The thyroid is a small gland that plays a very big role in almost every function of your body. Most people don’t realize the depth and breadth of influence it has, but your thyroid is more important than you think. It produces hormones that regulate your metabolism, heart rate, digestion, muscle and bone development, and brain function. Every cell in your body needs thyroid hormones to work correctly. January is National Thyroid Month, and the team here at Naturally. . . You think it’s the perfect time to shed some light on what the thyroid gland is and why it’s so important to all of us. So, if you want to learn more about how to keep your thyroid healthy, keep reading.
What it Is and What it Does
The thyroid is a butterfly or bow tie-shaped endocrine gland that sits low on the front of the neck, between the larynx and the trachea. It consists of two connected lobes joined by a small bridge of thyroid tissue called the isthmus. It is responsible for producing two main hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). It’s these hormones that regulate your body’s temperature, metabolism, and heart rate.
According to the American Thyroid Association, 20 million Americans, around 12 percent, have some form of thyroid disease. Those most at risk are people over the age of 60 (although it can strike at any age), have a family history of thyroid disease, have an autoimmune disease like type 1 diabetes or celiac disease. Check for a lump in your throat, and listen for changes in your voice. Both are signs of thyroid issues. There are two types of thyroid disease, hypo and hyper, and a simple blood test can determine if a person has either. Both are treatable and affect women more often than men.
If your body doesn’t produce enough of the T3 and T4 hormones, you have hypothyroidism. Symptoms include weight gain, constipation, dry skin and hair, cold sensitivity, and fatigue. Think of it like pressing on a car’s gas pedal, but the car doesn’t move. According to Healthline, 90% of primary hypothyroidism cases are caused by Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disorder where your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. According to the Mayo Clinic, if left untreated Hashimoto’s disease can lead to an enlarged heart, heart failure, and mental issues like depression that worsen over time. While there is no cure for hypothyroidism, prescription medications are available to regulate it.
If your body produces too much hormone, you have hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include weight loss, sweating a lot, goiter, fast heartbeat, and feeling nervous or moody. This time, think of it as pressing on the brake of a car, but the car doesn’t stop. Graves Disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones. One symptom is bulging eyes. According to womenshealth.gov, without treatment, Grave’s Disease can lead to irregular heartbeat, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, bone loss, osteoporosis, and problems during pregnancy for both mother and her unborn child. As with Hashimoto’s disease, Grave’s disease can be treated with prescription medications.
Watch Your Diet
While the foods you eat won’t necessarily cause thyroid diseases, making the right food choices can help your treatment if you suffer from one. Here is a chart of foods to eat and foods to avoid based on the thyroid disease you have.
|Thyroid Condition||Eat these often||Avoid these|
|Hypothyroidism||Iodine-rich seafood, eggs, dairy foods, and foods rich in selenium like Brazil Nuts and Oatmeal.||Cruciferous vegetables, foods that contain soy, and processed foods.|
|Hyperthyroidism||Cruciferous Vegetables, Brazil Nuts, Foods rich in Vitamin D, Calcium, and Iron, Turmeric||Foods rich in iodine like seafood, eggs, and dairy. Foods containing soy. Coffee, chocolate, and soda.|
Don’t Go Nuts!
If you suffer from either thyroid disease, eating nuts may cause discomfort. Some people with autoimmune disorders experience gut sensitivity to nuts. This often happens when eating almonds, cashews, macadamias, and walnuts. To test your nut sensitivity, eliminate all nuts from your diet for about eight weeks. Then reintroduce them, one at a time, in four-week intervals. You will see if you have any adverse reaction to any specific nuts.
A Natural Thyroid Support Supplement
Your thyroid is more important than you think, so be sure to get your thyroid examined during your annual physical. Make sure to have your TSH levels checked during routine blood work, and act quickly if results indicate a problem. In both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, you will need to seek help from a healthcare provider for the best treatment.
With any medical issue, Naturally. . . You recommends being your own health advocate. Research your condition using various respected sources and discuss your findings with your doctor. Implement practices like adjusting your diet or exercise programs to give your body what it needs to cure itself. If prescription medication is part of the treatment, follow your doctor’s dosage and frequency recommendations. Naturally. . . You offers a thyroid-support supplement. Contact us through our website for more information. There you can start a live chat and read about the Six Keys to Optimal Health. Let’s refocus on our health this year, and we are here to help.