There are many people who walk around everyday and do not know that they have an overactive or underactive thyroid problem. There are more than 20 million people who suffer from a thyroid disorder, more than 10 million women have low-grade thyroid imbalance, and nearly 8 million people with thyroid imbalance remain undiagnosed! I was one of those 8 million people who suffered with many problems, but didn’t even know what was going on. It wasn’t until a friend of the family saw me and said that I needed to have my thyroid checked because my eyes looked bigger than normal. Though I was really offended at the time, her guess was correct! I had hyperthyroidism for months and never knew it!
The thyroid gland sits in the neck and shaped like a butterfly. The main function of the thyroid gland is to produce thyroid hormone, which regulate the functioning of the body and at the same time is a bona fide brain chemical that regulates mood, emotions, and many other brain functions. In fact, this gland controls the body’s metabolism; specifically it controls the amount of energy the body burns. When the thyroid gland is not performing correctly, the two most common problems with the thyroid are as follows:
- Hypothyroidism (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis)—this occurs when there is not enough thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to become underactive; this affects 10 percent of the population and is the most common cause of an underactive thyroid.
- Hyperthyroidism (Graves’ disease)—this occurs when there is an excess of thyroid hormones thus causing the thyroid to be overactive.
In both cases, the body faces a number of symptoms/problems. For example in the table below there is a list of the most common symptoms for each.
|Weight gain||Weight loss|
|Aches and pains in joints and muscles||Shakiness|
|Constipation||Increased frequency of bowel movements|
|Brittle hair||Brittle nails|
|Hair loss, including loss of eyebrow hair||Hair loss|
|Feeling cold even in warm temperatures||Feeling hot and becoming intolerant of warm and hot temperatures|
|Dry and pale skin||Increased sweating & thirst|
|Forgetfulness||Rapid heartbeat, palpitations|
|Mental sluggishness||Shortness of breath|
|Decreased ability to pay attention and focus||Anemia|
|Irritability||Increased hunger and food consumption|
|Seizures||Irregular menstrual periods|
Table 1. Most common symptoms for both hypo- and Hyperthyroidism.1 There are other symptoms.
Since I’m all about food, I must tell you about the foods that are not in your best interest to eat if you have a thyroid imbalance? These foods listed in Table 2 contain a substance called goitrogens, according to research goitrogens suppress the functioning of the thyroid gland by interfering with the iodine uptake.2 The best diet for those of us with a thyroid imbalance is one that includes healthy foods with a low glycemic index such as whole grains, low in fat, low in simple sugars and high in protein.
|Foods to Eat||Foods to Avoid|
|Leafy green veggies||Peaches|
Table 2. Summary of some foods to eat and to avoid when challenged with a thyroid imbalance.
I know; I know; what are you going to eat?? Well, there are lots of foods that you can eat and in my upcoming cookbook, I have simple recipes that are excellent for the thyroid. Please email info@rhondascooking to put your name on the cookbook pre-order list!)
If you are uncertain about whether your thyroid is not properly functioning, please make an appointment with your general physician and get tested. If you your thyroid levels indicate that you are hypo or hyperthyroid active, then please make an appointment with an endocrinologist, a doctor who specializes in the endocrine system which includes the thyroid gland. If you have further questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Arem, Ridya.The Thyroid Solution.New Jersey: The Random House Publishing Group, 2006.
“Goitrogen.” Wikipedia. July 14, 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goitrogen>. July 30, 2008.