I often have clients come to me with this common issue: “I can’t lose weight, and I am frustrated. Could it be an under active thyroid issue?”
I bet you’ve asked yourself the same question…
There is always the hope, rightfully or not, that maybe a magic pill could boost a slow metabolism. And in some cases, it works. I remember a woman from the CogniDiet clinical trial whose frustrated efforts to lose weight led her to check her thyroid gland. She discovered she indeed had an under active thyroid and consequently lost the weight by taking a synthetic thyroid hormone, a standard in treating hypothyroidism, known as Levothyroxine.
If you are in doubt, it is a good idea to have your thyroid checked, just as a matter of good practice as we get older anyhow. (This is actually one of the health checks I suggest in Chapter 11 of The CogniDiet Book).
The thyroid gland, a tiny organ shaped like a butterfly is located at the base of your throat.
The whole hormonal system in your body is a complex cascade of activities. TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone stimulates the thyroid gland to release other hormones that are important for your health and metabolism:
– T4 or thyroxine
– T3 or triiodothyronine which in turns convert to Free T3 (FT3) or Reverse T3 (RT3). It’s the Free T3 that really matters since it’s the only hormone that can attach to a receptor and cause your metabolism to soar.
These thyroid hormones work as a finely tuned and complicated ballet, and help among other things to control the rate at which each cell in your body uses energy. This, in turn, determines your metabolism. This blood test measures the amount of these hormones in your blood at the moment the blood is collected because there can be fluctuations (remember that).
How do I know if my thyroid is under active?
If there is imbalance or decreased production of the hormones described earlier, you are experiencing hypothyroidism. Most common symptoms may be
– Weight gain
– Poor concentration
– Brain fog
– Mood swings
– Dry skin
– Sensitivity to cold
– Chronic fatigue in spite of good sleeping patterns
You may have to also check first if you are not suffering from mononucleosis (it can be tested), iron deficiency, other hormonal issues, or possibly Hashimoto thyroiditis — a condition in which this autoimmune condition causes inflammation and damage to the thyroid gland via the creation of auto antibodies.
How do I know if my thyroid gland is overactive?
On the other side, if there is imbalance or increased production of the hormones described earlier, you may experience hyperthyroidism. Most common symptoms may be:
– Rapid heart rate
– Weight loss
– Hand tremors
– Irritated eyes
– Bad sleep
It is a complicated story. Sometimes a test by your primary care physician may not tell the whole story. The levels of FT3 and RT 3 are not always measured and are as important to determine if there is a problem. It requires an endocrinologist to start an investigator’s job and carefully listen to your symptoms.
There are also variations in interpreting the levels of the different hormones involved.
There can also be issues with the thyroid gland that can be a sign that there are nodules — or worse — on the gland, something a health care practitioner can feel sometimes with palpation.
When it comes to your thyroid, PLEASE don’t self-treat with over the counter remedies or with Dr. Google. You need to be followed by a professional.
What are some nutritional options?
If you feel that maybe your thyroid is under active, there are some nutritional options that can potentially help.
Something that is important for TSH creation is Iodine.
We have become rather poor in eating proper sources of iodine, and this is why I like to add seaweeds such as kelp, dulse, wakame, etc., in my soups or salads. Other good sources of iodine are eggs, dairy and ocean fish.
Zinc, Selenium, Vitamin D, and B vitamins also have a role.
It’s also important to deal with your stress and support your adrenal glands; they go hand in hand with your thyroid.
I’m here for any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and schedule a time so we can discuss your nutrition and health needs.
Veronique Cardon, MS
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