Over twenty-five million people in the United States are affected by a thyroid disease, mainly hypothyroidism (a slowly working thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (an over-working thyroid). Both of these conditions appear to be most prominent in women over the age of fifty, especially during menopause. Studies show that 1 in 5 women with menopause have a type of thyroid dysfunction and it is possible that the number is higher since most women are never diagnosed.
What is a Thyroid?
Hypothyroidism is a well-known condition that makes up over eighty percent of all thyroid diseases, yet most people don’t even know what the thyroid actually does or where it is. The thyroid is located right under the Adam’s apple and best described as shaped like a butterfly. This gland produces hormones, triiodothyronine and thyroxine, that are responsible for regulating the body’s growth and metabolism. They manage the body’s protein production, body temperature, heart rate, and how much fuel you will need to perform activities. Nasty thyroid conditions that can halt the production of these hormones can cause even worse conditions such as heart disease, infertility, and weight gain. If left untreated for prolonged period, then death can also be a result.
There are a large number of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism which can include a combination of the following:
• Increased Anxiety
• Weight Gain (Hypothyroidism Only)
• Increased Appetite with Weight Loss (Hyperthyroidism Only)
• Dry Skin
• Extreme Exhaustion
• Raised Body Temperature
• Weak Voice
• Higher Cholesterol
• Swollen Joints
What can cause a disease like hypothyroidism? The answer to that is Hashimoto thyroiditis and goitrogens.
Hashimoto thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease that is caused by either genetics or an outside force such as viruses and bacteria. Strong medications for this disease, as well as medications in general, can also negatively affect the thyroid.
Goitrogens are known to cause problems in our thyroid. These can be found in foods that we commonly eat every single day such as peaches, strawberries, peanuts, spinach, radishes, cabbage, turnips, kale, broccoli, soybeans, and cauliflower.
It is extremely unlikely that a small amount of these foods will cause problems in your thyroid, though it is best not indulge in them. Studies are still being conducted on the subject, but results have shown it is indeed safe to consume those foods in normal amounts. This is especially true when they are cooked as most of the goitrogens are removed during the process, so if you feel the need to eat a lot then it would be wise to have it cooked. Soy is the one to watch out for, as it is an ingredient most processed foods contain. In general, processed and refined foods are bad for the body, but should especially be avoided if you have thyroid problems.
Thyroid Boosting Foods
There are also a number of foods that can boost the functions of the thyroid as well. Be sure to eat plenty of food rich in iodine, selenium, nuts, sea kelp, and omega-3 fats. On the market there are supplements designed specifically for those with thyroid problems and contain all of the necessary vitamins needed for the health of your thyroid. Turmeric is known to improve thyroid function. For those with extreme fatigue caused by hypothyroidism, there are supplements that can strengthen your adrenal glands which will boost your natural energy levels and help regulate the hormones in your body.