Is Your Thyroid Slowing You Down?

September 25, 2018

Is Your Thyroid Slowing You Down?

Our bodies change as we age, that’s a fact we can’t deny from the moment we find that first gray hair or notice we must squint to read our mail. Some changes are easy to identify and resolve, like buying reading glasses when we need them, for example. We chalk it up to the aging process and adapt. But sometimes the signs of our aging aren’t as obvious, or we don’t know that what we are experiencing isn’t necessarily “normal” aging.

This can be the case with thyroid issues.  We might not recognize the problem because it has multiple symptoms that are easy to attribute to other causes. For example, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, and mood swings might be caused by lifestyle or by medications, but they can also be indicators of a thyroid problem. If we don’t know the many symptoms of thyroid issues, we may not think to tell our healthcare providers.

Symptoms of a problem

Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that makes hormones that affect many of your bodies’ activities, such as heart rate, temperature regulation and how quickly you burn calories. It affects your body’s energy level, and how its cells do their jobs. When your thyroid doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, (hypothyroidism) your metabolism slows down and you might develop depression, a low heart rate, menstrual issues, thinning hair, dry skin, weight gain and a puffy face, fatigue, sensitivity to cold, and constipation.

It’s easy to see how many of these symptoms can be attributed to something else, like stress or simply aging.  

What can I do to help myself?

If you suspect your thyroid is slowing you down, your doctor can do a simple blood test to verify and determine if you require medication for proper management. But whether or not you’ve been diagnosed, you can make lifestyle changes to support a healthier thyroid and help to manage associated symptoms.

Nature’s best medicine: food

A healthy diet is a thyroid-healthy diet. Thyroid hormone levels are influenced both by trace elements found in our diet and by some foods which directly or indirectly impact the functioning of your thyroid.

  • Avoid sugar, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates (sound familiar?).  Both caffeine and sugar impact adrenal function with in turn plays an important role in thyroid regulation.
  • Add good proteins to transport thyroid hormone throughout your body. Meats and dairy products that are antibiotic and hormone free, legumes, nuts/nut butters, and quinoa are good sources (Soy protein is not a good source, as it can affect your endocrine system).
  • Evaluate your fat intake. Your body needs good fats and cholesterol to maintain hormonal balance. Good choices include: avocados, nuts/nut butters, fish, whole fat dairy products, coconut milk, olive oil, and flax seeds.
  • Avoid foods that may interfere with thyroid function. While fruits and vegetables have many health benefits, some raw versions are not thyroid friendly. Cook the following to negate the anti-thyroid effects: strawberries and peaches; broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, rutabaga, radishes, turnips, spinach and kale.

De-stress

Your thyroid is sensitive to the stress hormone, cortisol. Manage your stress to support your thyroid. Meditation, yoga, exercise, and having a good support network (friends, family) all can help you manage stress.

Supplement

Every body needs a little help now and then. Despite our best intentions, we may not always get what we need from our diet. Supplementing your diet with marine collagen, micronutrients, minerals, and probiotics supports your thyroid function and helps to mitigate some of the symptoms associated with an overactive or underactive thyroid gland.

  • Collagen helps many people sleep better so they feel more rested and motivated to exercise. It also works to build healthy muscle tissue making exercise more rewarding. 
  • Marine collagen reduces systemic inflammation which improves mobility and makes activity more comfortable.
  • Micronutrient and mineral deficiencies can worsen your symptoms. Make sure you’re getting enough iron, omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, D, and the B’s;
  • Probiotics support your gut bacteria, home to a large part of your immune system. A dysfunctional immune system is often the cause of hypothyroidism.

If you think you’re experiencing thyroid issues, or notice changes in how your body is functioning, talk to your doctor before writing them off as aging.


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