As we age, our metabolism begins to slow down. As a result, we can find ourselves feeling run down, tired, and a few pounds heavier. But there could be something more going on with your body than simple aging, especially if you’re experiencing these problems and you’re only in your 30s or 40s. It’s called hypothyroidism or low thyroid, a highly common problem among today’s men and women.
Where is the thyroid gland?
Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your neck just below the thyroid cartilage, better known as the Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is the largest endocrine gland in the body and is shaped somewhat like a butterfly, with two large lobes (or wings) located on either side that are connected by a smaller midsection called the isthmus.
What does the thyroid do?
The primary role of the thyroid gland is to regulate metabolism—the rate at which your body burns energy. It does so through the production of thyroid hormones, specifically triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). These hormones also play a key role in the growth and function of other important body systems. The rate at which your thyroid produces T3 and T4 is regulated by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH).
To better understand the role of the thyroid, imagine your body as a car. How fast your car goes depends (in part) on how much gas is let into the engine by the fuel injectors. The more gas, the more your engine revs.
Your T3 and T4 thyroid hormones are like your body’s fuel injectors. They are responsible for how much fuel your body uses at any given time. Too much of these hormones and your metabolism and other organ systems function faster than normal. Too little and your body functions become slow and sluggish.
What can go wrong with the thyroid?
The one of the keys to a good metabolism is maintaining a healthy balance of thyroid hormones. When these important hormones get thrown out of balance, they can result in one of two thyroid conditions—hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Of these two conditions, hypothyroidism or low thyroid is the most common.
Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid becomes “underactive” and lacks in the production of T3 and T4. The effects slow down your body’s metabolism and other body functions. Low thyroid function affects both men and women, and is most commonly associated with symptoms such as:
- Weight gain
- Intolerance to cold temperatures
- Dry, itchy skin
- Slow heart rate
- Female infertility, problems with menstrual cycles
How do thyroid hormones get out of balance?
The most common causes of hypothyroidism or low thyroid are:
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid)
- Inadequate production of T4 (true hypothyroidism)
- Iodine deficiency
- Poor conversion of T4 to T3
- Thyroid hormone resistance
Many conditions leading to the above problems involve lifestyle and nutrition, such as irregular immune function, poor blood sugar metabolism, adrenal issues, gut inflammation/infections, and hormone imbalances, and STRESS induced by these ongoing problems.
Low thyroid is a big deal because in addition to weight gain, lack of energy, and feeling crummy, the risk of some serious health problems are increased. Low thyroid can lead to high cholesterol, heart problems (including a much higher risk of heart attack), miscarriage, ADHD, decreased brain function (including poor memory, verbal and quantitative skills), and Alzheimer’s.
Weight gain is a very common problem among men and women with low thyroid. In fact, for every 1 point increase in TSH, there is a corresponding 5-pound weight gain in women, and a corresponding 2.5-pound weight gain in men. The problem with traditional medicine practices is that it doesn’t always recognize low thyroid until TSH reaches extreme levels.
How can I find out if my thyroid hormones are out of balance?
Knowing your symptoms is very important when it comes to identifying problems with thyroid function. However, early hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is often asymptomatic, meaning you can have low thyroid function but not know it.
The best way to determine whether your thyroid is functioning properly is to get tested. Not only will testing confirm your suspicions, it will help identify what type of thyroid imbalance you have.
There are a variety of ways to assess thyroid function, but lab testing is the most effective indicator of thyroid function. Not only are lab tests capable of assessing each thyroid hormone levels, they help determine the type of imbalance, if any, is present.
How can I restore balance back to my thyroid hormones?
While there are some factors that can lead to low thyroid function that we can’t do much about, including age and thyroid gland destruction from autoimmune reaction (sometimes resulting from leaky gut), there’s a lot we can do for thyroid problems that relate to stress.
An important step in rebalancing an underactive thyroid is ensuring the adrenals are balanced, as thyroid function is highly dependent on the hormones produced by the adrenal glands.
At Vibrant, we place clients suffering from low thyroid on an Adrenal-based Recovery Program that’s tailored to the needs of their body. Once the adrenals are balanced, healthy thyroid hormone function usually follows.
To learn more about the effects of thyroid and other hormone imbalances, stop by and visit me at this year’s Just For Her expo, June 1st – June 3rd, at the Overland Park Convention Center, in Overland Park, Kansas City. You can find me at the Vibrant booth (#406), where I’ll be offering FREE stress-relieving massages, FREE hormone balance screenings, and exclusive money-saving coupons for my health recovery services.
If you’ve never been to the Just For Her expo, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a girlfriend or two and make a day of it. In addition to all the fun you’ll have shopping and pampering yourself, you’ll discover all sorts of new life-enhancing products and services just for women. Tickets can be purchased at a discount online or at the door for $10.00.