Originally published September 10 2008
How to Regain Control of Your Metabolism
by Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D.
(NaturalNews) Over 20 million Americans are currently diagnosed with some form of thyroid disease, a health problem that impacts every cell in the body and can cause severe weight gain or weight loss, mood disturbances and even infertility in both men and women. While thyroid problems are most common in women, affecting approximately 1 in 8 women between the ages of 35 and 65, men are not immune to thyroid disorders. Common symptoms in men, such as reduced libido, difficulty achieving erection and breast tenderness or enlargement, may be too embarrassing for men to seek medical help and could contribute to the lower instances of thyroid disease recorded in men.
The thyroid gland is located at the base of the neck directly below the Adam's apple. This tiny little gland shaped like a butterfly is responsible for regulating the body's metabolism which is the rate at which the body uses energy by releasing the thyroid hormone T4 (tetra-iodide) into the bloodstream. T4 makes its way to every cell in the body where it is converted to T3 (triiodothyronine), a hormone that controls the rate of cellular metabolism activity. The pituitary gland works in concert with the thyroid by regulating the levels of T3 in the body. When more T3 is needed the pituitary gland sends Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland to stimulate the release of T4 into the bloodstream. When too much thyroid hormone is present the pituitary gland stops sending out TSH and the thyroid stops the production of T4. The process is a delicate balance and if either the pituitary or the thyroid gland is failing to function properly the result will be a body that is not functioning properly.
When the thyroid gland becomes overactive, releasing more hormones than are necessary, the result is hyperthyroidism or Graves Disease which is an autoimmune disease that causes over-activity of the thyroid gland. Hyperthyroidism is most common between the ages of 20 and 40 and affects roughly 1 million Americans today. With hyperthyroid, everything in the body speeds up. When the rate of cellular activity increases, more calories must be consumed to maintain normal energy levels. If the incoming calories fail to be enough then weight loss will occur. Generally, the more severe the hyperthyroid, the more weight loss will result. It is not uncommon, however, for a person with hyperthyroid to gain weight if more calories than necessary are being consumed.
Patients with hyperthyroidism may also experience fatigue, trouble sleeping, increased appetite, trembling hands, irregular heartbeat, irritability and reduced libido. In severe cases, muscle weakness, shortness of breath and chest pain may result. Often however, the symptoms of hyperthyroidism are mild and may occur gradually over a long period of time. Foods that naturally suppress thyroid hormone production are cruciferous vegetables, soybeans, peaches and pears. Have two servings of these foods daily. Carrots, celery, onion and almonds are also beneficial.
Hypothyroidism is a far more common problem, affecting approximately 11 million Americans. The disease can affect both men and women but it is mostly diagnosed in middle-aged women. Hypothyroid is the complete opposite of hyperthyroid. In a patient with hypothyroid the entire metabolism moves at a slower speed and requires less calories than usual to maintain normal energy levels. As a result, the excess calories consumed become stored as fat and weight gain ensues.
Weight gain, while the most common problem associated with hypothyroid, is not the only symptom of an underactive thyroid gland. Other symptoms include low energy levels, depression, irritability, intolerance to heat or cold, decreased heart rate, dry skin and frequent infections, along with decreased sex drive, infertility, hair loss, dry hair and shortness of breath. As with hyperthyroid, it is not uncommon to experience few to no symptoms of this disease.
To combat hypothyroidism, consume foods that contain iodine such as kelp, radish, parsley, potatoes, fish, oatmeal and bananas or look for a supplement that has 150 mg of Iodine. Iodine is needed by the body to form thyroid hormone. Also, copper, iron, selenium and zinc are essential in the production of T3 and T4. Exercise 15-20 minutes per day -- enough to raise the heartbeat.
Diseases of the thyroid can be diagnosed with a simple blood test which evaluates levels of free T3 and free AT4 (TSH) in the bloodstream. Another way to measure this is by taking and recording the basal body temperature under the arm as soon as you wake up for ten minutes, five mornings in a row. The normal axillary temperature is 97.8 – 98.2 degrees F. If the temperature averages 97.4 or less see your physician.
Once a diagnosis of either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism has been ascertained, treatment is aimed at restoring proper levels of the thyroid hormones. With hyperthyroidism this might require surgery or the use of medication. Hypothyroid is usually treated with hormone replacement therapy. In my practice I have found that natural thyroid hormone can be a safe and very successful means of restoring the appropriate levels. For both diseases, restoring proper levels of the thyroid hormone can result in a reversal of symptoms, including a return to prethyroid disease weight.
If you suspect that you might be suffering from a thyroid disorder, see your doctor immediately for an evaluation. Thyroid disease is a serious health problem and one that can be easily treated if properly diagnosed. Call your health care provider today and regain control over your metabolism once and for all!
For products formulated and recommended by Leigh Erin Connealy, MD visit (www.perfectlyhealthy.net) .
About the authorLeigh Erin Connealy, M.D. has specialized in Integrative Medicine for over twenty years, using conventional and natural methods to determine and discover the "root of the cause" in her clinic, Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, each and every day. Many people come in to the clinic from all over the world with severe chronic illnesses that conventional medical protocols have been unsuccessful treating. She realized early on that she can truly change lives through education as well as treatment protocols.
Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. and her medical staff strives to look at the whole person while exploring the effects and relationships among nutrition, psychological and social factors, environmental effects and personal attunement. Out of frustration of trying to find the right products to help her patients she formulated the perfectlyhealthy brand of products. All perfectlyhealthy products are clinically tested. For more information on recommended products, please visit www.perfectlyhealthy.net or www.perfectlyhealthy.com.
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