Essential Hypothyroidism Facts #1
As promised, here are more insights into the thyroid gland, and the specific issue of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). The thyroid gland is one of the most important parts of your body because it maintains your metabolic rate, the rate at which you burn calories.
If it goes under-active it can cause weight gain, even though you may be eating very little, or not at all. You would feel beyond tired - utterly exhausted - and you'd feel cold, though unable to stand hot temperatures either. You may find that you become constipated, anxious, depressed, forgetful, foggy headed, puffy, have dry skin, lose hair from your scalp and, bizarrely, from the outer third of your eyebrows. (My doctor didn't have a clue about this last one!) I'm going to show you here, how you can help yourself. But first, a basic biochemistry lesson.....stay with me, this is important!
Your thyroid gland produces two hormones: T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine) and between them they control your metabolism, maintain normal body temperature and provide you with energy. But T4 is not the active hormone. In order that it can be used by the body, it must first be converted into T3. Most of this conversion process takes place not in the actual thyroid gland, but in the liver, kidneys and muscles. If your liver is fatty or sluggish, then that conversion will be compromised. If you are taking thyroxine medication from your doctor, this too must be converted to T3. If you are feeling no better, then it could be that your liver is to blame. Or it could be, that like me, your T4 doesn't convert to T3 at all. In which case you need additional T3 medication to satisfy your body's needs. A blood test will show whether this conversion is actually happening or not. If the T4 is not being used up in converting to T3 then it will be stored and you may become shaky, displaying the symptoms of having gone OVER-active (HYPERthyroid). It is vital that you work on improving your liver health if you want normal healthy thyroid hormone levels. (See my earlier post about liver health.) The herb Milk Thistle is a very good supplement to take to support the liver, as are nettle and dandelion teas. The thyroid gland itself must also be kept as healthy as possible, and these strategies may help; - IODINE deficiency is becoming increasingly common due to intensive farming methods and modern food production, which strips so much natural goodness from our foods during processing. They eradicate the natural vitamins and minerals, and then advertise food "With added B Vitamins" as if they're doing us a favour! The thyroid gland needs adequate iodine in order to manufacture the T4 and T3 hormones. Try this simple test at home to see if you are iodine-deficient. Paint some iodine on the inside of your thigh before bed. If it is still there in the morning, you're probably ok. If however the mark has disappeared, your body, desperate for iodine, has soaked it up. Iodine is mostly found in the ocean, so is present in seafood (wild, not farmed) and seaweed. Kelp is a rich source of iodine as can be taken as a supplement. Perversely, too much iodine can actually inhibit thyroid hormone production, so it needs to be used with care. - Ensure you are taking in enough of the mineral SELENIUM, which is required for the conversion of T4 into T3. Selenium also helps the immune system and can reduce production of auto-antibodies in Hashimoto's thyroiditis and Graves Disease. Brazil nuts are the richest source of selenium. - Eat good quality PROTEIN. The amino acid TYROSINE is necessary for thyroid hormone production. Tyrosine is found in chicken, fish and cheese and in smaller quantities in avocados, bananas and almonds. - Protein-rich foods are also a good source of ZINC, another mineral vital to the thyroid hormone receptors in your cells. Zinc-rich foods include: spinach, beef, prawns, kidney beans, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, oysters, watermelon seeds, garlic, lima beans, peanuts, egg yolks, turkey, salmon, crab, lobster, pork, dark chocolate, chickpeas, beef liver, brown rice, peas, sesame seeds, lamb, cashews and mushrooms.
You are not what you EAT, but what you ABSORB
Eating enough protein and taking the right supplements is only part of the story. If you aren't digesting the protein properly then you may suffer with IBS, bloating, gas, heartburn and acid reflux. Taking a DIGESTIVE ENZYME with each meal will help. Or sip some diluted APPLE CIDER VINEGAR before meals and eat in a relaxed atmosphere, CHEWING YOUR FOOD THOROUGHLY AND EATING SLOWLY. I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis so I know the problems it causes. Hypothyroidism is the pits, and no mistake! My aim here is to give you the tools to help yourself out of this (let's face it) major health crisis. A lot of this is basic stuff but your doctor may be unaware of it, so it's up to us to help ourselves.
Please pass this on to anyone suffering.
There will be more to follow.
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