What does your metabolism, how you perceive hot and cold, and weight all have in common?
The answer is your thyroid!
When it comes to topics like metabolism, most people might not think of their thyroid. But this small gland, along with your nervous system and immune system, work together to keep your body working as it should.
It’s estimated that 20 million US citizens have some type of thyroid dysfunction, and 60% aren’t even aware of it (1).
How much do you know about thyroid health? If you answered “not much,” you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll give a basic overview on thyroid health and see how it’s all connected.
How does the thyroid gland work? This small, butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck are responsible for producing two hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
These hormones are part of your endocrine system and play an important role in your body’s metabolic processes, how it uses energy, regulating body temperature, weight, and even how your nervous system functions (2).
Thyroid Problems & Disease
Like any other organ, your thyroid is a delicate organism with a complex nature. Internal and external factors can influence whether it continues to function properly, or throw it off balance.
Some of the most common types of thyroid dysfunctions are:
- Thyroiditis: a condition with swelling or inflammation of the thyroid.
- Goiter: this is the term used for a general enlargement of the thyroid gland.
- Hyperthyroidism: when your thyroid produces too much thyroid hormone, causing your body to use energy too quickly.
- Hypothyroidism: when your thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone, causing you to not use energy fast enough.
- Hoshimoto’s: disease: this hereditary condition is considered an autoimmune disease, because your immune system attacks your thyroid. It’s said to be a painless disease, and can affect women more often than men (3).
- Grave’s disease: also called Badesow’s disease, this is another autoimmune disorder. It’s also a variation of hyperthyroidism, with complications including strokes, vision problems, and light sensitivity (4).
- Thyroid nodules: lumps found in the thyroid.
- Thyroid cancer: cancer found within the thyroid
Symptoms of Thyroid Disease
If you’re concerned about developing thyroid disease, it helps to know what common signs are. That way, you can take appropriate action to ensure the best possible outcome.
Early warning signs of a possible thyroid issue are:
- Weight loss/gain
- Sensitivity to cold/heat
- Increased/decreased heart rate
Note that other conditions and diseases may have similar symptoms, or may be interrelated. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms for an extended period of time, make an appointment with your doctor. Early detection can make all the difference.
Improving Thyroid Health
There are a number of ways you can improve thyroid health. If you currently have a thyroid disorder, speak with your healthcare provider before starting anything new. Together, you can come up with an actionable plan.
Even if you don’t have a thyroid condition, living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent problems down the road. Good food, regular exercise, and natural supplements can work together to keep your thyroid healthy.
- Food: eating nutrient-dense foods will not only benefit your thyroid, it can keep the rest of your body in optimal condition. Foods that contain iodine like saltwater fish, seaweed or seafood, and some dairy products. Lean proteins and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables are also recommended (6).
- Herbs/Supplements: adding extra nutrients like Vitamin D, selenium, and Vitamin B12 can do wonders for your thyroid. Herbs such as Bladderwrack, black cumin, glycyrrhiza glabra, and gotu kola can help manage symptoms (5).
- Note: Bladderwrack may provide too much iodine, causing adverse side effects. Consult with your healthcare provider before adding herbs to your regimen.
- Exercise: Need another reason to hit the walking trails? Studies show that getting regular exercise can help improve thyroid function among those diagnosed with hypothyroidism (6).
Your thyroid is an incredibly important part of a healthy and happy body. It may be smaller, but it plays a big role in regulating body temperatures, your metabolism, as well as the immune and nervous system.
There are two main thyroid dysfunctions, but others variations that equal 8 problems that can occur. It’s important to speak with your doctor if you experience thyroid symptoms that don’t go away on their own.
If you happen to be diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, there are some steps you can take. A healthy diet, herbs, medication and exercise can help you manage.
Your thyroid is only one small part of the grander picture of health. Could your thyroid health use some improvement? Mpw that you have a better understanding of how it’s all connected, take the knowledge you’ve learned here and pass it on today!
References & Disclaimer
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author