
P.S. Please share this important article with your loved ones and I always love to hear from you in the comments below! Do you suspect or know you have a thyroid disorder?