For many people, the thyroid is not something they know very much about. Unless you have a thyroid problem, you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about this little gland in your neck that helps to regulate metabolism, body temperature and multiple other functions through the release of hormones. Thyroid disorders are actually quite common and it is very interesting to investigate the impact that nutrition has on one of the most common disorders, hypothyroidism.
Hypothyroidism is often referred to as an underactive thyroid and is characterised by the thyroid itself not producing enough of the required hormones that the body needs to regulate things like metabolism. As we mentioned above, most people aren’t really aware of this little butterfly-shaped part of our endocrine system, so what sorts of signs should you be looking out for when it comes to hypothyroidism?
One of the most common reported symptoms of hypothyroidism is feeling very low on energy. Your thyroid controls energy balances and can influence whether you’re ready to take on the day or feel like you need to hibernate for the day.
Unexpected and unexplained weight gain is another very common symptom of hypothyroidism. If the thyroid is not releasing adequate hormone levels the metabolism switches modes. Your basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy you use at rest) decreases, and as a result, your body tends to hold onto more calories from food intake as fat. So, while your calories may remain the same, you may experience weight gain nonetheless.
Our bodies generate heat by burning calories, and if your basal metabolic rate is low, this reduces the amount of heat your body is able to generate. If you’re someone who typically is cold then this may just be how your body is built, but if this is a new feeling then it could be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
There are a variety of other symptoms to look out for such as weakness and aches in muscles and joints, hair loss, itchy and dry skin and cognitive function issues such as difficulty concentrating or remembering things.
Nutrition and your thyroid
While there is no way to treat hypothyroidism with diet, nutrition plays a very important role in thyroid health in general. Treating hypothyroidism is done through medication, however should be supported by a well-balanced diet as this is an integral part of building a healthy lifestyle and it has an impact on key things like inflammation within the body, gut health and your immune system.
Keeping inflammation in check through diet means a focus on plenty of vegetables, lean protein and fatty fish such as salmon. It will come as no surprise that steering clear of overly processed foods full of sugars, dyes and preservatives is important. A less obvious one to be aware of is uncooked cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, cabbage and kale. While these may be packed with great nutrients, if eaten in their uncooked form they contain natural chemicals called goitrogens that have been associated with thyroid hormone synthesis interruption. But never fear, if these are some of your favourite vegetables then this chemical is inactivated in the cooking process.
If you’re interested in getting some assistance from our team of qualified Nutritionists and Dieticians to start your wellness journey, we are delighted to offer you a 45-minute consultation free of charge to determine if our team is the right fit for you. To get started, please phone us now on (08) 9388 1166, or you can contact us via our website for more information.