(NaturalNews) The thyroid gland lies in the neck, just below the Adam`s apple. It produces the hormone thyroxin which controls the rate of metabolism in the body. The thyroid gland is also the body`s internal thermostat; it controls the hormones which control the speed the body burns calories and uses energy. If the thyroid gland under-produces thyroxin, it can slow down all metabolic processes in the body. This can lead to fatigue, weight gain and sensitivity to the cold that many sufferers of low thyroid report. So what are the symptoms of an under active thyroid, and what changes can we make to rebalance it?
Low thyroid can be created by nutrient deficiencies through poor diet and stress. Iodine, zinc, and Vitamins C, B and E are all important for thyroid function. A poor diet may deplete these essential nutrients, and stress can use them up too quickly.
Low levels of active thyroxin can also be created when the body has trouble converting thyroxin into its active form in the body (known as T3). One reason for this can be adrenal fatigue, since the adrenals produce a hormone that converts thyroxin into its active form. The adrenal glands produce a hormone that helps us adapt and deal with stress. They also help control blood sugar; so again, poor diet and excess stress can deplete the adrenal glands, which in turn block active thyroxin.
For this reason it is often important to support the adrenals whilst treating low thyroid function. For adrenal tests and treatment, speak to your practitioner.
Low thyroid can also be created when the body effectively becomes allergic to the thyroid hormone. This is called Hashimoto`s disease. With this condition the immune system has anti-bodies to thyroid and begins to attack the thyroid gland. This condition can be tested for by taking a complete thyroid test which can be offered by your practitioner.
Common symptoms of low thyroid are:
- Extreme fatigue - Intolerance to cold - Mental drowsiness - A slower heart rate - Thinning hair - Constipation - Dry swollen skin - Low libido - Weight gain even with a poor appetite - And heavier periods for women - Depression - Muscle weakness
Low thyroid has also been associated with:
- High cholesterol - Candida - Chronic fatigue - Fibromyalgia
Cut out the following foods:
- Sugar and all refined carbohydrates in food and drinks as they create blood sugar imbalances, which contribute to adrenal stress, which can in turn lead to low thyroid function.
- Cut out processed and refined foods as they can contain chemicals which can deplete the body of nutrients needed for proper thyroid function
- Avoid excess amounts of Soya products as it is a goitrogen and can lower thyroid function
- Avoid excess amounts of the following goitrogenic foods: millet, turnips, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, peanuts, pine nuts and mustard. Note: cooking can reduce the goitrogens in these foods.
Increase the following foods:
- Eat foods rich in iodine which include seaweeds such as kelp, kombu, armae, dulse, swiss chard, organic minced beef, organic egg yolk, lecithin granules, sesame seed butter, artichokes, onions, garlic and nuts and seeds
- Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc and Vitamin B are all important nutrients for the thyroid, so include the following foods in your diet: fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, avocados, poultry, whole grains and eggs
- Exercise is particularly important in treating low thyroid. Exercise stimulates thyroid secretions. A low to moderate intensity program for a minimum of 20 minutes three times per week is ideal. Exercise could include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, dancing or aerobics classes
- Minimizing stress is also advisable as it can compromise digestion and create nutrient deficiencies which can lead to a lowered thyroid function. Regular relaxation like taking hot baths, walking in nature, massage, meditation, gentle yoga or tai chi would be useful.
Alex Howard is author of "WHY ME? My Journey from M.E. to Health and Happiness" and founder of The Optimum Health Clinic, an award winning clinic specialising in M.E./C.F.S./Fibromyalgia based in Harley Street Clinic, London, UK. The clinic has treated over 5,000 patients with M.E./Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia in over twenty-five countries around the world, and is currently running a two year clinical trial in conjunction with two top universities. A free information pack, including a 75 documentary about the clinic and its work, can be ordered from www.FreedomFromME.co.uk