Do you feel tired?....Exhausted?…Not coping with stress? Have you lost your mojo? Could be your thyroid.
Our thyroid plays a key role in our body’s ability to function. Yet, lifestyle factors like stress and diet can throw the thyroid out of balance and affect the body in a number of ways.
The thyroid is the centre of energy and metabolism. Without enough thyroid hormones, every system in the body slows down. When the thyroid is not doing its job properly, you can have numerous symptoms such as:
- Slower mental processes, brain fog, poor concentration and memory
- Low mood/depression
- Weight gain
- Cold intolerance
- Dry skin
- Slow digestion
- Poor sleep
- Hair loss
- Menstrual problems
- Muscle and joint aches
- Breathing problems
- Fluid retention
- Heart palpitations
- High cholesterol
- Low iron
- Decreased libido
As you can see, the thyroid plays a big role in your general well-being. You may have just a few of these symptoms but they can be a result of a condition called hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid. This is a condition that occurs when the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones to meet the needs of the body. So, even a slight dip in thyroid hormone activity can have a fairly major impact on your overall health.
It is important to note however, that a lot of the above symptoms overlap with many other health conditions so it is imperative to get a full health history taken and the right kinds of tests to determine if the thyroid is responsible.
SO, WHAT CAN CAUSE THE THYROID TO BECOME UNDERACTIVE?
All that really matters is that you get diagnosed properly, but here are several reasons for the thyroid not working optimally.
- Hashimoto’s disease is a common cause of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). This is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system turns against the body’s own tissues, resulting in inflammation and destruction of thyroid tissue. This reduces the thyroid’s ability to make thyroid hormones.
- Infections from bacteria and viruses may also be linked to autoimmune diseases like thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland).
- Stress: One major reason that contributes hugely is chronic stress. The thyroid gland and the adrenals have a reciprocal relationship and one affects the other. If stress is chronic this decreases thyroid hormone production which then leads to poor energy and poor stress coping.
- Poor sleep: An imbalance in the thyroid impacts the metabolic function of the body’s cells that can trigger insomnia. In addition, because the thyroid is linked to the adrenal glands poor cortisol balance can also impact sleep quality.
- Poor diet: Many foods are inflammatory which can slow down mitochondrial function and impact thyroid function by slowing it down. In addition to iodine, several vitamins and minerals are also required from the diet to support thyroid hormone production.
- Gut Health: The trillions of microbes that reside in the gut have a huge influence on the production of thyroid hormones. If the gut is inflamed, as is often the case with microbial imbalance, this can result in impaired intestinal permeability, nutrient mal-absorption, food intolerances and IBS symptoms like bloating, wind, reflux and bowel problems.
Considering the gut houses 70% of the immune system, if the gut is compromised this can stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies that can attack thyroid tissue and result in a diagnosis of Hashimotos disease.
There are many other contributing factors to why the thyroid may not be working optimally. Environmental toxins, pesticides and herbicides, hormonal changes – high estrogen, pregnancy and menopause, poor liver health and inflammation can be linked to a poor functioning thyroid.
It is vital that the key thyroid pathology tests are ordered as this eliminates any guesswork, and provides invaluable insights into WHY you just don’t feel right.
It is quite common for many people and particularly women to show several signs of a sluggish thyroid. The most common test for thyroid usually only measures TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). But this is only one marker of thyroid health. I see many cases in clinic where the TSH is within a normal range and this can look like the results are “fine”. However, they still feel very unwell with a lot of the above symptoms.
To get the full picture of thyroid health it is important to order a full thyroid panel including thyroid antibodies in conjunction with a full health history to determine the underlying causes.
For a complimentary 15-minute consultation to discuss your unique situation why not book in for a chat to speak to one of our practitioners to help you on your wellness journey.