The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland situated in the front of the neck. It produces two hormones— triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) —which are crucial for regulating the body’s metabolic activities, including heart rate, body weight and menstrual cycles.
How the thyroid works
The thyroid gland uses iodine derived from one’s diet to make the two main hormones, T3 and T4. The production and release of these hormones are regulated by centers in the brain.
1. The hypothalamus produces TSH Releasing Hormone (TRH) which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH).
2. TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones, T3 and T4.
3. High levels of T3 and T4 will cause the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus to release less TRH and TSH, thus slowing the production of thyroid hormones. This controls the levels of thyroid hormones in the body.
Keep your thyroid healthy!
What you eat can affect the health of your thyroid. Try to incorporate foods with nutrients which support thyroid health.
If you are already suffering from thyroid disorders, you may want to avoid some foods that may further compromise thyroid function.
Iodine is important for the thyroid to work well. It is also an essential building block for the production of T3 and T4. The best sources of iodine are seaweed and seafood such as salmon, sardines and oysters. Alternatively, using iodised salt can also prevent iodine deficiency.
Selenium plays a part in the activation of thyroid hormone and also has a role in protecting the thyroid gland; thyroid cells generate hydrogen peroxide during hormone production and selenium protects the thyroid gland from the oxidative damage caused by these reactions. Tuna, mushrooms and especially Brazil nuts are good sources of selenium!
Vitamins A, C and E have been known to confer protection to the thyroid against oxidative stress which damages the cells while B vitamins play a part in the production of T4 hormone.
Soy contains goitrogenic compounds, which are naturally-occurring chemicals in foods that can interfere with thyroid function. These chemicals may hinder the production of hormones in the thyroid, but only if you are lacking in iodine and consume large amounts of soy at the same time. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.
Gluten has been linked to a wide range of autoimmune diseases and can lead to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease. If you are suffering from a thyroid disorder, you may want to consider limiting your intake of gluten.
Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and kale. They are chock full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants but they also contain isothiocyanates which can disrupt the production of thyroid hormones. One way to eat these foods is to have them cooked as the heat will eliminate their goitrogenic effect.
Too little, too much?
Thyroid hormone imbalance can cause various health conditions.
When the thyroid produces too much thyroid hormones, this can lead to hyperthyroidism. Graves’ Disease is the most common cause of hyperthyroidism where the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland and causes it to overproduce hormones.
• Anxiety and irritability
• Increased or irregular heartbeat
• Changes in menstrual cycle
• Bulging eyes
• Hand tremors
• Sudden, unexplained weight loss
• A swelling at the base of the neck
Thyroid nodules are swellings in the thyroid gland which can be solid or filled with fluid. Some thyroid nodules do not cause any symptoms while others may cause over production of hormones, leading to hyperthyroidism. If the nodules grow too large, they may also cause problems with swallowing or breathing.
Most nodules can be detected during a normal physical examination by your doctor. Benign thyroid nodules are not life-threatening and usually do not require treatment.
A goiter is a non-cancerous enlargement of the thyroid gland. In less severe cases, the goiter may not cause any signs and symptoms. However, if it grows large enough, it can cause a feeling of tightness in the neck, hoarseness of voice and breathing or swallowing difficulties.
The most common cause of a goiter is iodine deficiency in the diet but other risk factors also include, pregnancy, family medical history and certain types of medication.
When the thyroid does not make enough hormones, it slows down many of the body’s functions. Hashimoto’s disease is a cause of hypothyroidism. In people who suffer from this disease, their immune system attacks and damages the thyroid so that it does not make enough hormones.
• Fatigue and sluggishness
• Irregular periods
• Dry skin, dry thinning hair,
• Pale, puffy face
• Intolerance to cold
• Muscle or joint pain
For Women Under 50 A One-A-Day formula to provide all the vitamins and minerals needed by adult women.
A range of Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E makes this a complete multivitamin formula for women after 50.
A complete range of minerals, Zinc, Magnesium, Iron, and Chromium prevents mineral deficincies.
Evening Primrose Oil
Containing Fatty Acids that is beneficial for hot flushes, premenstrual syndrome, and allergies.
Produced by worker honey bees and the sole food for the queen bee. It helps to boost the immune system.
The active ingredient of Ginseng is ginsenosides. Ginseng supports the nervous system to help regulate stress and improve circulation.
Available at Watsons
Source: Prime Magazine Dec - Jan 2017 Issue. Reproduced with permission.
The views, material and information presented by any third party are strictly the views of such third party. Without prejudice to any third party content or materials whatsoever are provided for information purposes and convenience only. Council For The Third Age shall not be responsible or liable for any loss or damage whatsoever arising directly or indirectly howsoever in connection with or as a result of any person accessing or acting on any information contained in such content or materials. The presentation of such information by third parties on this Council For The Third Age website does not imply and shall not be construed as any representation, warranty, endorsement or verification by Council For The Third Age in respect of such content or materials.