Fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coach Angel Scott outlines the importance of understanding the role of the thyroid gland in daily health and wellness…
Changes in your weight even when your eating and exercise routine is consistent; feeling anxious or depressed even when there is no obvious cause; the ongoing feeling of exhaustion even after an entire night’s rest. It’s that deep sense that something is off, and it could be a sign that your thyroid is working under or overtime. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that’s located just above our collarbone. Nearly 20 million Americans are diagnosed with a thyroid disorder each year.
Up to 60% of the people living with a thyroid condition are completely unaware that their unbalanced hormones could be at the center of their health struggles. It may be small, but your thyroid is a powerful organ that plays a huge role in sending and receiving messages throughout your entire body. Most symptoms start slowly but gradually get worse so, here are three thyroid essentials you should know.
Your thyroid regulates more than you realize
Think of your thyroid as a mini control center. It uses iodine in the food we eat to produce and release hormones that signal every cell in our body. Everything from our heart rate, blood pressure, fertility and body temperature to our weight, skin, hair, bones, and mood can change if the small gland in our neck starts to go awry.
Hyperthyroidism vs. Hypothyroidism: What to look for
Your thyroid sends chemical messages that affect every cell and organ in our body. Our thyroid produces two main hormones, T3 and T4. Together this duo controls every major action in our body you can think of. And depending on the message our thyroid receives from our brain, it makes adjustments: producing and releasing more or fewer thyroid hormones into our bloodstream.
When your thyroid starts over-producing thyroid hormones, everything speeds up. Hyperthyroidism is your thyroid working like a race-car in full throttle-mode and it means your thyroid is making more hormones than your body can deal with. An over-active thyroid can lead to symptoms that include:
– Unexplained weight-loss
– Sensitivity to hot temperatures
– Trembling hands, heart palpitations
– Double vision, bulging eyes
– A swollen thyroid
When our thyroid starts under-producing thyroid hormones, everything slows down. Hypothyroidism is your thyroid working like a snail in fatigue-mode and it means your thyroid is struggling to produce enough hormones for your body to function properly. An under-active thyroid can lead to symptoms that include:
– Unexplained weight-gain
– Sensitivity to cold temperatures
– Hair loss
– Constant feeling of exhaustion
– Forgetfulness, depression
Even a slight shift in thyroid hormones can cause symptoms that are hard to ignore. A subtle imbalance of these influential hormones can be managed well if diagnosed and treated correctly. But those subtle signs could be masking bigger issues like thyroid cancer and even lead to heart failure or a stroke, all of which can be fatal. A rapid heart rate, swollen or lumpy thyroid or extreme exhaustion means it’s time to get immediate help.
A simple blood test can determine how your current thyroid hormone levels line up with what is considered to be normal.
Thyroid disease can happen to anyone
Age, gender, family history, fitness level – when it comes to thyroid conditions, there isn’t anything that automatically eliminates your risks. But there are simple ways you can boost your thyroid health (and happiness).
– Swapping refined carbohydrates for more lean protein and healthy fats like coconut oil, avocado and flaxseeds can help improve hormone balance.
– Avoiding common chemicals found in pesticides, nonstick cookware, and antibacterial products, which decrease thyroid function.
– Adding regular exercise that helps increase your metabolism and your body’s thyroid hormone production.
– Managing stress levels that can aggravate an existing thyroid condition and reduce the number of thyroid hormones our body produces.
Our thyroid creates hormones that impact every process in our bodies. The sooner a thyroid condition is detected, the sooner you can begin to manage your overall health and avoid the physical and emotional havoc that can come with thyroid disorders.
Angel Scott is a fitness, nutrition and lifestyle coach and the founder of Simply Defined Fitness where she takes her holistic approach to exercise and healthy eating to her clients – at home, at work and on-the-go. Sign up for her free weekly wellness tips on her website at www.simplydefinedfitness.com.