In no way, do I want to downplay how serious thyroid issues can be. The thyroid can cause serious problems for our health, whether it is over active as in hyperthyroidism, or is under active as in hypothyroidism. Hypothyridism can legitimately cause us to gain weight, but do we have to resign ourselves to obesity because of it? Not necessarily.
Understanding the thyroid gland.
The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland in your neck. It makes two hormones that are secreted into the blood: thyroxine (T4) andtriiodothyronine (T3). These hormones arenecessary for all the cells in your body to work normally. (1)
Thyroid disoders are very common and tend to occur mainly in women, although anybody – men, teenagers, chidren and babies, can be affected. About 1 in 20 people have some kind of thyroid disorder, which may be temporary or permenent.
The T4, or rather the T3 derived from it, and the T3 secreted directly by the thyroid gland influence the metabolism of your body cells. In other words, it regulates the speed with which your body cells work. If too much of the thyroid hormones are secreted, the body cells work faster than normal, and you have hyperthyroidism. If you become hyperthyroid, the increased activity of your body cells or body organs may lead, for example, to a quickening of your heart rate or increased activty of your intestine so that you have frequent bowel movements or even diarrhea. (1) This is a dangerous situation which you need to address with your physician right away.
For the purpose of this article, I really want to focus on hypothyroidism and what you can do to mitigate weight gain as a result of it. Hypothyroidism is a legitmate medical reason for you to gain weight. You may always find yourself struggling with the scale to some degree when you have hypothyroidism, but you also do not have to resign yourself to obesity.
If too little fo the thyroid hormones are produced, as in hypothyroidism, the cells and organs of your body slow down, If you become hypothyroid, your heart rate may be slower than normal, and your intestines work sluggishly so you become constipated. (1)
Common symptoms of hypothyroidism are tiredness, feeling cold, weight gain, poor concentration and depression. If you are experiencing these symptoms, have your physician complete blood labs to confirm whether you have hypothyroidism. There are many causes for thyroid disorders. The most common cause is from autoimmune thyroid disease. This is a self destructive process in which the the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid cells as if they were foreign cells. In response, the thyroid becomes under or over active. Your physician can get a good idea about the activity of your thyroid gland by listening to your symptoms, asking you some questions, examining your neck and then by sending off a sample of your blood to a local lab for analysis.
Can thyroid disorders be treated?
Yes, thyroid disorders can be treated by medications, however, there is more you should discuss with your physician in how you can control at least the symptoms through proper diet and exercise. By consuming a proper and healty diet, you may still battle being somewhat overweight, but you do not have to resign yourself to obesity if you suffer from hypothyroidism.
- There is no best diet for hypothyroidism. However, changing the way you eat will affect how your body responds to the disorder.
- Cut your caloric intake. We have a Calorie Calculator in our menu where you can figure your caloric needs based on your basal metabolic rate. Note, you might need to experiment some to find the best amount for your daily needs.
- Ensure you are eating enough fiber. This is one of the best things you can do as a thyroid patient if you want to lose weight. You can increase your fiber intake through higher fiber foods, supplements or a combination of the two.
- Watch out for thyroid slowing foods such as kale, spinach and broccoli. Skip past raw juice diets in particular.
- Cut out simple carbohydrates and sugars entirely, or at a minimum, greatly reduce your intake of them. Check to ensure the foods you consume are low on the glycemic index.
- Besides not eating sugar and simple carbs, quit eating processed foods and begin consuming whole foods that do not contribute to inflammation in your body.
- Begin intermittent fasting which will stimulate fat burning and help regulate hunger hormones if you have also quit sugar.
- If you suspect you might have food allergies of any kind, consider getting tested. If you have foods that you are allergic to, then quit eating them.
- Keep your body well hydrated. Water helps your metabolism to be more efficient. It can help to reduce your appetite, reduce water retention and bloating, and improve elimination and digestion.
- With your physicians approval, begin exercising in order to stimulate your metabolism and fat burning. If you cannot exercise for a half hour straight, then do small increments to equal a half hour over the course of a day. Once you can exercise for a soild half hour, begin working towards exercising for an hour. It takes 20 minutes of elevated heart rate to burn through your glycogen stores. Once you have done this, then all of your enegy needs are going to come from burning fat to get you through your exercise session.
- Get enough sleep. Numerous studies link sleep deprevation to a slowed metabolism and obesity.
- If any of your medications are a concern in regards to weight gain. Talk to your physician about this problem. There is always a chance that your medication can be changed to another which will not affect your weight.
I am not a physician and cannot diagnose or treat medical problems. However, I strongly believe that many conditions can be better controlled through personal initiative, disciplined dietary habits and exercise. If you suffer from hypothyroidism, please be sure to discuss the points in this article with your doctor before just incorporating them.
(1)British Thyroid Foundation.