What is The Thyroid?
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of our neck. This gland produces essential hormones for the smooth functioning of various systems and processes in our body, including metabolism (the process of converting the food we eat into the energy we require) Hence, when the production of these hormones takes a toll, i.e. hormones are either produced less or excessively, we call it Thyroid disease.
Learning the functions of the thyroid gland helps us understand why the thyroid and its well-being is so crucial for human health.
Functions of The Thyroid Gland :
- Managing the calories which our body burns (even as you read this), which in turn affects the weight
- Regulation of Heart rate
- Adjusting body’s temperature according to the environment
- Looking after the Muscle contraction action
- Tuning in ovulation, fertility and menstruation in women
- Synchronising with the growth hormone for proper growth in children.
Types of Thyroid Diseases:
- Subclinical Hypothyroidism
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Grave’s disease
- Thyroid Cancer
Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism:
- Gaining weight
- Frequent and heavy menstrual periods
- Dry and coarse hair
- Hoarse voice
- Intolerance to cold temperatures.
Signs and Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism:
- Anxiety, irritability and nervousness
- Trouble sleeping
- Weight loss
- Enlarged thyroid gland or a goitre
- Muscle weakness and tremors
- Irregular or absent menstruation
- Sensitivity to heat
- Vision problems or eye irritation
Statistically, women suffer more than men from thyroid diseases. Thyroid hormones are vital for the proper functioning of the female reproductive system, as they aid in modulating the metabolism & development of ovarian, uterine, and placental tissues 2.
Symptoms of Thyroid Dysfunction in Women:
- Alteration in energy levels or fatigue
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Complications in ovulation (release of the egg for fertilization) in women of reproductive age
- Formation of cysts in the ovaries
- Disturbed stages of menopause 3
Conventional Treatment for Thyroid Diseases (Not Sustainable!)
Conventional treatment looks at taking care of the diseases via medication, radiation or surgery which are implied in the case of hyperthyroidism to suppress thyroid hormone production. In contrast, thyroid replacement medications are prescribed for hypothyroidism to provide thyroid hormones externally. These strategies of treatment display drawbacks like side effects of medications, and at times permanent loss of the thyroid gland. Hence, it is always better to heal the thyroid gland naturally through functional nutrition-Food is Medicine (Totally sustainable!) 1.
Side Effects of Thyroid Medications 4:
- Elevated appetite
- Sensitivity to heat
- Excessive sweating
Adverse Side Effects of Thyroid Medications 4:
- Increased heart rate
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Heart attack
How Functional Medicine Helps To Cure The Thyroid Naturally?
Functional medicine aims at amending the thyroid function by first determining the root cause behind the thyroid disease5.
- Optimal nutrition: Adequate intake and availability of micronutrients such as iodine and iron are crucial for thyroid hormone synthesis, while selenium and zinc are crucial for the conversion of T4 to T3 5.
- Improving Gut health: An irritated gut leads to thyroid hormone imbalances. So, improving gut health may help in decreasing TSH hormone levels and fatigue 5.
- Impaired liver function: The liver contributes to thyroid hormone activation, transport and metabolism, which makes maintaining liver health is crucial for healthy thyroid functioning 5.
- Stress management: Thyroid hormone level changes in response to stress. Efficient stress management techniques like journaling, meditation, yoga and music therapy, and the inclusion of anti-inflammatory foods and antioxidants helps regulate thyroid function 5.
- Elimination of endocrine disruptors: Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) like Bisphenol A, Phthalates, Polychlorinated Biphenyls found in food, water, food packaging and personal care products hinder the thyroid function. Eliminating the usage of EDCs in everyday life helps restore and maintain healthy thyroid function 5.
How Eating The Right Food Can Help Your Thyroid?
Food is medicine, and eating the right food can help our bodies heal in the best way possible. Food is metabolised, absorbed and used by our body for various functions. The primary function of the thyroid is to control our metabolism. Metabolism is the process of our body transforming food into energy.
The thyroid secretes hormones called T3 and T4 that control our body’s metabolism. These hormones are the ones that tell our cells how much energy they need to use. Hence, eating foods that help boost metabolism and clear out micronutrient deficiencies can help heal thyroid function. There is no specific food or diet; that can reverse thyroid, yet a good lifestyle and dietary modification can surely do 1.
Dietary Approaches for Weight Loss in Thyroid Dysfunction:
- Eating the right amount of protein
- Eliminating gluten from the diet
- Getting rid of dairy from the diet
Lifestyle Modifications for Weight Loss in Thyroid Dysfunction14:
- Adequate sleep
- Stress management
- High-intensity workouts
Can Thyroid Deficiency Be Cured Permanently?
Yes, hypothyroidism can be cured permanently, but this is only possible when hypothyroidism is a temporary condition resulting from inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by either viral or bacterial infection. Treating Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) along with the treatment of hypothyroidism is known to reverse hypothyroidism which is caused by iron deficiency.
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