Found yourself wondering lately what is hypothyroidism and why do I keep hearing about it? The answer may be simpler – and more important – than you think. In short, what is hypothyroidism other than a major determinant of physical and emotional wellbeing?!
What is hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism refers to having too little (hypo-) thyroid hormone. A surprising number of people are unknowingly living with this condition, and the likelihood of developing it becomes even greater with age. But just what is hypothyroidism like for people who have it? How can someone guess that he or she may be living with too little thyroid hormone?
One sign of hypothyroidism may be difficulty with weight loss. Believe it or not, the secret to weight loss isn’t in your head, it’s in your neck! That’s right, the small thyroid gland located in front of your windpipe makes thyroid hormone, the most potent metabolic regulator in the body.
Thyroid hormone, a job description
As the body’s main determinant of metabolic rate, thyroid hormone levels effect anything and everything having to do with energy levels. Normal thyroid levels help us stay fit and trim with enough energy for daily activities.
Thyroid hormone comes in two forms referred to as T3 and T4. The majority of thyroid hormone produced in the thyoid gland is T4, which is converted to the more active form of T3 when it reaches the cells and tissues. Reminiscent of Dr. Suess’ Thing 1 and Thing 2, these hormones dash throughout the body, powerfully shaping everything in their path.
A day in the life of hypothyroidism
Given thyroid hormone’s importance for energy regulation, it comes as little surprise that people with hypothyroidism can feel extreme fatigue. In addition to excess physical weariness, hypothyroidism causes mental fogginess, coarse dry hair, thickened skin and weight gain. Some of these changes can be so subtle and gradual that people blame aging or other factors for their arrival.
The most important thing to remember when trying to understand just what is hypothyroidism is that it is a common condition. For some, it is the intense brain fog or fatigue of hypothyroidism that is most frustrating. In older people, this is too often confused with the loss of mental agility that can accompany old age but it can also be due to an unrecognized hypothyroidism.
For many people, the answer to what is hypothyroidism is a persistent inability to lose weight! Strange as it may sound, far too many people notice only a weight problem and don’t ever make the connection between their excess body weight and hypothyroidism.
Overcoming the hypothyroid hurdle
If you think you might have hypothyroidism, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor. A simple blood test is all that’s needed to make a diagnosis that can help explain what is hypothyroidism doing to your body. After learning your thyroid status, follow a few simple tips to help maintain or regain healthy thyroid function.
Learn to eat well for thyroid health
Certain foods, called goitrogens, can act to moderately suppress thyroid function. Any of these in excess, particularly in combination with too little iodine or too much caffeine, could make a major difference in developing a hypothyroid. The full list of foods is quite extensive but here are a few foods to try avoiding:
Stop stressing and start supplementing
Iodine is essential for proper thyroid hormone production, so much so that conventional salt is usually iodized in an effort to make sure we get enough of this good stuff. Despite this important public health effort, many diets are still lacking in sufficient iodine, making a natural supplement an excellent way to boost your natural production of the all-important energizer, thyroid hormone.
Vitamin D can also be a great way to boost healthy thyroid function. Shown to help combat a number of health conditions, there’s no reason not to get a bit extra of this essential sunshine vitamin. Other great supplements include herbs such as echinacea and eleuthero that are known to promote proper thyroid function.
Another great way to help promote proper thyroid function is to give yourself a break. Believe it or not but the thyroid gland works in conjunction with the main stress hormones coming from the adrenal glands. Over-taxing adrenal function with excess anxiety and sugar can help to wear out thyroid function as well.
With just this quick overview of what is hypothyroidism, its already clear that healthy thyroid function is just too important to disregard. Be sure to find out your thyroid status in order to make the most of your very own natural metabolic powerhouse!