Are you tired, feeling stressed, run down, and can’t lose weight? Before you dismiss these symptoms as old age or just par for the course of a busy life, consider this, it may be your thyroid. Losing or maintaining a healthy weight is all about calories in versus calories out. Well, provided that everything else is normal. And by everything else, I mean everything else. Our hormones and other systems have to be functioning properly in order for the calories in/out equation to work. If you’ve been doing all of the right things, but still not seeing results, your thyroid could be the culprit.
The Thyroid-Metabolism Connection
We know that metabolism is about how many calories we burn. The faster the metabolism, the more calories burned. The slower the metabolism, the more calories get stored as fat. The thyroid is the gland in charge of managing our metabolism. It’s a small gland shaped like a butterfly located in our neck. The thyroid sends hormones into the body to control energy use and digest food. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly the body doesn’t receive the message to speed up or slow down calorie consumption. Many people who are unable to lose weight along with feeling fatigued, sleepless, and even depressed may be suffering from hypothyroidism. Essentially, this is a slow thyroid. It can be caused by genetics, injury, cancer, or even lifestyle.
The primary test for thyroid functioning is the TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) test. Physicians also tend to use free T4 (thyroxine), free T4 index, or total T4. In this case, free refers to what is floating around in your blood at the time of the test. TSH is produced by the pituitary gland. When blood flows through this gland it’s testing for levels of T4. If the pituitary gland feels the levels of T4 are too low, it will send a message in the form of TSH telling the thyroid to produce more. Your doctor will take a look the results of the test, family history, take a personal medical history, and perform a physical exam to help make a diagnosis. Because thyroid disorders are so often misdiagnosed or missed you will want to see a specialty doctor. Many general practitioners or internist may rely solely on the blood tests. The best type of doctor to see for an accurate diagnosis is an endocrinologist. They are specially trained to diagnose and treat hormonal and biochemical conditions, such as type I and II diabetes. It can be a tricky diagnosis because the TSH and T4 levels can be off for any number of reasons. Beware any physician that diagnoses you with or without hypothyroidism without a thorough work-up. Get a second opinion!
There are medications to help with hypothyroidism. But it takes time and potentially many adjustments to get the dosage right. This is why working with an endocrinologist is ideal. If the hypothyroidism was caused by an illness, chances are it will return to normal once the illness has passed. Otherwise, there are multiple doctor visits and blood tests to ensure the medication is helping the thyroid function properly. This treatment could potentially go on for years.
Using Nature’s Farmacy to Combat Hypothyroidism
There are natural remedies that haven’t been proven in clinical trials to work, but it hasn’t been proven they don’t work. Food is nature’s Farmacy. Provided there is nothing physically wrong with your thyroid, such as a tumor, lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on thyroid functioning. Of course, regular exercise, stress reduction, and sleep will help reduce the load on the body. You don’t want the thyroid working harder than it has to. But diet may be the key to keeping a thyroid healthy and happy. Here are some foods believed to help combat hypothyroidism by potentially kicking it into action. Don’t worry non-meat eaters, I’ve identified substitutes:
- Apples – they are rich in pectin which flushes toxins out of the body. An apple a day will keep the doctor away. Organic apple cider vinegar is a good substitute or supplement. Add 1-2 teaspoons in a cup of warm water first thing the morning. You can add a dash of raw local honey for flavor (avoid the honey in the bear bottle).
- Seaweed – this sea plant contains massive amounts of iodine which is like gasoline for the thyroid. Iodine is also found in regular table salt. People who are low-sodium diets may also develop hypothyroidism. 1 or 2 servings of seaweed or sushi a week may be enough to get the job done. Can’t find seaweed? Mushrooms are a good substitute.
- Brazil nuts – these nuts contain selenium which is needed to convert T4 into T3, the active state of the hormone. It’s also helpful in reducing inflammation, a condition that impacts thyroid function.
- Chicken – contains tyrosine, an amino acid. This is the building blocks of many hormones in our body, especially thyroid hormones and dopamine. Tyrosine can also be found in green leafy vegetables if you’re not a meat-eater. Chicken has the extra added benefit of being rich in B12, a vitamin lacking in those with hypothyroidism.
- Yogurt – the vitamin D content can be helpful as a lack of it has been linked to obesity. Plus yogurt contains probiotics to help balance out the gut. If you’re vegan, look to other sources for vitamin D such good old fashion sun or a supplement. There are good probiotic supplements on the market, but they can also be found in any fermented food/beverage such as pickles or kombucha. Check the label. Anything that has been pasteurized will not contain probiotics and look out for added sugars that act against the purpose of probiotics.
- Salmon – for its high omega-3 content that may encourage the thyroid to burn more fat. Not into animals? Opt for walnuts or avocado instead.
- Green Tea – this common drink has long been linked with weight loss due to its natural metabolism boost. The secret sauce is its high content of catechins, an antioxidant that triggers the release of fat and increases the liver’s capacity to burn it. Take it straight, no sugar to reap the benefits.
- Garlic – can help control fat levels in the blood. Not only is it a natural antibiotic, it also helps control blood pressure and inflammation.
- Dark Chocolate – this tasty treat is thought to help reduce the levels of stress hormone that can slow the metabolism and fat-burning mechanisms.
- Lentils – a legume that is high in iron gives your body energy in general. When you are properly energized the thyroid doesn’t have to make up for fatigue.
- Broccoli – is high in both calcium and vitamin C. Together these boost your metabolic rate. This powerhouse vegetable can also shut off cancer genes causing cancer cells to die.
- Hot peppers – are high in capsaicin a compound long considered to boost metabolism significantly.
Weight loss can be frustrating, especially when we do the right things but don’t see the results. Don’t give up. Finding a physician who believes in a balanced approach to health is one of your best allies. Please share this post, mention #BlackEVEolution, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. We know you’re looking for more great content like this. Connect with us now to receive original and informative content that will help you be healthy, wealthy, wise and woke.