Last week, I got the results of my thyroid test back. Surprisingly, gratefully, I am totally normal. Well, my thyroid is totally normal.
Why are we concerned about the health of the thyroid? This butterfly-shaped gland produces thyroid hormones, which have an effect on every organ system in the entire body. Hormones are simply chemical messengers, and thyroid hormones send messages regarding metabolism, energy, and temperature.
How does the thyroid work?
If your thyroid gland is functioning correctly, then it uses iodide from food and converts it to iodine. Thyroid peroxidase (TPO) is the the enzyme that converts iodide to iodine, its active form. This active iodine can now go through iodination and attach to the amino acid tyrosine.
During this process of iodination, tyrosine bonds with either one or two iodine molecules (T1 or T2).
T1 and T2 bond together to form T3 or T4.
Thyroxine, or T4, is nearly inactive in the body. It is the thyroid’s storage hormone. It needs to convert to T3 to become active and useful in the body. Deiodinase type 1 and 2 are needed to facilitate this conversion process. D1 and D2 are dependent on the minerals selenium and zinc to convert T4 to T3 properly in the liver.
If your T3 and T4 are low, the hypothalamus releases thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This tells the thyroid gland to make T3 and T4.
There is so much going on here, right?
We have the following elements: iodide, selenium, and zinc. We have the following organs and glands: hypothalamus, thyroid, and liver.
(1) If any of the preceding micronutrients are at suboptimal levels in the body, the thyroid can be suppressed or overactive.
Thyroid health can be supported at a minimum by making sure that you are ingesting optimal amounts of these micronutrients.
You thought I was going to give you a pill? I am a nutritionist.
Iodide (the bound form of dietary iodine) can be found in a bunch of yummy foods, like seaweed snacks, cranberries, strawberries, and cheese.
Selenium can be found in fish, beef, and my all-time favorite, brazil nuts. I use brazil nuts with my clients therapeutically for selenium supplementation. Brazil nuts support reproductive health as well. If you come to me with thyroid issues, you will be getting a recommendation of brazil nuts. Don’t be surprised if your sex drive goes up.
Zinc is found in good quality meat, seeds, and dark chocolate.
I like whole food sources of vitamins and minerals because the Lord made food. He knows that all vitamins and minerals need to work in concert with each other. For example, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate contain synergistic amounts of zinc and selenium. Megadoses of one vitamin are unnatural and can have long term dangerous health effects.
For example, have you seen this study? Exercise caution with supplementation.
(2) If any of the preceding glands are dysfunctional, the thyroid can be suppressed or overactive.
The hypothalamus is part of the HPA axis. The hypothalamus, pituatary, and adrenal glands all talk to one other to regulate hormones, stress, and metabolism. Other glands get involved here too, like the thyroid. You can support your HPA axis by lowering stress, which lowers cortisol. What does this look like? For my clients, it usually looks like a complete cessation of chronic, intense cardio. That s@$# will mess up your hormones. Substitute barre, stretching, or weight lifting instead.
The thyroid is the gland that regulates temperature and metabolism. We will go into the thyroid in greater detail in future posts.
The liver is your detoxification organ. It processes all food, drugs, hormones, and other substances that find their way into your bloodstream. It essentially cleans your body. I generally have all of my clients on an herbal tincture that supports the liver quite well. We all need liver support. Foods to support the liver- anything bitter. Greens, radishes, coffee, lemon, limes- these all support bile flow, which is necessary to keep the liver functioning optimally. A healthy liver supports a healthy thyroid.
This is just the tip of the thyroid iceberg. Hashimoto’s disease is the autoimmune component of thyroid disorders, measured by looking at TPO antibodies. TPO antibodies are produced by the body when thyroid cells are irritated or inflamed and the thyroid peroxidase enzyme starts leaking out of the thyroid cells. The body sees that TPO as an invader and creates an inflammatory response against it. This is measured in Anti-TPO anitbodies, and is the marker for Hashimoto’s disease.
And we will get into that next time.
PS- I have been using EverlyWell for some of my own testing. I am going to use it with select clients because you can do it at home, all by yourself. You also don’t have to pay the lab fee. It’s kind of nice. Use code REFORMEDMETABOLICS to get 10% off.