The human body consists of many organs and glands, all contributing to making us a functioning being. Our brain controls everything we do, and is the main organ of the central nervous system. The heart continuously pumps blood throughout our body, providing necessary oxygen and nutrients for our good health. This article is to tell you a little bit about the thyroid gland, its purpose, along with some of the things we can do for good thyroid health.
The thyroid is a small butterfly-shaped gland that is found in the middle of your throat. It produces hormones that impacts each and every cell, organ and tissue in the human body. These hormones help regulate energy levels and the body’s metabolism and also affect such important functions as a woman’s menstrual cycle and fertility, the strength and development of bones, the transportation of electrolytes throughout the body, regulating body temperature and the heart rate as well as the production of protein and countless other functions that keep the body on an even keel.
When there is an imbalance in these thyroid hormones, whether it be due to levels that are too low or too high, we can expect to find deterioration with our health. Thyroid disorders can have a negative impact on just about every area of our life. If you’re already in the pre-diabetes stage with high blood sugar, a sluggish thyroid can increase your diabetes risk by 40 percent. It is estimated that about half of those in the world suffering with thyroid issues are completely unaware this is the root of their problem.
Let’s first understand the role of two hormones, “thyroxine” and “triiodothyronine”. Thyroxine, or T4, is the thyroid “storage hormone.” Triiodothyronine, or T3, is the “energy hormone.” For the body to use T4, it must first convert it to the active hormone T3, giving energy to every cell in the body. In the case of “hypothyroidism”, the thyroid doesn’t produce enough of the hormones T3 or T4, or both. “Hyperthyroidism,” on the other hand, is when the body has too much of the needed thyroid hormones.
Some symptoms of hypothyroidism are 1. Extreme fatigue, 2. Depression, 3. Unexplainable weight gain, 4. Dry hair and skin, 5. Constipation, 6. Muscle weakness and discomfort, 7. And …. hmmm …. oh yes – forgetfulness.
Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are 1. Nervousness, 2. Weight loss, 3. Thin, brittle hair, 4. Multiple bowel movements, 5. Vision and eye issues, 6. High amounts of perspiration, 7. Sleep disturbances and problems
Notice the opposites in many of these conditions. Because these symptoms could be the result of so many other health issues, you can see why the thyroid is often overlooked.
So, what are some things we can do to contribute to optimum thyroid health? Well, first and foremost is our diet. Eating nutrient-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, etc.) contributes to overall health. Daily exercise can help your body burn more calories and more efficiently convert T4 to T3. Learn to manage the stress levels in your life.
Some things to avoid:
- Avoid fluoride from both your drinking water and toothpaste. Iodine is the basic building block of the T3 and T4 hormones and is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Fluoride displaces iodine in the thyroid gland, lending to an iodine deficiency.
- Eliminate plastics for holders of foods and drinks. BPA is a chemical compound found in plastic bottles and packaging and in the linings of food and drink cans. It has been linked to several serious health problems. BPA is known as an “endocrine disruptor”. This means it mimics naturally occurring hormones in the body, including thyroid hormones.
- Non-organic dairy products. Many allergies and food intolerances today are from dairy products (raised on an unnatural diet, hormones, etc.), which in turn can cause inflammation of the thyroid and affect its function.
- Lower your intake of sugars and grains and replace them with healthy fats (avocados, coconut oil). Most women especially consume far too many carbs which increase estrogen and negatively affect the thyroid.
- Perhaps a little more extreme, but highly suggested, is to have all of your mercury amalgam fillings removed. There are numerous heavy metals which can be toxic to one’s health, including mercury fillings. Mercury interferes with many of the minerals necessary for thyroid hormone production, as well as the conversion of T4 to T3.
Hypothyroidism is more prevalent than hyperthyroidism. Here are some foods and supplements to help with your diet.
- Iodine: The thyroid cannot function without iodine to make the hormone thyroxine (T4). The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. Kelp and seaweed are the best options you have for natural iodine supplementation. Other foods rich in iodine are fish (wild-caught salmon, cod), eggs, cranberries, baked potato and yogurt. All foods should be organic whenever possible. Kelp can also be bought in powder form and tablets.
- Selenium: Selenium, an essential mineral, provides antioxidant protection and immune system stimulation, as well as supporting thyroid health. Your thyroid contains more selenium (per gram of tissue) than any other organ. It can be found in foods such as nuts (Brazil, cashews and walnuts), seeds (sesame, chia, flax and pumpkin), tuna, beef, lamb, and chicken. Zinc and magnesium also contribute to producing the T4 hormone.
- Fermented foods: These include kefir (a fermented dairy product) or organic goat’s milk yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and sauerkraut. Part of your hypothyroidism diet, probiotics help create a healthy gut environment by balancing microflora bacteria, which reduces leaky gut syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, inflammation and autoimmune reactions.
- Stinging Nettle: Stinging Nettle is an herb which appears to be helpful for both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. It is an excellent thyroid tonic due to the fact that it is rich in many minerals that can improve thyroid health. Other beneficial herbs include licorice, Siberian Ginseng and bladderwhack.
- Essential Oils: Some oils such as myrrh and lemongrass are excellent for thyroid support and 1 or 2 drops can be applied directly to the throat area. Other oils such as Frankincense and peppermint can be added to hot water and drank as a tea.
If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid disorder, explore your treatment options by first consulting with a natural-health doctor. Then allow your diet to help your body restore its own natural balance.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I don’t have any medical training. I am just an individual that researches information that other people have studied and proven to be effective, and I just pass that information on to you.