What Is The Thyroid, How Does It Relate To Weight Loss, & More
Next Health Staff | | 0 comments
Questions such as “Why can I never lose weight,” “Why am I significantly more tired than I used to be,” and “Why can’t I think as clearly as I used to,” are some of the most common concerns when patients speak to their primary care physician. Often, lab results usually come back “normal” and patients are told these symptoms are just part of the aging process.
However, these symptoms are commonly due to thyroid dysfunction but this organ rarely receives the attention it deserves when it comes to our health.
What Is The Thyroid?
The thyroid is a small gland located in the neck that impacts nearly every bodily system and function. This is because the thyroid produces hormones that, in short, affect how your cells utilize energy and the speed at which processes are carried out. As a result, the thyroid is often compared to the “gas pedal” of the body that dictates how fast or slow systems function. Some aspects of health most influenced by the thyroid are metabolism, mood, and weight. However, systems such as the heart, brain, gut, and beyond are also affected by thyroid function.
What Happens When My Thyroid Does Not Function Properly?
Unfortunately, thyroid dysfunction is increasingly common. In fact, experts hypothesize that there are approximately 750 million people globally affected by thyroid dysfunction with up to 60% being undiagnosed. This condition affects women at much higher rates than men as one in eight women will suffer from some form of thyroid dysfunction in their lifetime.
The most common form of thyroid dysfunction is hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), which means the body’s cells are not receiving enough thyroid hormones and are carrying out processes too slowly.
This can cause symptoms such as weight gain, hair loss, chronic fatigue, brain fog (sometimes called thyro-fog), insomnia, mood swings, headaches, menstrual irregularities, changes in skin and/or nail quality, and more.
There are other forms of thyroid dysfunction including:
- Hyperthyroidism: overactive thyroid, characterized by weight loss, anxiety, rapid heartbeat
- Graves’ disease: autoimmune disorder of the thyroid in which the body produces too many antibodies (thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins). This typically results in a state of hyperthyroidism.
- Hashimoto’s disease: autoimmune disorder of the thyroid in which the body’s immune system wrongly identifies proteins in the thyroid gland as foreign. This results in fluctuating between states of hypo and hyperthyroidism.
Diagnosing Thyroid Dysfunction
Because the symptoms of hypothyroidism are so wide-ranging, it often difficult to diagnose a thyroid disorder. Unfortunately, standard thyroid testing can make it even more difficult to receive proper treatment as standard testing misses approximately 80% of low thyroid cases.
This is because insurance often only covers testing TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). TSH is considered the “gold standard” test by many endocrinologists, but there is no consensus on the appropriate reference range for this test. Some endocrinologists consider any number within the reference range (it’s around .40 to 4.0 mlU/L at many US labs) “normal,” and others state that TSH must be as high as 10 mlU/L.
Moreover, this “gold standard” test does not consider the levels of Free T4 and Free T3 — the actual circulating thyroid hormones, nor the antibodies that detect autoimmune thyroid disease (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis). Therefore, patients may be experiencing suboptimal levels of T3 and T4 (meaning bodily systems are not receiving enough thyroid hormone), yet if TSH is within the reference range, the endocrinologist may say it’s “normal.”
That is why Next Health offers comprehensive thyroid testing. The Next Health Thyroid Test measures all thyroid-related biomarkers to diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, hypothyroidism (under active), hyperthyroidism (overractive), iodine deficiency, and other signs of thyroid dysfunction.
To proactively check the status of your thyroid with our Thyroid Lab Test, click here. This test does not just test your TSH levels, but also T3 and T4.
Taking Control of Your Thyroid Health
In addition to testing the health of your thyroid and medicating accordingly, there are also steps you can take in your daily life to take care of your thyroid:
- Make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs: Low levels of iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, B vitamins, and iodine can potentially lead to thyroid issues. You can test your micronutrient levels here
- Practice stress relief: High-stress levels lead to the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can suppress the release of thyroid hormones. To learn more stress-relieving activities that promote overall wellness, click here
- Avoid fluoride and environmental toxins: Fluoride disrupts thyroid hormones and can impact the overall function of the thyroid. Other toxins such as heavy metal toxins have been linked to thyroid dysfunction as environmental toxins are considered endocrine disruptors.
- Avoid goitrogenic foods: Goitrogens are substances that occur naturally in certain foods that can cause the thyroid gland to enlarge, which is called a goiter. Goitrogenic foods can also function like an anti-thyroid drug, slowing down the thyroid and making it underactive. The main goitrogenic foods are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, among others, as well as soy foods.
- Exercise regularly: Exercise is excellent for endocrine health as it can help balance essential hormones such as thyroid hormones, cortisol, insulin, sex hormones, and more.
- Prioritize sleep: Sleep is critical for hormonal health as it helps regulate hormones such as thyroid hormones and cortisol, which in turn regulate other bodily functions.
Next-Level Thyroid Support
The thyroid is an integral component of health and many of us require support to address such an important issue. If you are looking for a personalized plan to target your thyroid and metabolic health, our medical experts are here to help.
Our experienced team will empower you to take control of your health with our data-driven approach to your wellness journey.
Ready to feel like your healthiest self? Call or text us at: 310-295-2075