Thyroid Health

Thyroid dysfunction is something that I commonly see in clinic.

However many people don’t really know what their thyroid does and it’s role in the body. So we are going back to basics with the thyroid gland!

Thyroid Basics:

Your thyroid gland is located in your throat just below your larynx (voice box) and is butterfly shaped so each lobe sits on either side of your trachea.

Your thyroid gland is made of thyroid follicles (sacs). The cells that line each sac produce 2 hormones:

- T4 - otherwise known as tetraiodothyronine or thyroxine

- T3 - otherwise known as triiodothyronine

T3 and T4 are known as your thyroid hormones.

Calcitonin another hormone is also produced from cells of the thyroid gland and this regulates your calcium levels.

Action of Thyroid Hormones:

Our thyroid is a gland that releases thyroid hormones and these hormones have the following actions:

- increase our basal metabolic rate

- increase body temperature

- stimulate protein synthesis

- increase the use of glucose and fatty acids for energy production

- stimulate lipolysis, the breakdown of fats

- regulate development and growth of nervous tissue and bones

- enhance cholesterol excretion

How do I know if I have thyroid problems?

A thyroid can be dysregulated in 2 ways. It can be hyperactive (meaning abnormally or extremely active) or hypoactive (meaning inhibited action or slow).

Both of these dysregulations can have very different symptom pictures.

Hypoactive thyroid symptoms:

- fatigue, lethargy and weakness

- fluid retention, weight gain and difficulty losing weight

- puffy and pale face

- increased sensitivity to cold and low body temperature

- depression

- poor attention span

- headaches or migraines

- dry, flaky skin

- slow healing wounds

- hair loss

- lowered resistance to infection

- food sensitivities

- menstrual changes

- impaired fertility

- miscarriages

- low libido

- breathlessness

- joint and muscle pain

- constipation

- decreased sweating

- slowed heart rate

- high cholesterol

- enlarged thyroid (goitre)

Hyperactive thyroid symptoms:

- Heart palpitations

- fatigue and muscle weakness

- tremors

- anxiety

- disturbed sleep

- weight loss

- heat intolerance and increased body temperature

- sweating and hot flushes

- excessive thirst and hunger

- diarrhoea

- goitre (enlarged thyroid)

- ophthalmopathy (prominent eyes)

- itching skin lesions

- menstrual disturbances

In future posts we will discuss causes and risk factors for each dysfunction and how to optimise your thyroid function.

If you believe to be suffering from any of these symptoms, please see a health practitioner to get your thyroid hormones checked and monitored.

In the meantime, nutrients that you can include in your diet to support your thyroid gland:

- Selenium - necessary for thyroid hormone synthesis and is also an antioxidant defence for your thyroid. Selenium rich foods include: Brazil nuts sourced from Brazil, cous cous, salmon, chicken, wheat germ and beef.

- Zinc - needed for thyroid hormone synthesis and stabilises thyroid function. Zinc rich foods include: pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, turkey, cashews, lentils.

- Tyrosine - assists in production of hormones and stabilisation of thyroid function. Tyrosine rich foods include: wheat germ, tofu, animal meat, avocado, fish, pumpkin seeds.

If you want to know more, click on the Book Now button above to have a chat with a naturopath.

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