How often have we come across friends or others whom we know are suffering from Thyroid? Many a time but, largely we are unaware of what Thyroid is except that many of us associate this medical condition with weight gain. It’s not just the weight gain. The purpose of writing this blog is to give you an idea about a lifestyle related condition (Thyroid ) and learn more about the fads and facts surrounding the same.
What is Thyroid Gland?
The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland that is normally located in the lower front of the neck. The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then carried to every tissue in the body. Thyroid hormone helps the body use energy, stay warm and keep the brain, heart, muscles, and other organs working as they should.
Let’s take a look at the relationship between Thyroid, Body Weight and Metabolism. Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating Metabolism in Humans. Metabolism refers to the biochemical processes that occur in living organism to maintain life. Metabolism is determined by the amount of Oxygen used by the body over a period of time. When measurement is made at rest it is referred to as Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Measurement of BMR was the earliest test used to determine functioning of Thyroid. Patients with overactive thyroid gland had high BMR and those with underactive thyroid gland had lower BMR.
Later on measurement of Thyroid Hormones came into picture and it showed that low thyroid hormone levels were associated with low BMRs and high thyroid hormone levels were associated with high BMRs.
Te thyroid hormones, triiodothyromine (T3) and its prohormone-Thyroxine (T4) are produced by thyroid gland that is primarily responsible for regulating metabolism. The most important component for the production of T3 and T4 is Iodine. Deficiency of iodine leads to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges thyroid tissue and leads to a condition known as Goitre. Thyroid hormones are also responsible for proper differentiation and development of cells. They regulate protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamin metabolism providing compounds to human cells.
The two main conditions associated with thyroid are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Hyperthyroidism :- It is the condition were thyroid is extremely overactive and individual’s BMR increases which leads to increased caloric requirements to maintain weight. Person has to increase the caloric intake to match the calories burnt, otherwise weight loss will persist.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) will be decreased in Hypothyroidism. Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism is associated with Low (supressed) TSH level.
Thyroid hormones themselves (T3, T4) will be increased. Most of the people with Hyperthyroidism will have their Thyroid Hormone measuring High.
Symptoms Include: Sudden weight loss, even when your appetite and the amount and type of food you eat remain the same or even increase,Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), Increased appetite, Nervousness, anxiety and irritability, Sweating, Change in menstrual patterns, Increased sensitivity to heat, Changes in bowel patterns, especially more frequent bowel movements, An enlarged thyroid gland (goiter), which may appear as a swelling at the base of your neck, Fatigue, muscle weakness, Difficulty sleeping, Skin thinning, Fine, brittle hair
Tests:-Hyperthyroidism is diagnosed using: Medical History and physical exam, Blood tests, Radioactive Iodine uptake test, Thyroid Scan.
Foods to avoid:- High Glycemic Carbs like Processed grains, such as white flour, sugary sweets, juices, low-fiber cereals, rice and instant potatoes have a high-glycemic value, Goitrogenic Foods like Cruciferous vegetables — such as cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage, soy and millet, a gluten-free grain — contain goitrogens, Unhealthy fats :- Eat fewer red, fried and processed meats and high-fat dairy products, which contain saturated fat, Alcohol and caffeinated products, such as soft drinks, coffee and tea.
Exercises:-Aerobic exercises like dancing, swimming can be included, resistance exercises like pushups and situps are also beneficial. Yoga and Meditation can also be included for calmness and ease anxiety.
Hypothyroididsm:- Due to decrease in BMR, there in increase in weight of an individual.
The cause of weight gain in hypothyroid individuals is also complex, and not always related to excess fat accumulation. Most of the extra weight gained in hypothyroid individuals is due to excess accumulation of salt and water.
Because the body is expecting a certain amount of thyroid hormone the pituitary will make additional thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in an attempt to entice the thyroid to produce more hormone. This constant bombardment with high levels of TSH may cause the thyroid gland to become enlarged and form a Goiter
Symptoms:- Fatigue, Increased sensitivity to cold, Constipation, Dry skin, Unexplained weight gain, Puffy face, Hoarseness, Muscle weakness, Elevated blood cholesterol level, Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness, Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints, Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods, Thinning hair, Slowed heart rate, Depression, Impaired memory.
Tests:-TSH (Thyroid stimulating Hormone) Testing, T4 Testing, Anti-thyroid Microsomal Antibodies Testing.
Foods to avoid:– Soy, Cruciferous Veggies, Fatty Foods, Sugary Foods, Processed Foods, Excess Fiber, Caffeine, Alcohol.
Fats are an important part to your hormone health, as hormones are produced using good fats. Coconut oil is amazing for hormone health. It provides the required building blocks for hormone production. Coconut oil when taken with Balanced Diet helps lower cholesterol by assisting its conversion to pregnenolone, the precusrsorto many hormones. If pregnenolone increased in diet would be very helpful for those with hormonal imbalances.
Cold pressed Virgin Coconut oil :- Coconut Oil is a saturated fat mainly made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCT). MCT’s are known to increase metabolism and promote weight loss. It is very beneficial as it helps in boosting metabolism and also has stimulatory effect on the thyroid. Because thyroid manages metabolism and also causes wide range of symptoms like weight gain, impaired immune function, fatigue, slow healing, cold intolerance etc.
Exercise :- Best Exercises for Hypothyroidism would include One-legged dead lift, Squats, Overhead press or similar vertical push move, Push-up, Lap pull-down or similar vertical pull move, Rowing or similar horizontal pull move.