The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in your neck. It plays a pivotal role in regulating various bodily functions, from metabolism, body temperature, hormones, skin and hair health to energy levels. It plays a crucial role in hormonal health as it is responsible for producing two regulating and essential hormones: T4 and T3.
The thyroid hormones influence the function of other hormones in the body, such as insulin, cortisol, and sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone). Thyroid dysfunction can lead to imbalances in these hormones, affecting blood sugar regulation, stress response, and reproductive health.
It all begins in the brain. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain work in tandem with the thyroid to maintain hormonal balance. The pituitary gland produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) which in turns stimulates the thyroid to produce and release T3 and T4.
In order for the body to use these hormones the T4 needs to be converted into T3 as this is the active form. This conversion takes place in 2 areas of the body: liver and gut. This is why focusing our attention to making sure the liver and gut are healthy is so important for thyroid health.
These are just a few signs or symptoms that your thyroid might need attention:
- Unexplained weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Cold or heat intolerance
- Dry skin
- Brittle hair that becomes thin, dry or course, and hair loss
- Nervousness and anxiety
- Swelling, puffiness, particularly around the eyes and face
- Enlarged thyroid gland that may be visible as swelling in the neck
- Increased sweating
Lets explore some practical tips to support your thyroid:
- Maintain a Balanced Diet: eating whole foods with plenty of vegetables, protein and healthy fats. As well as some starchy vegetables and fruits.
- Be Mindful about Goitrogenic Foods: these include cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) and soy based products can interfere with thyroid function. When consuming them if cooked the goitrogenic effect is less.
- Pay Attention to your Gut Health: you should be having daily bowel movements, if there is bloating, indigestion or gas that might be a sign that you need to work on your gut.
- Get Adequate Sleep: quality sleep is crucial for overall health and hormonal balance. Aim for around 8 hours of sleep at night.
- Consider Supplementation: some people may benefit from supplementing with iodine, selenium and/or vitamin D.
- Manage Stress: practicing stress-reduction techniques like meditation, yoga, deep breathing, or mindfulness can help.
- Detox the Cell : one of the most important considerations, heavy metal toxicity can significantly affect thyroid health and other areas of our health.
When assessing thyroid health a combination of medical evaluation, symptoms and bloodwork are necessary. It goes beyond just testing TSH levels as this doesn’t tell the whole story, a complete thyroid panel will give us a better idea of what’s going on.
Remember that maintaining thyroid health is a personalized journey. What works for one person may not work for another, so its crucial to work closely with a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for your specific needs.