What is a Thyroid?
The thyroid gland is one of the most important regulating organs in the entire body. Located in the neck region, this small butterfly-shaped organ regulates functions such as your body’s metabolism, energy levels, muscle strength, brain function, kidney functions, and food cravings.
When thyroid levels are low the hypothalamus springs into action by releasing Thyrotropin-Releasing Hormone (TRH) which in turn triggers the pituitary gland into producing TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). TSH then activates the thyroid gland into producing the thyroid hormones Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4).
This is often referred to as the Hypothalamic pituitary thyroid axis, and this complex system can easily be thrown off balance which is why it is so important to maintain optimal nutrition through food and why supplementation can play valuable role in supporting healthy thyroid function.
Your thyroid gland affects every part of your body because of the way it regulates your hormones. Energy levels, brain function, metabolism, all of this is affected by your thyroid. For many people their first introduction to their thyroid is a health problem. This could be in the form of weight gain, debilitating fatigue, or just a constant feeling of brain fog and poor memory.
How does the Thyroid Affect Metabolism?
When the metabolism functions correctly, our bodies use the energy that we consume through food, we burn fat, have energy throughout the day and stay within a healthy weight range.
However, our metabolism can be thrown completely out of balance if our thyroid gland stops functioning as it should. Suddenly, those extra few pounds we gained at Christmas stay on, we add weight more easily but struggle to lose weight no matter how hard we try. Some people will spend hours at the gym each week, determined to lose weight and all they are doing is exhausting their system further. The problem is, if our hormonal system is not functioning correctly, excessive exercise will not help, and may often make things worse.
There are many people out there that have a thyroid condition and have no idea, they just think that unexplained weight gain and feeling tired all time is just a part of getting older.
It is estimated that over 20 million Americas have some form of thyroid disease with most people undiagnosed.
The most common thyroid conditions are Hypothyroidism, where the body does not produce enough thyroid hormones, Hashimotos Thyroiditis, where the body creates antibodies which attack the persons own thyroid often swinging them from Hypothyroidism (low thyroid) to Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid), and Hyperthyroidism, where the body is generating too much thyroid hormone. Your doctor can both diagnose, and treat these conditions.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could take a magic pill, made in a lab, which would restore our health and make us feel great? Sure, it would, but unfortunately this is not how our bodies work, and they don’t lie. The truth is, our bodies are incredibly complex and are designed for the natural world, not man-made chemicals. This is why the best way to create a healthy body is to eat highly nutritious food, ideally organic fruit and vegetables, and meat humanely sourced from pasture raised animals.
Are Supplements Necessary?
Supplementation is necessary if something important is missing from your diet or for some reason your body is in need of it. For example, for people living in cold, northern climates (like our Canadian friends), getting enough Vitamin D from the sun can be difficult, so supplementing with Vitamin D may help with this.
Another example is people who choose to be Vegan can often become deficient in Vitamin B12 which is essential for our bodies, and taking a supplement for this can make a huge difference. Thyroid support works in the same way and there are many people who have benefited from supplementation.
The most important factor to good heath is a nutrient rich diet which consists of as few processed foods as possible, however deficiencies may still occur. A vitamin deficiency can often be identified through testing with the assistance of a doctor, and remedied through either medication or supplementation.*