Random Aches And Pains? It May Be Your Thyroid
IS YOUR THYROID GLAND MAKING YOU FAT, SICK AND TIRED?
- Waking up in the morning feeling refreshed and wonderful after a great night’s sleep.
- Having the energy to do what you want in the day – be it work or play.
- Looking in the mirror and loving what you see.
- Having people compliment you on your glowing good health and vibrant energy.
OR IS THIS YOU?
- You are putting on weight regardless of how much time you spend at the gym, or how well you eat?
- You toss and turn at night only to fall asleep in the early hours of the morning?
- You are tired no matter how much sleep you get?
- Your face looks blotchy and puffy and your hair is falling out?
- Feel as if your brain is surrounded by fog? Can never remember anything anymore (poor memory)?
- Have a dip of energy in the afternoon (“330itis”)?
- Feel depressed and/or irritable
- Are constipated?
- Have lost interest in sex?
- Catch everything that is going around?
- Have random joint or muscle pains?
YOU MAY BE SUFFERING FROM HYPOTHYROIDISM (LOW THYROID FUNCTION)
Many people just put up with their symptoms – the doctor has told them to expect this with age, or “to do more exercise” or “to eat less”.
But do you know what?? You could exercise 24 hours per day 7 days per week and if you have a thyroid problem, you may not lose 1 gram!
Or you could restrict your carbs and calories to that of a starving person and again lose not 1 gram.
Because if your thyroid is suffering, your metabolism doesn’t work either!
WHY AM I FEELING THIS WAY?
Many people complain of poor energy, the inability to lose weight, unexplained anxiety, constipation or even chronic insomnia. They go along to their doctor who checks their TSH levels (the standard thyroid blood test performed) only for them to come back as “normal” and to be told that they are probably just “doing too much” or “eating the wrong food”, or “not exercising enough” or “they are not the youngest anymore”. They then are perhaps asked to see a dietician or an exercise physiologist, all to no avail. Once all these strategies have proved unsuccessful, it is decided that perhaps they are depressed and need to go on medication. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, this is an extremely common scenario in Australia these days and many people are being under-diagnosed, misdiagnosed and inappropriately medicated for something which may have its underlying foundation in a degree of thyroid dysfunction.
As we saw above, the thyroid is responsible for your metabolism, so it stands to reason that if it’s not working right, you may have a vast array of symptoms. Each person is also individual, so may have a completely different group of symptoms to you – no wonder it is often under/misdiagnosed.
PATHOLOGY FOR ASSESSING THYROID FUNCTION
There are other pathology tests not often performed by conventional doctors (because they are not covered by Medicare in Australia) that can give us a more accurate reading of your thyroid status. This is also a simple blood test performed by a private lab in Melbourne with the results.
WHAT AND WHERE IS THE THYROID AND WHAT DOES IT DO?
SO HERE COMES THE BORING STUFF…
The thyroid is the gland that sits in your throat and is largely responsible for conducting the “orchestra” that is your endocrine system: If your thyroid is not right, your hormones won’t be either. If your hormones aren’t right, that stresses the thyroid further which will continue to cause hormone imbalance. Get the picture?
But the thyroid does so much more than that – it actually regulates our metabolism – so how much energy we have and how much fat we burn.
But as with all things in our bodies, of course it’s not that simple. The brain first has to tell the thyroid to release thyroxin (also known as T4) which has to travel to the liver to be converted to triiodothyronine (also known as T3) which is the activated form, and then it is transported to all our cells where it will be utilised in cellular metabolism. Every step along the way is a complicated process: The hypothalamus in the brain has to be able to release the messenger hormone(thyrotropin-releasing hormone) to the pituitary which then releases TSH (or thyroid stimulating hormone) to allow the thyroid to release the T4 – that’s assuming it had the ability to make it in the first place. Then there has to be enough specific nutrients in our bodies to be able to transport the T4 to the liver, which has to be working “just right’ with the right amount of nutrients, to be able to convert it to T3. THEN the liver has to be able to release the T3 which then needs to be able to be transported to every cell (this also needs more specific nutrients). The cell membrane then has to be receptive to the T3 to be able to assimilate it into its workings.. (phew). So you can see it’s a bit of a complicated process, and just checking your levels of TSH (Which is the standard pathology test to check if your thyroid is working OK) may actually not be enough to ascertain if all things are OK on all levels. In fact, it is thought to only have 18% accuracy. According to current (2010) research “not only is performing the TSH test a waste of resources, utilizing the result will lead to a decrease in diagnostic certainty”
WHY IS THYROID DYSFUNCTION SUCH AS PROBLEM IN OUR SOCIETY?
There are many reasons why your thyroid can become stressed:
- Genetics – thyroid dysfunction runs in families and it is not uncommon for many members of the same family to have thyroid problems.
- Long term emotional or physical stress in itself may result in a sub-functioning thyroid gland.
- Heavy metal toxicity – such as mercury (amalgam fillings), copper and lead can all attack the thyroid gland.
- Oestrogen dominance – excessive oestrogen in the body can cause the thyroid undue stress. In fact thyroid disease often goes alongside oestrogen dominant conditions such asovarian cysts, breast lumps and endometriosis(that’s also why thyroid problems are more common in women)
- Progesterone deficiency- progesterone on the other hand is very protective of the thyroid – when we stress our adrenals often “borrow” progesterone in order to manufacture more stress hormones, so the levels naturally drop. This in itself can tip the balance and your body perceives that it is high in oestrogen whereas it is really too low in progesterone.
- Over exercising (yes really!) will raise our stress hormones, which will in turn lower thyroid function. So, that is why sometimes you may be exercising every day of the week and still not be losing weight. More about this later.
- Environmental chemicals and toxins – from such diverse areas as pesticides that enter our food chain, to pollution, to plastics, to the toxins in our household and personal care products: Many of these mimic oestrogen in our bodies and our bodies can’t tell the difference.
- Getting older – the natural ageing process causes many hormonal shifts in our bodies – the thyroid included.
Many foods stress out the thyroid gland and unfortunately, often it’s these very foods that are touted as healthy that, combined withone or more of the above, can really stress out your thyroid gland and cause dysfunction of many of the steps described above.
The current popularity of low-carb diets has caused an inadvertent elevation of thyroid disease: When you have no sugars available for you liver, it quickly runs out of glycogen and your body perceives this as a “famine” situation. This is stressful for the adrenals as well as the thyroid. Once your liver runs out of adequate glycogen stores, it finds it difficult to convert the inactive T4 to the active T3 (see page 4).
Inadequate, low-quality proteins in the diet prevents the body making those vital proteolytic enzymes which assist with thyroid hormone release at every stage. Unfortunately muscle meat or isolated whey protein (those found in the majority of protein powders) are not the best sources of protein for our bodies as it is hard work for our bodies to digest and assimilate these. Whey protein isolate is a highly processed product with the amino acids they contain being in the wrong proportion for the body and thyroid to use. Our aversion to eating the organ meats and bones from the animal also denies us the most nutritious part of the animal – and we tend to give it to our dogs! The thyroid friendly recipes will show you how you can re-introduce these proteins back into your diet. Remember that the caveman ate the entire animal and the prime hunter often got to have his pick of the organs before the rest of the tribe.
NOW FOR THE GOOD NEWS..
Even if are taking pharmacy thyroid medication, your condition can be managed so that you will have more energy and be able to lose those excess kilos. In order for your thyroid to start functioning properly again all those factors that have been stressing it out for years need to be removed or amended. At Healing Hands we have practitioners experienced in thyroid dysfunction who will discuss with you the best ways to ensure that you can get your life back and live the way you want and deserve to.