That little butterfly-shaped gland in your neck known as the thyroid can have a significant impact on many bodily functions. An estimated 30 million Americans are said to have a thyroid disorder, and as many as one in three women who are over 35 may be suffering from thyroid problems, according to some estimates.
The thyroid produces a hormone that helps to regulate your heartbeat, body temperature, metabolism and other functions. Whether its underactive or overactive, you may start to notice negative effects.
There are many things that can cause the thyroid to get out of whack, including pregnancy, genetics, stress, toxins and nutritional deficiencies — there is no one definitive answer, and because thyroid hormones can affect practically every area of the body, diagnosing a disorder isn’t always easy.
Here is a look at some of the signs of a thyroid problem:
If you’re always tired, even after sleeping 8 to 10 hours a night, it’s a common sign that your thyroid hormone levels are low. Of course, fatigue and low energy is associated with many conditions, but if you don’t have enough TH (thyroid hormone) flowing through your body, your muscles aren’t receiving a signal to get up and get moving.
If it feels as though you’re walking around in a fog all day, or you’re having difficulty focusing, or forgetting things frequently, it could be that your thyroid is out of whack. Too much TH can make it hard to concentrate, while too little can cause memory problems.
Those with hypothyroidism often complain of constipation as it can cause the digestive process to slow. An overactive thyroid gland can cause the opposite problem, such as diarrhea or more frequent bowel movements.
Mood swings, anxiety or depression can develop in those with thyroid disorders. Anxiety and nervousness are linked to hyperthyroidism because the body is flooded constantly with a message to “go, go, go.”
Weight gain or loss
Putting on a few pounds can be caused by many different things, so few physicians will consider weight gain as a symptom of a thyroid problem.
But if you aren’t eating any more than usual and you exercise regularly and still can’t seem to lose those extra pounds, it could very well be an underactive thyroid. On the other hand, a sudden loss of weight without really trying could be a symptom of hyperthyroidism.
If you suspect you have a thyroid problem, you should see your healthcare provider, but there are a number of things you can do to naturally correct thyroid function as well.
- Switch from iodized table salt to sea salt as it has more minerals that help support better thyroid functioning.
- Follow a gluten-free diet, which has also been shown to improve thyroid function. Research has found a link between wheat allergies and thyroid disease.
- Practice stress reduction techniques such as meditation or deep-breathing. Chronic stress is said to be one of the main triggers of hypothyroidism.
- Avoid chemicals like Triclosan, which is commonly found in items like antibacterial soap, deodorant, lotions and even in cutting boards.
- Supplement with probiotics as good thyroid functioning depends on a supply of healthy gut bacteria.
- Follow an anti-inflammatory diet by eliminating processed foods and eating as many whole, organic foods as possible.
- Take a high quality multivitamin and make sure you’re getting enough iodine, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc and copper.
A thyroid disorder can be very detrimental to your quality of life — if you suspect a problem, don’t ignore it!