The thyroid is an endocrine gland that produces and directs various hormones in the body. The health of the thyroid is paramount to overall well being, playing a vital role in cell growth, metabolism and energy levels. The thyroid produces two major primary hormones called triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). T3 is the more bioactive version of the hormone, while T4 is considered the less active, storage form. Surprisingly, the thyroid outputs roughly 20 times more T4 than T3.
Lesser known, the thyroid’s secondary role is the production of the calcium-regulating hormone calcitonin, which regulates and balances blood calcium levels and calcium deposition in bones.
Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) released from the pituitary helps regulate the hormonal output and balance of the thyroid, regulating how much of the primary T3 and T4 hormones are manufactured and released. Before all of that happens, the TSH release is first stimulated by the area of the brain that controls neuroendocrine and central nervous system function. The hypothalamus then sends out its own stimulatory hormone called thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH).
This gland – and the hormones it secretes – work to do many things, such as:
Cellular protein synthesis
Regulate cardiac and muscle activity
Improve metabolism and help the body turn food into energy
Turn beta-carotene into vitamin A
Regulate growth during childhood
Affects mental processes
Aids in the regulation of a person’s sex drive and a woman’s menstrual period
Graves Disease(the autoimmune form of Hyperthyroidism)
Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis(the autoimmune form of Hypothyroidism)
Let’s dig into those a bit.
1. Grave’s disease
Is an autoimmune disorder, wherein the immune system has an abnormal response that causes the thyroid gland to produce an overabundance of thyroid hormone. If left untreated, this disease can lead to over activity of the thyroid gland, otherwise known as hyperthyroidism.
Is defined as an overactive thyroid gland which produces an overabundance of T3/T4 hormones.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:
Causes are as diverse as its symptoms, but nevertheless are important to understand. Autoimmunity (attack of self) of the thyroid often leads to Grave’s Disease, a disorder that results in an overactive thyroid. Also, nodule formation and/or goiter formation in the thyroid, leading to inhibition of necessary hormone feedback loops, contributes to excess production of thyroid hormones. Excess dietary iodine intake can also increase risk for hyperthyroidism.
Conventional approaches to hyperthyroidism include beta blockers and anti-thyroid medications, radioactive iodine, and surgery. Natural approaches are numerous and often boil down to one thing: diet. Eliminating goitrogenic foods may be helpful, as would removing fluoride, bromine and chlorine from water via a high-quality filtration system.
Here are some examples of Goitrogenic foods:
Reducing dietary gluten and dairy casein may also help protect the thyroid gland in sensitive individuals. Nascent iodine, lithium orotate, probiotics, vitamin D3, omega-3 fats, L-dopa (mucuna pruriens), and L-tyrosine are possible helpful supplements that can be taken for supporting thyroid health. Make sure to get plenty of sleep to recharge the thyroid, and avoid synthetic chemicals whenever possible. Deep breathing meditation and general relaxation may also be helpful for reducing stress associated with the thyroid.
Is a form of chronic inflammation that can damage the thyroid, inhibiting its ability to produce hormones. Roughly 90% of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) begins with Hashimoto’s.
Hashimoto’s affects 1-2% of people in the United States, with the majority being women. It’s thought to be the result of genetic and environmental factors. Hashimoto’s often appears in adulthood, with signs and symptoms developing gradually over time.
What many don’t realize is that this is an autoimmune condition, whereas the immune system begins attacking itself. In the case of “hashi’s”, your immune system begins attacking your thyroid specifically. If left untreated, it can become full blown hypothyroidism, which can pose greater problems long-term.
Common causes include a congenital abnormality (thyroid deficiency from birth), autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid, such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, nutritional iodine deficiency, TSH hormone deficiency via pituitary gland abnormality, heavy metal toxicity and dysbiosis (imbalance of good vs. bad bacteria).
The Role of Vitamin Deficiency and Thyroid Disorders
We all know that we should eat the right foods in order to obtain all the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients to achieve and maintain optimal health and well-being. But did you know…
Lack of certain vitamins and minerals can actually lead to thyroid deficiency and if you have thyroid deficiency, the vitamins you are consuming aren’t being absorbed and utilized properly.
It’s important that we all make sure to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals, either by eating plenty of nutrient-dense foods containing or by using quality supplements in addition to a healthy diet.
Let’s face it, most people these days lead very busy lives. While eating healthy all the time can prove challenging, by committing to an 80/20 philosophy (80% clean / 20% less clean), you’re setting yourself up for a healthier mind, body (internally and externally) and spirit. Your mood has the potential to literally shift with simple upgrades to your plate – go figure! 🙂
I see it often – people skip meals to lose weight without realizing that this can cause problems for their entire endocrine system (hormones, thyroid, adrenal glands). Unfortunately, this also often leads to weight-gain because your body begins to store fatto use for energy and since it doesn’t know when it will get it’s next “fix” of healthy and nutritious food, it holds on to whatever it can to keep you going with your everyday life.
Lack of protein in a vegetarian or vegan diet of a thyroid deficient person may also cause problems. That’s not to say that these ways of eating are bad – not at all! But often people do vegetarian or vegan incorrectly and because of this, lack the proper amount of protein to support the needs of the thyroid and other body systems.
Checking for vitamin and mineral deficiencies is not common in Western Medicine, but it’s a really easy tool to determine what your individual needs are. You might be surprised to find that you are deficient in quite a few important vitamins!
Here are some common vitamin (mineral) deficiencies . Seek testing from a Functional Medicine Practitioner or Naturopath that understands the importance of having these in balance for overall health and optimal body functions.
All the B vitamins are vital for good thyroid function, but each plays their own important role in the body. Check outthis postfor a detailed description of the role of each of the 8 B vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12.
A note regarding B vitamins: Testing for the MTHFR gene is a good idea, as it’s estimated that upwards of 50% of the population have at least 1 of the genetic mutations present, making absorption of certain vitamins – including B’s – nearly impossible without taking the proper form and combination.
The thyroid needs this vital vitamin to stay healthy. Long-term deficiency causes the thyroid gland to secrete too much hormone. People with an overactive thyroid often need extra Vitamin C, as this is actually drained from the tissues in their bodies.
It has been found that when people with an overactive thyroid take this vitamin, it counteracts the usual rapid excretion of calcium and osteoporosis can be avoided. A large majority of the population tend to be deficient in this vitamin, even in sunny climates! Supplementation is a great idea for many people and testing to see where your levels are is as simple as a vial of blood from your GP.
Again, lack of this vitamin encourages the thyroid gland to secrete too much hormone, as well as too little TSH by the pituitary gland.
A higher intake of this vitamin is often needed by people with an overactive thyroid to counteract the large amounts of the vitamin depleted from the system. As with anything, consult your doctor as some believe that supplementing with vitamin E should be avoided in cases of autoimmunity.
Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. This mineral also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and even prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to Type 2 diabetes). Most people consume too little calcium.
Contrary to old beliefs, dairy products are not necessarily the best source either. White beans, sardines, dried figs, bok choy, blackstrap molasses, kale, almonds, oranges and sesame seeds are all great NON-DAIRY options.
This is a crucial component of the enzyme that converts T4 to T3 in the body. Without it, T3 cannot be produced in the right amounts and organs will function as if they were hypothyroid (underactive) even though blood test levels are normal.
Research has shown that both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism result in zinc deficiency. It also plays a role in the functioning of the immune system. Low zinc levels have been found in obese people. Zinc is needed to convert T4 into T3, so this mineral is a must.
 Thyroid UK
We need the “good guys” in order to function at our peak performance and fuel our immune system to do it’s job efficiently.
While diagnosis may be scary, you have the power to reverse this condition by supporting your immune and endocrine systemsusing food as medicine, positive mindset and movement, which aid in decreasing inflammation and improving your overall health. Remember, you are not your diagnosis. Your symptoms are merely your bodies way of showing you that you’re out of balance. Creating balance from within helps to ward off disease and bring you back to a healthy state of homeostasis.
Juicer Giveaway Winner
Congratulations Polly 🙂
Remember, we’re in this together,
For a quick, easy and powerful concoction that can help you reach your health goals, PLEASE check out our Organifi Green Juice.
Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Drew Canole, and the associated www.fitlife.tv are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury. It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician. Drew Canole and Fitlife.tv claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.
Drew Canole is a rockstar in the world of fitness, nutrition and mindset, with a huge heart for others and doing his part to transform the world, one person at a time.
As the founder and CEO of Fitlife.TV, he is committed to sharing educational, inspirational and entertaining videos and articles about health, fitness, healing and longevity. He is also a best selling author and the founder of Organifi, an organic, incredibly delicious greens powder, chock-full of superfoods to make juicing easy no matter your busy schedule.
During my FitLife transformation, I lost 70 pounds! That's why I signed up for the protocol, but the most exciting result is that I found ME in the process. I had been hiding under a pile of pounds, self-doubt, and grief! FitLife changed my life and I knew I had to share it with others.
-Lynne, Longwood FL
I started with Fitlife back in 2011-2012…I wrote into Fitlife asking for an extreme amount of help. I was 300 pounds, with high cholesterol, and Drew helped me transform my life. I lost over 130 pounds and I no longer have high cholesterol. Not only did I lose weight, so did my husband, who lost over 70 pounds!