We all know how essential it is to pay attention to our bodies and keep an eye out for any signs that something might be wrong. One often-overlooked area that deserves our attention is the thyroid gland, a small organ with a big role to play in our overall health and well-being.
You might be wondering, “What exactly does the thyroid do, and why should I be concerned about it?” Well, my friends, that’s precisely what we’re here to discuss. In this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the fascinating world of thyroid health and explore the early warning signs that your thyroid might be sending your way.
So sit back, relax, and let’s find out what are early warning signs of thyroid problems. Trust me, your thyroid will thank you!
Meet Your Thyroid
Your thyroid is a small but mighty endocrine gland that sits in the front of the neck, straddling the windpipe. It mainly produces thyroid hormone that impacts many aspects of metabolism including energy, body composition, skin, hair, and nail growth.
Thyroid hormone is called the “master metabolite” because of the extensive role it plays in all aspects of metabolism. Nutrition is especially important since the thyroid relies on multiple nutrients to produce and activate thyroid hormones.
Over the past couple of decades, there’s been an increasing trend in thyroid disease, and many cases are missed and not appropriately identified.
Many people experiencing symptoms like unexplained weight gain, hair loss, constipation, and irregular periods – to name a few – report feeling dismissed after incomplete screening for thyroid dysfunction.
This is because the guidelines for evaluating thyroid are outdated and lack adequate sensitivity to identify thyroid problems early and before they progress significantly.
Thyroid dysfunction is critical to catch as early as possible to prevent excess damage and loss of function. However, the basic labs that are part of thyroid evaluation guidelines often lead to missed and misdiagnoses. To understand why, let’s review how thyroid hormones are made, activated, and used.
How Thyroid Hormone Works
The pituitary gland releases Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to tell the thyroid gland to make T4 hormone. When there’s not enough T4 in circulation to meet demand, TSH levels rise and trigger the thyroid gland to make more T4. When T4 levels are high, TSH levels fall, slowing down T4 production.
Keep in mind that T4 is not the active form of thyroid hormone. It needs to be activated to T3. Once operational, the hormone can engage with receptors (like a key opening a lock) on cells all over the body when needed to increase metabolism.
We also need protein carriers – called Thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) – to carry T4 and T3 to the cells that need them. So sufficient thyroid activity is dependent on active T3 levels, the right amount of transportation proteins (TBG), and good receptor sensitivity.
Factors That Reduce Production Of Thyroid Hormone
• Fluoride, bromide, chloride
• Toxins (pesticides, mercury, lead)
• Nutrient deficiencies, insufficiencies, imbalances
• Oxidative stress
Factors that Improve T4 Production
• Optimal levels of iron, iodine, tyrosine, zinc, selenium & other antioxidants, vitamins C, D, E, B2, B3, B6
• Increased antioxidants
• Optimized digestion & microbiome
Factors that Improve T4 to T3 Conversion
• Optimize selenium, zinc, vitamins A & E
• Reducing stress
• Anti-inflammatory diet
• Improve insulin sensitivity and liver health
Factors That Improve Cellular Sensitivity To Thyroid Hormone
• Vitamin A
What Are The Early Warning Signs Of Thyroid Problems
- Unexplained weight changes/difficulty losing weight
- Water retention, bloating (sometimes associated with notable rounding of the face)
- Mentally sluggish, low motivation
- Difficulty focusing, memory issues
- Easily overwhelmed (even with regular tasks/workload)
- Abnormal pulse
- Intolerance to cold/always feeling cold (cold hands/feet), poor circulation
- Hair loss, coarse or dry/brittle hair
- Loss of outer ⅓ of eyebrow
- Depression, anxiety
- Changes in menstrual cycle/change in flow viscosity (if menstruating)
- Low vitamin D levels
- Inadequate intake of protein, or poor digestion
- History of iron deficiency anemia or low ferritin
- Low mineral intake, especially trace minerals such as selenium, iodine, and zinc
- Low Vitamin C intake
- Low intake of vitamin B-rich foods, especially B2, B3 (niacin), and B6
- Inadequate intake of beta-carotene or vitamin A
- Inadequate intake of vitamin E
- Unresolved stress, burnout (inconsistent stress modification habits)
- Excess intake of caffeine to compensate for exhaustion/fatigue
- Low exercise tolerance, sedentary lifestyle
Do You Need A Thyroid Tune-Up
Concerned about your thyroid health? The information above shows you that if you’ve only completed basic labs, there’s value in better labs, total nutrition, and lifestyle assessment.
Before jumping to additional testing or while awaiting lab results, you may choose to see how your body responds by completing a 30 Day Thyroid Tune-Up. Why tune-up?
We know what nourishes the thyroid and your body. The 30-Day Thyroid Tune-Up will help identify opportunities to upgrade choices, get support, and with the results help us determine the best investment(s) of your resources as the next steps to optimizing thyroid health.
The goal of a Thyroid Tune-Up is to provide support with nutrition and lifestyle choices to see how your body responds. This helps us better personalize your protocol whether that includes additional labs, dietary and lifestyle interventions, supplements, and medications.
The 30 Day Thyroid Tune-up
1. Nutrient optimization
• Rainbow (includes brown/white foods) focusing on antioxidants like beta-carotene, selenium, and vitamin C to specifically support thyroid production and activation.
• Balanced amino acid intake, mainly focusing on essential amino acids needed for the production of thyroid, glutathione, and liver/detoxification support.
• Sources of minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium, and iodine to maximize availability for thyroid activity
• Optimize vitamin D levels through diet, regular sunlight exposure, and supplementation
• Ensure effective hydration and electrolyte balance (potassium/sodium).
• Optimize your caloric window – meal timing to ensure blood sugar balance and avoid excessive intermittent fasting windows that stress hormones.
2. Ingredients to reduce or remove
• Artificial colors
• Sweeteners (artificial and “natural”)
• Remove gluten, and replace with better quality gluten-free choices (not highly processed, refined products) like whole gluten-free grains, legumes, and colorful root veggies
• Minimize or avoid alcohol
• Minimize or avoid caffeine (especially if experiencing anxiety and/or insomnia)
3. Support digestion and regular motility
4. Evaluate your blood sugar levels to determine when, why, and how often you are out of range.
5. Identify and address elevated stress regularly throughout the day via stress management techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling.
6. Improve sleep consistency, quantity, and quality by incorporating better sleep hygiene habits to reset the circadian rhythm.
7. Regular exercise can improve thyroid sensitivity/efficiency. That’s why finding the balance between regular movement that doesn’t cause excess stress/fatigue is important.
In this article, we’ve covered a lot of ground, and it’s time to wrap it all up. We’ve journeyed from understanding what the thyroid is and how it works, to uncovering the factors that can reduce thyroid hormone production and those that help optimize T4 production and T4 to T3 conversion.
It’s the unsung hero, regulating metabolism, energy levels, and so much more. Understanding its functions is key to recognizing when something might be amiss.
We also dove into the factors that can put a damper on thyroid function. Stress, nutrient deficiencies, and environmental toxins are just a few culprits that can lead to reduced thyroid hormone production.
But it’s not all doom and gloom! We discussed factors that support healthy thyroid function, like a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, regular exercise, and stress management techniques. These can aid in both T4 production and the conversion of T4 to the active form, T3.
Of course, we didn’t forget to shed light on the early warning signs of thyroid problems – those little red flags your body might be waving at you. Fatigue, weight changes, mood swings, and changes in hair and skin are just a few signals that your thyroid might need some extra attention.
Lastly, we introduced you to a 30-day thyroid tune-up plan, designed to help you nourish and support your thyroid for optimal health. It’s a simple yet effective way to kickstart your journey toward thyroid wellness.
In conclusion, your thyroid is a tiny powerhouse that plays a massive role in your well-being. By staying vigilant for the early warning signs, understanding the factors that affect thyroid function, and committing to a 30-day tune-up when needed, you can keep this vital organ humming along happily.
Your thyroid deserves a little TLC, and with the knowledge you’ve gained, you’re well-equipped to give it just that. Here’s to a healthier, happier thyroid and a healthier, happier you!
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***Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice***