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An in-depth functional approach to recovering from the effects of thyroid dysfunction.
To understand things better, we need to start from the basics. The thyroid is one of the most important glands in the human body. It is in a butterfly-like shape and is found in the mid of your throat. The thyroid is one of the largest hormone-producing glands in the entire body. It is responsible for a lot of functions; from metabolism to your body’s energy and temperature, your thyroid does a lot. Optimal thyroid health is vital and considered rather crucial for multiple organs in your body to function properly.
Did you know more than 20 million Americans suffer from some form of thyroid dysfunction?
Surprisingly, the number of people who are having thyroid disorders these days is enormous. Majority of people have underactive thyroids, which mean that the hormone production is prolonged, which brings in a massive lack of energy all the time. Some people have high thyroid production, but this is rare. Mood swings, never-ending fatigue and huge fluctuation in energy levels show that the thyroid is underactive and is unable to produce all the hormones correctly. But the question is how do you come to realize the fact that your thyroid is not healthy? Let’s dig into the details.
With up to 60% of these people being completely unaware of their condition.
One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder. Although Levothyroxine, a synthetic form of thyroid hormone, is the fourth highest-selling drug in the US, the number of people suffering from thyroid disorders continues to rise.
Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder and characterized by cognitive decline, depression, weight gain, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, irregular menstruation, infertility and joint pain.
These hormones are responsible for the most basic aspects of our body's function and impact every single major system of the body including our brain, GI tract, cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, red blood cell function. gallbladder, liver, glucose metabolism and body temperature.
Hyperthyroidism is another thyroid disorder with a different set of symptoms such as heart palpitations, rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, weight loss, diarrhea, anxiety, excessive body heat, increased appetite and insomnia.
The two major causes of thyroid disorders are nutrient deficiencies and autoimmune disease.
The most common nutrient deficiencies include iodine, zinc and selenium. The most common autoimmune condition is Hashimoto's disease.
Here's the thing to understand: if autoimmunity is present, balancing the immune system or determining why the body is in “attack mode” should be the priority when it comes understanding the root cause of the problem.
Simply substituting thyroid hormone is not the best approach to correcting imbalances.
Furthermore, emerging research indicates that the gut microbiome plays a central role in the regulation of both stress and sex hormones within the body.
Thus, hormone imbalances and related conditions such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, breast cancer, prostate cancer, amenorrhea, estrogen dominance and low testosterone may all be related to an unhealthy digestive tract.
The most important thing to understand with hormone imbalance are the two models of diagnosis and treatment.
The conventional model is known as the “replacement” model of care. The replacement model is basically measuring what's low and replacing it. In this manner, if you have low estrogen or progesterone, you will be given a prescription to increase these hormones.
The functional model is very different. A functional medicine approach to balancing hormones would be concerned with determining the underlying cause or source of the problem and addressing it at that level.
Another important thing to consider is that replacing hormones may be something that needs to be done, but is rarely the only thing that needs to be done.
In other words, within the Functional Medicine model, you might find that a certain hormone needs to be supplemented, and so it becomes part of the treatment plan. However, not everyone requires hormone replacement, especially if they have not investigated the underlying causes.
IS YOUR THYROID HEALTHY?
The best way to know whether your thyroid is healthy or not is to do a self-check; you need to go and see a doctor, but before that, you need to feel whether you are having a thyroid issue or not. Most of the times, people don’t understand the issue and ask the doctor that they might have a problem. Therefore, before you head out, you can give yourself a self-check. There are basically two types of situations (underactive and overactive thyroid), which let you know whether you have a thyroid issue or not. We will now be discussing both the conditions so that you can gain clarity.
1. UNDERACTIVE THYROID
There are some prevalent symptoms of an underactive thyroid situation. If you sleep on time and you get up after an 8 or 10-hour sleep and still feel tired, you need to understand that there is something wrong with your body. 8-10 hour sleep is the perfect amount of sleeping time, and it usually gears up the person for the entire day. You might feel like you are dragging through the day and topping it all off, your muscles might ache too. And even though you are in no mood to hustle, you decide to go out, run a few miles and work. However, your weight loss efforts are also going to the bin, and the weight machine scale is not moving even half an inch down, but you are trying hard! You are unable to fit in your clothes, and your body temperature is usually weird. You might feel cold when it really isn’t and even when you are trying hard, your days seem to be getting worse, instead of gearing up. Sadness may seem to surround you, and your mind is pretty fogged. You are losing your concentration, and your productivity is going down the aisle with every passing day. The bathroom is your enemy because constipation seems to be making its way into your life; what else can be worse? And when you think the hectic and fatigue filled day is over, your neck starts to cause trouble and you have a husky voice, and snoring has also made its way into your life.
Does this all sound like the story of your life?
Is it too relatable?
Is this situation just like the way your day starts and ends?
If yes, then you may want to check for an underactive thyroid, which is medically termed as hypothyroidism. You must see a doctor for it as an underactive thyroid is unable to produce the hormones in the required amount and manner and this will make you feel low all the time. Your metabolism, energy, and productivity can be profoundly affected due to this.
2. OVERACTIVE THYROID
Sleeping may be the real issue for you. You may feel like an insomniac, as sleep just doesn’t happen. Even if does, it never does seem enough, and you feel tired almost all the time. You are not only tired; you are super annoyed or anxious. Anxiety gets the better of you throughout the day. You have super fantastic mood swings. It is like you feel happy one minute and the other minute you are going crazily angry on apparently nothing and the very next moment, you are crying your eyes out. Your clothes start to get loose, and as you step up on the scale, you have lost a considerable amount of weight yet again, and you don't have an idea about why that is happening. Even your hair loss is on the radar, and it seems to get thinner with every passing day.
As the day passes by, you feel that your heartbeat is going up and down and it is either in an irregular beating pattern or will be too fast for you to breathe correctly. Likewise, your fingers or maybe hands shake without any good reason, and you wonder what is up with them. Your sensitivity towards heat is getting out of your hands, and you find your skin reacting to heat or your body is not just accepting it.
Is it relatable to you? Do you feel all of these symptoms during the day or too often? If yes, then you would feel super annoyed, as these feelings are tough to fight through. This means that you have an overactive thyroid, which is medically termed as hyperthyroidism.
HOW TO GET YOUR THYROID IN SHAPE
As the thyroid is responsible for several functions in your body and is one of the largest hormone-producing glands, you need to make sure that it stays healthy. One of the best ways to keep your thyroid in shape is to keep your eating habits right. It is not about eating the foods that are good for your thyroid only. You must add such foods in your diet which boost your thyroid function and make it run healthy and adequately. However, before you do that, you need to know which type of thyroid situation you are experiencing. Self-check is going to help you determine your issue to a large extent, but you need a proper confirmation from the doctor too.
If you have hypothyroidism, you need to follow a diet that will help bring your thyroid into producing hormones accurately. Likewise, if you have hypothyroidism, you need to eat foods that can bring it back into equilibrium. Talk to your doctor about these issues.
There are different diseases which can start from under or overactive thyroid and grow large. Thus, it is considered essential that a proper test is held to determine your hormonal behavior and how your thyroid is functioning.
Two factors play a huge role in defining this:
• Great nutritional factor and proper healthy eating habits
• A good functional or holistic care to help
Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism both are crucial issues and need to be addressed on time. It is better to look deeper into them rather than avoiding it. If your body is showing the symptoms that have been stated above, it is best to look for a good doctor. The key element that can help you recover your thyroid is a healthy diet, restoring your gut health, and getting the key tests, you need to check on the health of your thyroid.
Once you have the right doctor or functional medicine practitioner. Remember that this is a time taking process. Hormonal balance is not attained overnight, even through medication.
It will take time to come back into equilibrium, and you need to make sure that you follow the guidelines of your doctor to make the best for yourself.
A full thyroid panel to be completed includes:
• Free T3
• Free T4
• Reverse T3
• TPO antibodies
• TG antibodies
THYROID BOOSTING FOODS
Since the thyroid is such a key player in the role of our hormonal balance, we’ve got to show it some love by taking in the nutrients that support it. By eliminating gluten and soy, adding in bone broth, good-quality fat, and animal protein, you have already done a great service to your thyroid.
Below are five key nutrients and foods that support the thyroid:
Iodine: Foods rich in iodine (not including iodized salt) help the thyroid make the hormones that regulate metabolism and therefore help with energy and weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. Iodine-rich foods include:
Selenium: a deficiency in selenium is a major underlying factor in thyroid disorders because selenium maintains the production of various thyroid hormones. So, we have nutrients such as iodine that help us make thyroid hormones, and then nutrients that help us sustain and maintain what we are producing. Selenium-rich foods include:
Eggs (pasture-raised only)
Shellfish (wild only – quality wild fish of all kinds can be found at cleanfishchoices.com
Mushrooms (maitake, shitake, cremini)
Brazil nuts (soaked to improve digestibility)
Essential Fatty Acids: these life changing nutrients play a key role in maintaining good cardiovascular health, brain function, and are essential for healthy implantation and fetal development and the prevention of miscarriage. Get your EFAs from:
Coconut Butter and Coconut Oil: coconut oil and coconut butter (made from the meat of coconut once the oil is removed) are raw, saturated fats that contain essential fatty acids that promote thyroid health. The fat in these foods is quickly converted into energy, which helps regulate thyroid function.
Copper and Iron: having enough iron will help your body manufacture thyroid hormones. 15.7 percent of women with low thyroid function are iron deficient. Copper is another important mineral for the thyroid because it helps the hypothalamus (a master glad in your brain) regulate the thyroid more effectively. Foods rich in copper and iron include:
Beans (except kidney beans because they can be difficult to digest)
Organ meats (liver)
When you add vitamin C from foods like citrus, tomatoes, bell peppers, or berries to these foods, you increase iron absorption.
Finally, continuous monitoring and evaluation of thyroid antibodies will help streamline care and inform how your body is responding to care.
Contact us for how we can help you alleviate most of your symptoms and assist you it your thyroid health back to normal.