Is Your Sluggish Thyroid Causing You To Gain Weight?
The thyroid gland is among the larger glands within the endocrine system. It controls how quickly the body uses energy, makes proteins and controls hormone sensitivity. Virtually all of our metabolic processes are determined by our thyroid. Hormonal output by the thyroid gland is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) which is produced in the pituitary, the principle of these hormones are triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4).
As we age, thyroid disorders become increasingly common, usually involving an abnormal production of hormones. These can include hyperthyroidism, which is the over-production of thyroid hormones and hypothyroidism, which is the underproduction of thyroid. Thyroid disorders are more prevalent in women than men and are more likely to occur in women over the age of 30. Of these disorders, hypothyroidism is the most common and is a frequent cause or contributor to many of the problems we associate with aging. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain
- Hair loss of the scalp
- Excess hair growth in unwanted areas, such as the chin and neck
- Muscle and joint pain and weakness
- Increased sensitivity to cold
- Dry skin
- Puffy face
- Excessive and/or irregular menstrual bleeding
What is unfortunate is that there is a tendency by the medical establishment to treat hypothyroidism as an isolated condition rather than with a holistic approach, taking into account the patient’s entire medical history. Hormone imbalances can lead to hypothyroidism and hypothyroidism will lead to other hormone imbalances, creating a vicious cycle. The success rate of treating hypothyroidism with conventional pharmaceuticals is less than encouraging. Many patients report that they notice no real difference in how they look and feel after taking these prescriptions.
There has also been some controversy regarding the role certain pharmaceutical companies have played in suppressing research showing that their medications might not work as they claimed. Synthroid, also known as Levoxythyroxine and often sold under other genetic labels, has been used almost exclusively by physicians to treat hypothyroidism since it was first introduced in 1955. It has become the third most prescribed drug in the U.S. behind Lipitor and Premarin. This vast marketing of Synthroid to treat hypothyroidism, despite many complaints by patients that it was not working as claimed, led to an investigation followed by a class-action lawsuit that started in 1996.
The reason Synthroid does not work for so many people is simple: Synthroid only stimulates the T4 hormone in our bodies. Normally when a hormone is produced, it communicates to the other hormones and corresponding cells, telling them how to function correctly. If we are otherwise healthy and have a generally balanced hormone production and excellent diet, the T4 hormone will be converted into T3, which is the primary hormone needed to prevent or overcome the symptoms of hypothyroidism.
These problems with Synthroid, while well known in the medical establishment, have not stopped it from being widely prescribed by endocrinologists and other doctors. While some people who have hypothyroidism due to autoimmune disorders will need a prescription for a thyroid-replacement drug and should talk to their physician to look into one that boosts T3 production, many others will benefit from naturally increasing their thyroid production and working with their bodies to balance their hormones rather than becoming dependent upon a pharmaceutical which may or may not relieve their symptoms.
There are many natural ways to boost thyroid by making positive changes to our diets, nutrition and incorporating more exercise into our daily activities. For some people, this may involve simply taking a supplement if they already have a healthy diet and engage in regular physical activity. For others, a low glycemic diet like the Amino Diet is necessary in order to get the best nutrition for our condition, combined with a marked increase in physical activity. Supplementx can include:
- Selenium: This one essential trace mineral is critical to thyroid function and other health-related issues yet is something that is often lacking in the Western diet. According to the July, 15, 2000 issue of the British-based medical journal, The Lancet, Selenium is vital to reducing thyroid problems as well as fertility issues, pregnancy, heart health and even in preventing the progression of HIV to AIDS. It noted that selenium consumption within the U.K. has dropped by 50% just within the past two decades. Selenium appears to be one of the primary nutrients responsible for allowing the conversion of T4 into T3. There are many supplements that contain selenium, including supplements which are designed to help boost thyroid production. Selenium can also be naturally found in many foods within the United States. Much of our soil is rich in selenium. Plants and animals that are raised on this soil are the best sources of selenium-rich foods. Nuts and seeds also usually have high levels of selenium with Brazil nuts carrying the highest amounts of selenium of any food. A 1-ounce serving of Brazil nuts actually provides over 700% of the recommended daily value of selenium. As extremely high levels of selenium can be toxic, a diet high in Brazil nuts can actually lead to a toxic level of selenium. A diet of mixed nuts including Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds is therefore a safer way to increase selenium levels. In any case, actual overdoses from selenium are quite rare. Most grains grown within the U.S. are also high in selenium, so incorporating additional whole grains into the diet is usually beneficial. Seafood, including tuna and oysters, are rich in selenium. Other fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy can be high in selenium if they were grown or raised in selenium-rich areas. Of course, look for meats and dairy which are organically raised and free of growth hormones and antibiotics.
- Iodine: Iodine is also necessary for healthy thyroid function as iodine molecules are needed to produce both T3 and T4 hormones. It is also vital for overall immune-system health and may reduce the risks for certain forms of cancer. While autoimmune thyroid disease is not caused by iodine deficiency, virtually all other causes of hypothyroidism can be related to low levels of iodine consumption. Traditionally this occurs more often in areas where people do not have easy access to seafood or iodized salt though many Westerners simply have diets which lack these things. Iodine supplements are readily available on the market though not everyone can consume iodine directly. Those who are allergic to seafood should not take iodine. Others fare better with supplemental herbs and foods that contain iodine, such as kelp and Irish moss. Both of these can also be found in supplemental form. Still, there are others who do not do well taking any form of supplemental iodine in any form, either due to allergic reactions or problems with absorption. When this is the case, look for foods that are rich in iodine. Seafood is easily the most recognized source and has some of the highest levels of iodine in the world. In addition, oysters and clams often contain copper, which is vital for thyroid function. Those who cannot or will not eat seafood can also find foods that contain kelp, which is an underwater plant. Kelp can be found in many Asian dishes and can be used in many recipes which call for lettuce, including salad and soups. For those who cannot find or do not like kelp, strawberries are among the few fruits which contain iodine. Yoghurt is often a good source of iodine and strawberry yoghurt will have even higher levels.
- Thiamine (B1): Thiamine is a water-soluble, B-complex vitamin that is often overlooked when discussing thyroid health, yet is absolutely necessary for thyroid function and production. Thiamine deficiencies lead to hypothyroidism and other imbalanced hormones. Fortunately, thiamine is readily available in either supplemental form or in many foods. Beans, peas, lentils and long grain brown rice are all high in thiamine. Black beans, in particular, are absolutely loaded with thiamine. Whole wheat foods, Brazil nuts, cooked eggs, milk, oranges and spinach also contain thiamine. As always, look for dairy products that are free from added hormones and antibiotics.
- Endocrine Boost Supplement: The Endocrine Boost Supplement is a premium formulation from Amino Diet that is specifically designed to support the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis. This axis is a major part of the neuroendocrine system and plays a key role in regulating many of the body’s functions, including the immune system, digestion, emotional and mental health, energy storage metabolism as well as the stimulation and regulation of many hormones, including cortisol. By aiding in adrenal hormone production, it helps support all of our neurological functions and improves or maintains the health of our adrenal and thyroid glands. This supplement is highly recommended for women over 30 or anyone experiencing hormone imbalance.
- Exercise: Few things can help thyroid function as much as engaging in exercise yet it can be difficult for a patient with low thyroid to find the energy and stamina to incorporate regular physical activity into daily life. We should remember that even small amounts of exercise taken in incremental steps can do wonders for our thyroid function, hormone regulation, metabolism and mental health. Aerobic exercise can actually increase thyroid production by boosting the levels of T3 and T4. Those of us who are not the most physically fit can still incorporate small amounts of aerobic activity into our routines. Some of the best ways to get fit and boost thyroid production is by incorporating exercise into small, periodic intervals. No matter what our current level of fitness, these small intervals of exercise allow us to improve our stamina and level of fitness over time. Exercising in intervals not only allows us to increase our physical endurance but it also helps boost our production of human growth hormone (HGH). This, in turn, helps regulate our blood sugar, metabolism and other hormones, including thyroid.
What is it worth to you to look and feel your best? Is it worth making some modifications to your diet and lifestyle? For every excuse you can come up with for not improving your diet and engaging in exercise, I bet you could find at least two reasons why you should. You can change your life by changing your attitude and take the first small steps to a better, healthier you. It begins by taking that first, small step.
For more information about the thyroid or the Amino Diet protocol and supplements call 1-800-980-7208 or click the get started button.