Understanding the Thyroid
Understanding the Thyroid
The thyroid is a small gland, shaped like a butterfly, which rests in the middle of the lower neck. Its primary function is to control the body’s metabolism (rate at which cells perform duties essential to living). To control metabolism, the thyroid produces hormones, T4 and T3, which tell the body’s cells how much energy to use.
A properly functioning thyroid will maintain the right amount of hormones needed to keep the body’s metabolism functioning at a satisfactory rate. As the hormones are used, the thyroid creates replacements. The quantity of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream is monitored and controlled by the pituitary gland. When the pituitary gland, which is located in the center of the skull below the brain, senses either a lack of thyroid hormones or a high level of thyroid hormones, it will adjust its own hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) and send it to the thyroid to tell it what to do.
What is thyroid disease and whom does it affect?
When the thyroid produces too much hormone, the body uses energy faster than it should. This condition is called hyperthyroidism. When the thyroid doesn’t produce enough hormone, the body uses energy slower than it should. This condition is called hypothyroidism. There are many different reasons why either of these conditions might develop. Currently, about 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. People of all ages and races can get thyroid disease. However, women are five to eight times more likely than men to have thyroid problems.
What causes thyroid disease?
The following conditions cause hypothyroidism:
Thyroiditis is an inflammation of the thyroid gland. This can lower the amount of hormones produced.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a painless disease of the immune system that is hereditary.
Postpartum thyroiditis occurs in 5 percent to 9 percent of women after giving birth. It is usually a temporary condition.
Iodine deficiency is a problem affecting approximately 100 million people around the world. Iodine is used by the thyroid to produce hormones. Although prevalent before the 1950s in the USA, iodine deficiency has been virtually wiped out by the use of iodized salt.
A non-functioning thyroid gland affects one in 4,000 newborns. If the problem isn’t corrected, the child will be physically and mentally retarded.
The following conditions cause hyperthyroidism:
With Graves’ disease, the entire thyroid gland might be overactive and produce too much hormone. This problem is also called diffuse toxic goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).
Nodules might be overactive within the thyroid. A single nodule is called toxic autonomously functioning thyroid nodule, while several nodules are called a toxic multi-nodular goiter.
Thyroiditis, a disorder that can be painful or painless, can also release hormones that were stored in the thyroid gland causing hyperthyroidism for a few weeks or months. The painless variety occurs most frequently in women after childbirth.
Excessive iodine is found in a number of drugs such as Amiodarone, Lugol’s solution (iodine), and some cough syrups, and might cause the thyroid to produce either too much or too little hormone in some individuals.
The following are symptoms for hypothyroidism:
Frequent, heavy menstrual periods
Dry, coarse skin and hair
Intolerance to cold
The following are symptoms for hyperthyroidism:
Infrequent, scant menstrual periods
Enlarged thyroid gland
Vision problems or eye irritation
What can be done to support thyroid health?
Diet is very important to the health of the thyroid. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid disease of any type, or if you suspect a thyroid issue, I strongly suggest you stop eating all sugar. Sugar seems to be especially toxic to the thyroid. This includes sugar in the form of all alcohol. It is also advisable to stop eating grains and breads, especially traditional, non-organic varieties. Eat real food and avoid all processed foods.
If you don’t already do so, drink only purified, filtered or spring water. The chlorine and the fluoride in municipal water supplies are toxic to the thyroid gland.
The best – the very best – thing you can do for not only the health of your thyroid but for your overall health as well is get a complete Nutrition Response Testing® analysis. This allows a way to check for possible underlying causes of poor thyroid function. Things like chemical or heavy metal toxicities and challenges or even immune and food sensitivities that might be adversely affecting the thyroid. We can also check the organs that work with the thyroid to make sure they are functioning properly and not causing problems to downstream to the thyroid.
Thyroid problems affect over 20 million in this country but with the right nutrition and a healthy diet many thyroid problems can be corrected and health can be restored. If someone you want to help has a thyroid problem, tell them about Nutrition Response Testing® today!