Small But Mighty: The Amazing Thyroid

thyroid health Jan 25, 2021

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits near the front of your throat.  In a healthy individual you would never really notice it being there.  Its job is to create hormones that help to regulate your body's metabolism.  It also plays a role in your immune function, affecting levels of sex hormones in your system, energy levels and much more.

Many of us have heard about the autoimmune disorders called Hashimoto's disease and Graves' disease.  Both are the result of a thyroid gland that is either not working hard enough or working too hard, respectively.  It all has to do with how much thyroid hormone is being produced.  Not enough leads to Hashimoto's (hypothyroidism) and too much leads to Graves' (hyperthyroidism).

A third condition that can develop in the thyroid gland is Goiter.  This is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland because of insufficient iodine in the diet.  Sources of iodine in the diet could include sea vegetables and wild-caught fish like tuna, shrimp, and salmon.  You can also source iodine from using iodized salt, however, I would suggest that a better salt source would be Celtic Sea Salt.  It may not have the iodine, but it is worth the tradeoff due to the many minerals it will provide in your diet.  Stay tuned for a blog post exclusively devoted to Celtic Sea Salt.

How would you know if you are experiencing any issues with your thyroid gland?  One test that you can do in the privacy of your own home is the basal temperature test. All you do is over the next three days:

  1. Upon awakening, place a thermometer in the axilla (that would be your armpit).
  2. Wait 10 minutes if using a mercury thermometer or till it beeps if using a digital.
  3. If your temp is 97.2 or less, suspect hypothyroid. It should be 97.8 to be considered normal.

If you find that your temperature registers 97.2 or less, you should mention this to your doctor.  It is not necessarily a diagnostic test, but it could be a way to do an early screen for possible issues down the road that could lead to Hashimoto's disease.

If you are concerned about your thyroid gland overworking you may be experiencing symptoms such as: weight loss, insomnia, heart palpitations and others. 

If you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, there are a few things that you can do for yourself when it comes to your diet. 

First, 20-25% of your diet should include complex carbohydrates - those are the ones that come from whole foods and take a longer time for your body to digest.  Things like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.   

Second, fermented foods will support gut health which in turn will support thyroid health.  There is a strong connection between the hormones produced in your gut and the hormones produced in your thyroid.  They depend upon each other for your body to function at its optimal level.  So, by supporting the gut with fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha it will help a well-functioning system.

Third, be aware of thyroid disruptors that are present in our environment.  Things like BPA - often found in plastic containers where it can leach into the food or beverage you consume, products laden with pesticides and chlorine.  Another environmental factor would be the heavy metals found in our foods - fish can have mercury and rice can have arsenic, to name two.

Knowledge is power.  And now that you have a little information you can make more educated choices in your life about the things you put into and onto your body.  If you feel that you may be suffering from some sort of thyroid issue, I would urge you to check in with your primary physician.  And if you have any questions or comments for me, please reach out and let's connect.

Thank you SHAPE ReClaimed & Institute of Integrative Nutrition as sources for this post.

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