Are you gaining weight even though your eating habits are the same? Or, perhaps you’re losing weight even though you’re eating everything in sight.
Anytime we gain weight without any known reason, we might jokingly use the old “thyroid problem” to explain the unexpected weight gain away. But the reality is— an under active thyroid just might be the reason why we’re putting on all of those extra pounds.
So, If you answered yes to either of the two questions above, you just might have joined the ranks of some 200 million people who are diagnosed with thyroid disease, which is caused by an improperly functioning thyroid gland.
The Thyroid Gland
A thyroid gland is a small butterfly shaped gland that’s found in the base of your neck right above your collarbone, and its main function in the body is to remove iodine from the blood and use it to make two very important thyroid hormones— Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxin (T4).
Too much or too little of these thyroid hormones can wreak havoc on your health because T3 and T4 hormones are responsible for delivering energy to every cell in your body. A normally functioning thyroid gland will produce 0.1% of the T3 hormone and 99.9% of the T4 hormone. If T3 and T4 are out of balance, you run the risk of developing either hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when your thyroid is overactive and therefore, produces an excessive amount of thyroid hormones, which leads to the following symptoms:
- Trouble sleeping
- Anxiety and irritability
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Increase sensitivity to heat
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Increased appetite
- Weight loss even though your eating habits haven’t changed
- Rapid heart rate
- Frequent bowel movements
- Intolerance to heat
And while hyperthyroidism causes you to lose excessive weight, hypothyroidism does the exact opposite.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid gland is under active and consequently, does not produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormones. This can make you feel as if your body has come to a screeching halt and without the proper amount of thyroid hormones in your cells, it almost has. End result —the symptoms that are listed below.
- Weight gain, weight gain, and more weight gain-even though you are eating the same amount of food
- Sensitivity to cold
- Puffy face
- Muscle and/or joint pain
- Increased menstrual bleeding
If you have any of the symptoms for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, here is what you’ll need to do.
So You Think You Have Thyroid Disease—Now What!
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms from either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, you should see your doctor and ask to have your hormone levels checked. If your symptoms fall under hyperthyroidism, here’s a checklist to help you get the conversation started.
Generally, doctors will check your thyroid hormone levels by doing a Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) test, which will determine if your thyroid hormone levels are too high or too low. Unfortunately, the TSH will not determine the cause of the imbalance in your hormone levels, but it’s a good starting point to help determine if further testing will be needed.
If left unchecked both, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can be life threatening.
Hyperthyroidism can lead to life threatening heart problems such as atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure; and hypothyroidism left untreated can also increase your level of LDL cholesterol, which puts you at risk for developing an enlarged heart and/or heart failure.
Again, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms for hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, you should consult with your doctor to see if you should be treated with medication. However, if your thyroid is functioning properly, make sure you are eating the right foods to keep it working perfectly.
Taking Care of your Thyroid Naturally
Luckily, something as simple as increasing your iodine intake could be the solution to a healthy functioning thyroid. Consuming these foods can insure that you are getting the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg.
- Iodized Salt
- Frozen Yogurt
- Seaweed (including kelp, dulce, nori)
- Soy Milk
- Dairy Milk