Thyroid problems are one of the most common health issues affecting women. If you’re feeling exhausted all day, struggle to concentrate and remember things, have low mood, constipation, or weak hair, your thyroid may be underfunctioning. The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism are often mistaken for other conditions such as stress or menopause, so hormone testing is important.
What does the thyroid gland do?
Think of it as being like the accelerator in a car. When it’s underactive, all your body processes slow down, as if you had taken your foot off the gas. Equally, it can go overactive. An overactive thyroid can cause palpitations, restlessness, difficulty maintaining weight, diarrhoea, and anxiety. All the body processes are speeding up – the accelerator is being pressed too hard!
The symptoms of a sick thyroid can be mixed. Some people experience constipation, tiredness and anxiety, while others have no problem losing weight but feel exhausted and struggle to concentrate. Sometimes the gland can go overactive for a short while before crashing and underfunctioning.
Hashimoto’s & Graves Disease
There are different reasons why the thyroid gland becomes sick; one of these is auto-immunity. During auto-immune conditions the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the body, causing inflammation and damage. If this happens in the thyroid gland it can lead to:
– Hasimoto’s Disease: hypothyroidism (under functioning) caused by auto-immunity
– Graves Disease: hyperthyroidism (over activity) caused by auto-immunity
It’s important to know if your thyroid imbalance is an autoimmune one or not. If it is, you may need to be tested for other auto-immune conditions like Coeliac disease or rheumatoid arthritis. An autoimmune condition is primarily an imbalance with the immune system that happens to be affecting the thyroid – it’s not just a straightforward thyroid issue. A Registered Nutritional Therapist can support you with managing an autoimmune issue. Nutrition and lifestyle medicine can be hugely helpful for these conditions.
What medication is there for hypothyroidism?
The standard medical treatment is Levothyroxine. This is a synthetic version of T4, one of your thyroid hormones. However this is only prescribed if you fall below certain parameters on blood tests. Many people suffer with sub-clinical hypothyroidism where the gland is underfunctioning but not badly enough to be prescribed meds.
Simply taking Levothyroxine is only part of the picture of managing hypothyroidism. Your body converts T4 to T3, the more biologically active thyroid hormone. If this conversion doesn’t work very well, you can still have all the symptoms even though you’re taking medication.
This conversion of T4 to T3 is disrupted by stress, poor diet, and digestive problems.
– Healthy digestion: making sure foods are broken down and digested properly, and bowel movements are regular and comfortable
– Foods to support thyroid function and hormone conversion: Brazil nuts, sea vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, oats, sweet potatoes, avocados, eggs, slow-cooked red meats, naturally gluten-free grains – these are some of the best thyroid supporting foods
– Relaxation & movement: vital for managing stress and supporting T4/T3 conversion
is the most positive way forward for true thyroid balance. Contact a Registered Nutritional Therapist today to find out more!