According to medical data, thyroid disorder is the new global epidemic affecting over 30 million people in the US alone, half of which are still undetected. This accounts for a striking 12% of the American population. And approximately 430 million are affected with a thyroid disorder worldwide.
Unfortunately, this disorder is usually mistaken for something else as its symptoms are very similar to those of other health conditions.
The most common cause of thyroid dysfunction is iodine deficiency. Although iodine is normally obtained from the food we eat, we still get a little of it in our diet. Utilizing food for thyroid health is the simplest solution to getting this organ to function properly again, even though this may seem deceptively simple.
10 Symptoms of Thyroid Malfunction
- Weakness: Constant fatigue in spite of the amount of rest you get.
- Poor Sleep Quality: Not being able to sleep or feeling constantly sleepy.
- Mood Swings: Feelings of sadness or anxiety.
- Appetite Changes: Varying food inclinations or altered taste.
- Brain Fog: Not being able to think or difficulties with basic cognition.
- Bowel Discomfort: Bloating, gas, constipation, or bowel looseness.
- Temperature Sensitivity: You feel excessively hot or excessively cold all the time.
- Chronic Pain: Joint or muscle pain for no specific reason.
- Reproductive Issues: Sterility, miscarriages, or premature births.
- Menstrual Changes: Increased or reduced cramps, flow, or duration of periods.
What Does Your Thyroid Do for You?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped organ located in the base of your neck. The hormones it secretes – thyroxine (T-4) and triiodothyronine (T-3) – are responsible for your proper digestive function, body temperature, and blood pressure.
Although this endocrine gland is small, it performs a major function in the body. Basically, it affects every bodily function due to the fact that each cell and organ in your body depends on thyroid hormones.
When the thyroid produces an excess of hormones, it’s overactive, and this condition, though less common, is called hyperthyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism can trigger unexplained weight loss, unsteadiness, inability to unwind, lack of concentration, hypertension, weakness, increased appetite, nail, skin, and hair weakening, intolerance to heat, heart disease, sleep irregularity, and irritability.
On the other hand, when the thyroid secretes fewer hormones than needed, it’s underactive or sluggish, and then we are talking of hypothyroidism, which has a greater incidence.
Although hypothyroidism symptoms may seem benign at first, they worsen in time. For one thing, thyroid hormone deficiency results in exhaustion, discouragement, weight gain, joint pain, intolerance to cold, muscle weakness, heart disease, poor memory and focus, and last, but not least, hair, skin, and nail deterioration.
Furthermore, Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disorder when your immune system loses its proper function and produces antibodies to attack your thyroid tissue.
Consequently, your thyroid function soon becomes compromised. Most of the patients suffering from hypothyroidism test positive for these antibodies. Therefore, it’s vital to maintain your immune system strong in order to prevent these antibodies from damaging your thyroid.
Your thyroid is stimulated by signs from your brain – the hypothalamus, and its function to produce hormones or to hold back is regulated by your pituitary gland. Thyroid dysfunction can lead to serious consequences upon your overall health.
Normal Causes of Thyroid Malfunction
- Deficiency in iodine or other nutrient.
- Graves is a genetic infection of the immune system that increases thyroid hormone secretion.
- Plummer’s disease leads to formation of benign lumps that increase thyroid hormone secretion.
- Pregnancy can trigger thyroid malfunction.
- Thyroiditis is an inflammation that causes abundance of thyroid hormone to flood the blood.
- Physical, mental, or emotional anxiety may also affect your thyroid function.
- Environmental toxins lead to thyroid malfunction too.
This condition affects people of all ages, including adults, children, and newborns. When babies are treated early, they respond well; poor mental development is also prevented in such cases.
There are a few synthetic hormones available which can improve your thyroid health. In fact, thyroid hormone supplements are the fourth mostly sold therapy in the US. However, most patients need to have a thyroid that doesn’t function for these synthetic supplements to work.
So, it’s much more important to prevent your thyroid health.
5 Best Foods for Thyroid Health
- Cranberries and cranberry juice
- Seaweed and seafood (scallops, shrimp, sardines, salmon, and tuna)
- Baked potatoes (with skin)
- Yogurt, eggs, and cheese
- Coconut oil
5 Worst Foods for Thyroid Health
- Refined sugar
- Sodas, alcohol, or excessive coffee
- Soy products
- Refined gluten grains
- Hydrogenated oils (avoid processed or fast foods)
At the moment, unfortunately, there isn’t a solution for autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s, which severely damage the thyroid leading to conditions like hypothyroidism. Most autoimmune conditions require careful consideration of diet and lifestyle choices in order to slow down the progression as well as to relieve the symptoms.
Keeping your thyroid health reflects on your overall health. As all the systems in your body are connected, they depend on one another for proper function. And, that’s not all, because food beneficial for your thyroid health is also good for your heart, gut, and brain.