Have you ever heard a friend, family member or work colleague say to you ‘Oh, I have a slow thyroid’? Often this type of comment is perceived as a reason not to exercise, or an excuse for extra body weight that is being carried.
Well, it is highly possible that your cynical thoughts are incorrect. Millions of people worldwide have some form of thyroid disease with women being five to eight times more likely than men to be affected.
Statistics actually show that 1 in 8 women will be told that they have a thyroid problem in their lifetime, and as women age, the prognosis worsens.
So, what are some of the symptoms of low thyroid function? Fatigue, brain fog, weight gain, cold hands and feet, sluggish bowels, depressed mood, cognitive decline and low vitality. The unfortunate thing about low thyroid function is that although one may feel some or all of the symptoms, a blood test may still show that you are in ‘normal range’.
The thyroid gland is a gland shaped a little like a butterfly that is located at the base of the neck. This gland is a leader for all bodily functions, such as setting metabolism, controlling body temperature and ensuring that all systems are running as they should. Two key hormones are produced by the thyroid and affect every cell in the body, these being thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
If the thyroid is running as it should and going smoothly, then your metabolism and mood will also. On the flip side of this, if the gland is sluggish, then so too will be hopes of weight loss and general health goals.
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Below are some reasons as to why low function thyroid may occur
High Blood Sugar
Consumption of processed sugars and carbohydrates has increased over the past 50 years or so and the effects on insulin, blood sugar and functioning of the thyroid have been immense. With humans over indulging in sugary drinks, high-carb breakfasts and sweet treats it’s no wonder that insulin function declines, making the body pump greater amounts of insulin, which in turn leads to insulin dysfunction. If left untreated this can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes.
An underlying cause of thyroid dysfunction is stress. In this day and age we are constantly on the go with little time to ourselves. While this can be productive in some cases, it can also take its toll on the body, brain, and ultimately the thyroid. The function of the thyroid will slow down and result in less thyroid-stimulating hormone if we fill our days working long hours, having a constant barrage of texts, emails and social media updates. The solution is straight forward… Reduce stress levels by limiting phone use, spending more time in nature and doing the things you love. Try eliminating all stimulants such as coffee for one week and see how you feel.
Low Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D is very important for the healthy formation of the thyroid hormones. Those who are not exposed to the sun frequently, suffer from cold and flu regularly or who live in an extreme winter climate are more than likely to have low Vitamin D levels, which in turn affects the function of the thyroid. Food such as egg yolks, pork and mushrooms all contain Vitamin D, however eating these foods alone will not be enough to keep Vitamin D levels where they should be. The sun is the winner when it comes to sourcing Vitamin D, so those that struggle with thyroid dysfunction may find benefit in taking a supplement during the colder months.
The thyroid is such an important part of the body and indicates when it is time to ‘refill’ or ‘service’ the body. The worrying thing is that often people don’t watch for the early signs of thyroid dysfunction, or in fact, don’t know what the signs are. So if you are feeling sluggish, have excess inflammation and stress, weight gain, digestive dysfunction and nutrient deficiencies, then it may be time to talk to a health professional and get help with getting your health back on track!