While many of us know the thyroid organ, if you ask the average person what our thyroid actually does, you’re likely to be met with a blank stare and we don’t blame you. The thyroid is a sensitive and complicated organ that is influenced by numerous environmental factors including diet, stress, exposure to toxins and nutrient deficiencies. It controls our metabolism and energy levels through the hormones it produces and influences our body temperature. Put simply, the thyroid is like the spark plug that gives energy to the body. So, you can see why if your thyroid is out of whack, how your whole body can often be too. Here, we share our top tips on how you can identify if your thyroid is running on empty and the steps to getting it back on track.
IDENTIFY THE SIGNS
Did you know there are thousands of people in Australia that experience thyroid issues, but many are unaware they are suffering? We most commonly see thyroid issues arise during perimenopause, menopause, postpartum and following a stressful event.
However, many misdiagnose their symptoms for something else, so it’s crucial to know the signs. Many people with thyroid issues often experience the following symptoms:
• Low energy
• Sugar cravings
• Weight gain / issues losing weight
• Mood swings
The thyroid is the number one hormone to look at when you experience the above symptoms, especially rapid weight gain, even if you have a great diet and engage in regular exercise (the thyroid doesn’t discriminate!)
Too little of the thyroid hormone, known as hypothyroidism, causes your body to slow your metabolism. Therefore, instead of using your calories, you store them as fat, which then results in weight gain and filters down to impact energy levels and food cravings. On the other hand, when your body produces too much of the thyroid hormone, known as hyperthyroidism, it can have the opposite affect and accelerate your body's metabolism, resulting in unintentional weight loss.
GET TESTED... PROPERLY
It’s important to understand what levels and symptoms constitute ‘great’ thyroid function versus ‘okay’ or ‘poor’ function. The standard medical test is to check thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
However, this is only one marker of thyroid activity and does not provide a whole picture of what is happening. It is also quite common to be told thyroid function is normal as tests often return in the healthy “range,” despite many people still experiencing all the symptoms of hypothyroid / hyperthyroid.
Just because tests came back “normal” it doesn’t mean there isn’t a thyroid issue. The true state of thyroid health is often only revealed with deeper investigations and targeted testing.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE THYROID AND BOOST METABOLISM
You’ve identified the signs. You’ve been tested. Now what? It’s time to feed your thyroid several key nutrients like Iodine, selenium, zinc and L-Tyrosine, all of which boost thyroid function and are necessary for your thyroid to do its job properly. These nutrients are the key to ensuring the full function of the thyroid and ultimately, your entire body. When you get conutrient levels right and remove hand brakes, the true picture is revealed and we can fix the issue accordingly.
Integrative medicine is all about being proactive, rather than waiting for a problem to be there. Your health should be your priority so if you’re experiencing similar issues, ask yourself whether your thyroid might be part of the problem.