Burned out, Moody and Gaining Weight? Consider Your Thyroid
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the throat that secretes hormones that regulate how nearly every cell in our body functions. It’s responsible for regulating metabolism, temperature, mood and can significantly impact our energy, brain, periods and digestive function. Thyroid disorders are present in a very large percentage of the population and affect both men and women, with the majority going undiagnosed.
Thyroid issues can go both ways. With Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is under-functioning, slowing things down, including metabolism, sex drive and digestion. Sound familiar? On the other hand, in Hyperthyroidism, we’re running on overdrive. We can lose weight easily, but find ourselves hot, anxious and losing hair, with the potential for developing heart issues.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- High cholesterol
- Weight gain
- Bowel issues, especially constipation
- Brain fog
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
- Poor exercise recovery
- Carpal tunnel
- Hair loss or dry, brittle hair
- Dry, thick, pale or scaling skin
- Difficulty swallowing
- Neck lumps
- Menstrual cramps, heavy bleeding, etc.
- Changes in taste or smell
- Low heart rate
- High cholesterol
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Weight loss
- Hair loss
- Menstrual issues
- Cardiovascular issues
How Do We Develop Thyroid Disorders?
Most thyroid disorders are autoimmune in nature, which occur when the body cannot properly distinguish between self (your own issues) and non-self (everything else). The immune system starts to attack its own tissues, which in this case, targets the thyroid gland. Some contributing factors include:
Surprised?? An inflammatory diet high in sugars, refined oils, processed foods, carbs and chemical additives creates chaos in our digestive system, increases inflammation and overburdens the liver, which is where the thyroid hormone T4 is converted into active T3.
If you have leaky gut, things can progressively run off course, including your immune system, inflammation levels and hormones. It also inhibits your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, including minerals like copper, zinc and selenium needed to make thyroid hormones. Antibiotics, birth control pills and infections are other big contributors to gut imbalances. Healing the gut must be done in order to balance your hormones.
Gluten has a very strong connection to thyroid disease and in addition to affecting the gut, it’s harmful to thyroid health because of something called “molecular mimicry”. Due to the fact that both gluten and the thyroid have a similar genetic make up, the body can mistake gluten proteins for thyroid tissue, causing the immune system to attack the thyroid gland. This can happen even in those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which many people have unknowingly.
Viruses, Bacteria & Toxins
Just like with gluten, the body memorizes the structure of invaders like viruses and bacteria so the immune system can take them out should they enter the body again. The process isn’t fool proof though, and if there are infections in the thyroid, such as Epstein-Barr Virus, it can mistake them for the thyroid itself and damage it. Furthermore, toxins found in food, plastics, personal care products, etc. are also contributors to hormone disruption.
Have You Gotten the Proper Testing?
Chances are, you haven’t.
If you’ve had your thyroid checked and were told everything was normal, but you’re still experiencing symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, there’s a good chance something was missed! The problem with conventional testing is that all the necessary markers to see where things have gone awry are not addressed, and the reference range is often not ideal for optimal thyroid health. See our recommended tests here.
This is an area we often need to revisit with our clients, even if thyroid issues have been ruled out in the past, to fully get to the root cause of their symptoms.
There’s always a path to healing!
Registered Holistic Nutritionist™
The Hormone Cure by Sara Gottfried, MD
The Thyroid Connection by Amy Meyers, MD