Hypothyroidism refers to low function of the thyroid, a hormone producing gland located ,in front of the neck and regulates the metabolism of the body, it’s similar to an internal fire that keeps you moving.
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So how do you know if your thyroid is slow?
If your thyroid slows down, so do you, and this may cause depression, constipation, weight gain, cold sensitivity, infertility, poor memory, fatigue and a diminished sex drive. Signs that your doctor may also look for is losing the outer third of your eyebrow, cracked heels and/or a diminished Achilles reflex.
Can you get it tested?
Visit your doctor who will test your TSH, that’s short for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. Commonly people are told their values are OK because the range is so broad however as a Naturopathic Doctor my range is very narrow because I look at a person’s optimal levels so that I can determine why they feel the way they do. Most importantly though you have to determine why you have low thyroid function in the first place. There are many more tests that allow me to discover the root cause, here are a few of them.
1. The presence of Thyroperoxidase Antibodies in your blood suggests that the cause of thyroid disease is an autoimmune disorder, such as Hashimoto's disease or Graves' disease. In autoimmune disorders, your immune system makes antibodies that mistakenly attack normal tissue
2.Thyroglobulin is a protein found in thyroid cells. Antithyroglobulin antibody testing is used in the evaluation for thyroid problems. RT3 is a metabolite of T4 (thyroxine).
3. Reverse T3 is a metabolite of the T4 thyroid molecule. In contrast to T3 that goes to the cells and stimulates energy and metabolism, Reverse T3 is actually an "antithyroid. Reverse T3 is a mirror image of T3 and it binds to the same receptors, sticks there, and nothing happens. So it blocks the thyroid effect. Elevated RT3 can be triggered by ongoing chronic physical or emotional stress, adrenal fatigue, low ferritin (stored iron) levels, acute illness and injury, and chronic disease.
What can you do?
Iodine is an element that is needed for the production of thyroid hormone. The body does not make iodine, so it is an essential part of your diet. A deficiency used to be very common hence there was the introduction of iodized table salt however if you are avoiding table salt altogether or favouring sea salt and Himalayan salt you may need to consider various foods to increase your iodine intake. Sea Vegetables like Kelp and Seaweed are rich in Iodine. As are cranberries, yogurt and eggs. You can supplement with Iodine, however, if you have autoimmune issues related to your thyroid such as Hashimoto's, high levels of iodine might aggravate your thyroid, hence it is so important to speak with your family doctor and naturopathic doctor about your health before taking something.
Trace minerals such as zinc, copper, iron and selenium are also very important for the function of the thyroid. Consider including pumpkin seeds for Zinc, two Brazil Nuts a day for Selenium, incorporating mineral sea salt, and for those prone to anemia, fortifying your foods through an iron pan or increasing your intake of Meats.
You have to avoid Goitrogenic foods which are substances that suppress the thyroid gland by interfering with thyroid hormone production. Eating too many of these foods in their raw state is the only way in which they interfere with the thyroid and therefore its important to slightly steam or cook them at times to reduce their impact. These foods include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, millet, spinach, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc.
Exercise stimulates thyroid gland secretion and increases tissue sensitivity to thyroid hormone and therefore its essential for individuals that are suffering from low thyroid function. Exercise daily for 30 – 60 minutes.