Feeling fatigued? Mentally and physically exhausted? Sluggish? Experiencing brain fog? Struggling to lose weight? Noticing your hair thinning or falling out? These are all signs that you should investigate your thyroid function.
The thyroid gland plays a crucial role in metabolic functions by producing hormones that control metabolism, energy production, and cellular growth. These processes are regulated by thyrotrophin-releasing hormone (TRH) which is secreted by the hypothalamus to activate thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). The pituitary gland is then responsible for the secretion of TSH to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronne (T3).
The precursors for thyroid hormone production include tyrosine and iodine. Zinc is a cofactor required in facilitating the uptake of thyroid hormones and favorably affects T3. The conversion of T4 to its active form T3, is also dependent on selenium. Therefore, optimal thyroid function depends on sufficient amounts of precursors (iodine, tyrosine) and cofactors (selenium, zinc) for healthy thyroid hormone production. This process can be compromised during times of heightened stress or anxiety, autoimmunity, nutritional deficiencies, or disturbances to hormonal production (hello, thyroid dysfunction).
Clinical Presentations of Thyroid Dysfunction
Hyperthyroid (i.e. overactive thyroid which accelerates metabolic function)
- Increased basal metabolic rate
- Unexplained weight loss
- Heat intolerance
- Increased appetite
- Decreased cholesterol
- Increased cardiac output/heart palpitations
Hypothyroid (i.e. underactive thyroid which slows down metabolic processes)
- Cold intolerance
- Unexplained weight gain
- Mental/physical sluggishness
- Dull/dry skin
- Increased cholesterol levels
- Decreased cardiac output
- Thinning/loss of hair
- Brain fog
- Loss of outer 1⁄3 of eyebrows
Common Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction
- Psychological stress/emotional imbalance
- Nutritional deficiencies (e.g. iodine, vitamin D)
- Exposure to environmental toxins
- Chronic illness/infection
- Mitochondrial dysfunction (i.e. insulin resistance, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome)
- Gut dysfunction (i.e. coeliac disease, leaky gut, increased intestinal permeability)
- Excess fasting/calorie restriction
Test, don’t guess. When it comes to testing, obtaining a pathology report can provide clear insight into the function of your thyroid. A general blood test through your general practitioner via a thyroid panel (including TSH, T4, T3, FT4, rT3, and thyroid antibodies) is recommended. Thyroid antibodies are only raised in the presence of an autoimmune condition (i.e. Hashimoto’s disease or Graves disease).
You may be resonating with some of the signs and symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, and may be wondering where you can start. Let's go through some of the basics you can begin with.
Consume Nutrients Required for Thyroid Health:
- Selenium: brazil nuts, seafood, tuna, crab, and lobster
- Iodine: seaweed, seafood, and eggs
- Zinc: oysters, liver-rich foods (pate, organic beef liver), whole-grains, pumpkin seeds, and nuts
- Tyrosine: chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds
- Vitamin A, C, E, zinc, selenium, NAC, CoQ10, and essential fatty acids
- Enjoy sweet potatos, carrots, spinach, dandelion greens, eggs, pawpaw, oranges, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, grapefruit, berries, avocado, fatty fish, oysters, and walnuts
- Avoid gluten and dairy due to their pro-inflammatory effects
- Consume low GI foods, good quality fish oil, and coloured berries
- Enjoy goitrogen foods cooked, not raw. Dietary goitrogens including raw brassica foods (think: cabbage, kale, turnip, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts), millet, soy, and catechins from tea interfere with the uptake of iodine and thyroid hormone production. Cooking these types of foods assists in deactivating the goitrogen content.
Support Mental Wellbeing and Incorporate Mindfulness Activities:
- Incorporating daily practices to support mental health and reduce stress are essential for maintaining optimal thyroid/hormonal health. Consider guided meditations, deep belly breathing, yoga, tai chi, and breathwork
Cold Water Therapy:
- Cold hydrotherapy has been known to support metabolic function, reduce inflammation, improved immune function and alleviate symptoms associated with autoimmune conditions.
- Opt for a morning ocean swim, ice baths, one to two minutes of cold exposure in the shower or cold water immersion on your face upon rising in the morning
- Avoid environmental chemicals/toxins, endocrine disrupting chemicals such as plastics, chlorinated and fluoridated drinking water, and smoking. Choose glass/reusable bottles and filtered water.
If you want support investigating your thyroid health, feel free to reach out to Tayla. Based on your clinical presentation, Tayla will be able to create a treatment plan with individualized nutritional and lifestyle recommendations, as well as additional testing/pathology if necassary in order to support your health needs.
Get in Touch with Tayla
Book A Consultation: https://curawellness.co/pages/book-now
Tayla is an accredited clinical Naturopath based in Northern NSW, Australia, and is the face behind Cura Wellness. Tayla's approach to health is holistic by uniting traditional naturopathic principles and practices with modern evidence-based research. She has a special interest in gut health, mental health, skin, hormones, women's health, immune health and general wellness optimisation.
Gessl, A., Lemmens-Gruber, R., & Kautzky-Willer, A. (2012). Thyroid disorders. Handbook of experimental pharmacology, (214), 361–386. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-30726-3_17
Pizzorno JE Jr., Murray MT, Joiner-Bey H, 2016, The Clinician’s Handbook of Natural Medicine, 3rdedn. Churchill Livingstone- Elsevier, St. Louis, Missouri
Sarris, J., & Wardle, J. (2019). Clinical naturopathy: An evidence-based guide to practice, 3rd edn. Elsevier, Chatswood NSW
The Australian Thyroid Foundation. (2021). Thyroid Facts – Definitions, Australia, viewed 19 July. Retrieved from https://www.thyroidfoundation.org.au/Definitions