Another epidemic is sweeping across the world. According to experts, there are as many as 30 million people suffering from a form of thyroid disorder in the United States alone – and half of them are undiagnosed. That is a staggering 12% of the nation’s total population.
Strangely, there is little concrete information about this problem worldwide since many patients and their doctors mistake the common symptoms for something else.
One serious cause of thyroid dysfunction is iodine deficiency. We get very little of it in our modern diet but iodine is a nutrient obtainable from food. It may seem overly simplistic to use food for thyroid health but it works and could be the answer in your particular case to getting this important gland functioning normally again.
10 Symptoms of Thyroid Malfunction
- Fatigue: Persistent exhaustion no matter how much sleep you get.
- Poor Sleep Quality: Being unable to sleep or wanting to sleep all the time.
- Mood Swings: Feelings of sadness or anxiety.
- Appetite Changes: Changes to food preferences or altered taste.
- Brain Fog: Inability to concentrate or difficulty with simple cognition.
- Bowel Irregularity: Bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Temperature Sensitivity: You persistently feel too hot or too cold.
- Chronic Pain: Aches in joints or muscles for no particular reason.
- Reproductive Issues: Infertility, miscarriages, or premature births.
- Menstrual Changes: An increase or decrease in cramps, flow, or length of periods.
What Does Your Thyroid Do for You?
The thyroid hormones thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3) produced by your thyroid gland – a butterfly shaped gland in your lower throat – are responsible for managing your metabolism, body temperature, and blood pressure. Though this part of the endocrine system is small, it is mighty. It literally effects all of you because every cell and organ in your body use thyroid hormones.
Hyperthyroidism (less common) is the term used when your thyroid produces too much hormones. It is also referred to as an overactive thyroid. This condition can result in unexplained weight loss, feeling jittery or anxious, inability to relax, lack of focus, rapid heart rate, fatigue, marked increase to appetite, deterioration of nails, skin, and hair, heart disease, irritability, sleep irregularity, and intolerance to heat.
Hypothyroidism (most common) is the term used when your thyroid produces too little hormones. It is also referred to as an underactive or sluggish thyroid. You may notice no symptoms initially but they tend to worsen as time goes by. Deficiency in these essential hormones lead to feelings of fatigue, depression, obesity, pain in joints, muscle weakness, deterioration of hair, skin, and nails, heart disease, poor memory and focus, and intolerance to cold.
Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune condition. Your immune system malfunctions and sends out antibodies to attack thyroid tissue. Over time, the thyroid is beaten down and unable to function properly. The majority of patients with hypothyroidism test positive for these antibodies. It is important to keep your immune system strong and lower body-wide inflammation to prevent these antibodies from destroying your thyroid.
Your thyroid is stimulated by signals from your brain (hypothalamus) and your pituitary gland tells the thyroid gland to either produce hormones or to hold back. When the signals are blocked or false, it can result in serious repercussions throughout your system.
Common Causes of Thyroid Malfunction
- Iodine or other nutrition deficiency.
- Graves is a genetic autoimmune disease that stimulates thyroid hormone production.
- Plummer’s disease is benign lumps that stimulate thyroid hormone production.
- Pregnancy can trigger thyroid dysfunction.
- Thyroiditis is inflammation that triggers excess thyroid hormone to flood the blood.
- Physical, mental, or emotional stress may affect how your thyroid functions.
- Environmental toxins are thought to play a role in dysfunction of the thyroid.
This condition can affect adults, children, and infants. Newborns tested and treated early respond well and the practice has prevented poor mental development.
There are synthetic hormones available (thyroid drugs are the fourth highest selling in the United States) that can eventually get your thyroid back on track. However, most patients have to have a thyroid that no longer functions for the synthetic replacements to work.
Preventing the destruction of your thyroid in the first place is a far better solution.
5 Best Foods for Thyroid Health
- Seaweed and seafood (scallops, shrimp, sardines, salmon, and tuna)
- Yogurt, eggs, and cheese
- Coconut oil
- Cranberries and cranberry juice
- Baked potatoes (with skin)
5 Worst Foods for Thyroid Health
- Soy products
- Refined gluten grains
- Sodas, alcohol, or excessive coffee
- Hydrogenated oils (avoid processed or fast foods)
- Refined sugar
Currently, there is no cure for autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s that cause extensive damage to the thyroid and result in conditions such as hypothyroidism. As with most autoimmune conditions, it is crucial to pay close attention to diet and lifestyle habits. It may not reverse thyroid damage completely but it will slow the advance and ease symptoms.
Good choices for your thyroid benefits your entire body. All of your systems are connected and they depend on each other to function properly. Choosing the right foods for thyroid health are also good choices for your heart, brain, and gut. All of you will feel the difference.