As you may know the end of May was Thyroid Awareness week but why stop talking about the thyroid just because the awareness week has passed? Therefore we’ve decided to extend the awareness week into a constant and keep talking about your thyroid. If you’re a regular reader of the blog, and we know you are, then you’ve most likely noticed that thyroid problems come up a lot. And with good reason. So, let’s go back to basics and look at the what, why, how and holy crap of your thyroid.
Back to thyroid basics
Even those of us with actual thyroid issues occasionally need a refresher course – although that’s mostly to do with the brain fog. Nonetheless, taking another look at any condition you have, as well as the latest treatment and thinking is always a good idea. And Thyroid Awareness Week isn’t just about the things that can go wrong. It’s also about looking at ways to help improve the gland’s health and keep it that way. But before we can do that, we’ve got to know what it does in the first place.
Lucky, then, that thyroids are sort of a specialty at Hormona HQ. From actual endocrinologists to Graves sufferers, hormones are kind of us. So here’s what you need to know, physically speaking.
What does the thyroid do?
The gland itself is butterfly shaped and located at the base of you throat. The two wings lay either side of you windpipe and are connected by a bridge of tissue known as the isthmus. They’re about half-a-plum in size and if you’re lucky, that’s all you’ll ever need to know.
However, around 30 percent of women will end up with some sort of fritzy thyroid gland. And five percent of the general population will as well. Of course, as with all things hormonal, women are more likely to suffer. Which is why it’s so important that we’re all clued up on thyroidal goings on.
At it’s essence, the thyroid is a hormone factory. It specializes in just two hormones, known as T3 and T4, and secretes them into your bloodstream at the necessary levels. How does it know what levels of those hormones you need? It’s controlled by your pituitary gland, buried deep in your brain, and the pair are connected by those same hormone levels. When things need changing, the thyroid takes it’s orders and adjusts accordingly.
Sometimes, though, your thyroid loses control of those levels. And if that happens to you, it’s immediately apparent why those levels are so important. The T3 hormone has an active influence on every cell in your body. We’ll just repeat that, because it’s crazy. T3 influences every single cell in your body. Essentially, T3 levels control the metabolism of all your cells, dictating how fast they work. So, if you have too much, your body works at an immense rate. This is Hyperthyroidism, and comes with a whole host of horrendous symptoms. From rapid weight loss and low energy levels to vomiting, shaking, brain fog, and increased heart rate, this condition can be debilitating.
Thyroid Weight Gain
On the other hand, when there’s too little T3, that becomes Hypothyroidism. And, you guessed it, having an underactive thyroid also comes with a whole host of symptoms. These include but are no way limited to low energy levels, exhaustion, poor concentration and depression. And then there’s the thyroid weight gain. Yup, no matter how hard you try to avoid it, there will be some thyroid weight gain. Because that’s how powerful your thyroid can be. In some cases, undiagnosed underactivity can be fatal.
So, keeping your thyroid healthy, or if you have one, managing you thyroid condition, is absolutely key. If you feel that perhaps there’s something going on with your hormones talk to your physician. A blood test and a conversation can go a long way to diagnosing a thyroid problem. Even then, there are things you can be doing to support your treatment and give yourself the best chance of a great recovery
Thyroid Gut Connection
As the thyroid controls the rate at which your cells work, it also controls the rate at which you digest food. That’s the thyroid gut connection, which can lead to some interesting, ahem, intestinal issues. Eating a healthier diet can help alleviate those issues, of course, but there’s an even better reason to healthy-up your diet. Scientists believe we carry around 70 percent of our immune system in our intestines, so eating more fruit and veg has never been more important. We’ve now decided thyroid and gut health will become BFFs. You heard it here first.
In the same way that there’s no such thing as a healthy diet without vegetables, you already know that there’s no such thing as a healthy diet that includes a ton of sugar and processed food. But here’s one you may not know. If you’re going to eat broccoli, cauliflower or Kale make sure you cook them first. Eating those veggies raw can affect how your thyroid functions. Who knew?
Then, of course, there’s exercise. We know that even walking around can be difficult if you’re suffering from any of those aforementioned symptoms. But on your good days, walking around a bit can actually help. And you don’t even have to leave the front room. Something else you probably won’t have to leave your house for is Vitamin D. Yes, we know the sun is outside. But if you work from home or have a long-term condition, it’s a great thyroid-boosting supplement. We swear by it.
We’re not saying we can stop your thyroid from fritzing. We’re not even saying that we can make those symptoms go away. But we are saying that keeping your hormone levels healthy will help keep you healthier. And that’s not too shabs, right?
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