Over 20 million Americans have thyroid dysfunction – that is a huge number! And what is even more shocking is that an estimated 60% of those with thyroid issues are undiagnosed. It is particularly common in my neck of the woods (New York) and if left untreated, can have devastating results.
What is the Thyroid?
Your thyroid is a small gland located in the front of your neck. It helps take iodine (found in many foods) and convert it into thyroid hormones. Your thyroid makes two hormones: T3 and T4. These hormones regulate digestion, increase metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and even support brain function.
*Disclaimer: this site contains affiliate links.
Here are some of the basics:
- Your thyroid is under the control of the pituitary gland → this is a small gland in your brain that is particularly sensitive to stress.
- When thyroid hormone levels drop too low, the pituitary gland makes TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone)
- TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to make more T3 and T4.
Hypothyroidism occurs when your thyroid hormones are too low. This is the most common hormonal imbalance seen in American women. Here are 10 signs of an underactive thyroid:
This is the most common symptom. Approximately 4 out of 5 people with hypothyroidism report chronic fatigue.
Hypothyroidism slows your metabolism. This causes weight gain or a much greater difficulty losing weight.
Low thyroid hormones cause both memory loss and brain fog, leading to cognitive decline (that can often be reversed with treatment).
Excessively dry skin
Hypothyroidism can change the way your skin looks and feels. Often, it causes dry, cracking skin and lips.
A common complaint of those with undiagnosed thyroid issues is frequent muscle aches characterized by long-term and widespread pain and soreness.
Up to 68% percent of women with hypothyroidism experience abnormal periods and are at increased risk of both infertility and miscarriage.
An underactive thyroid can disrupt the body’s innate ability to regulate body temperature. This may cause you to feel colder than usual.
Prolonged hypothyroidism without treatment may result in a feeling of swelling in the neck and discomfort with neckties.
Anxiety and depression
Hormonal imbalance often leads to mood swings, depression, anxiety and increased perception of stress.
Those with hypothyroidism often experience dry and brittle hair, as well as diffuse hair loss.
You may also like: 6 Natural Ways to Boost Serotonin
You may also like: 7 Signs You Need Probiotics
Hypothyroidism and the Microbiome
Your microbiome also plays a MAJOR role in thyroid health. When the microbiome is unbalanced, bad bacteria can leak out of the intestine into the body → inflammatory response. A prolonged and heightened inflammatory response causes the body to attack its own tissues. This is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and it is the number one cause of low thyroid in America.
This widespread and long-lasting inflammation also stimulates the adrenal glands to produce the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, too much cortisol can suppress thyroid function → less thyroid hormones are produced and used appropriately by the body.
Fix your thyroid by fixing your gut
Bringing it all back into balance → the three “Rs” of gut health:
- Remove harmful yeast and bacteria → this can be done through a gentle cleanse or with help from products like Plexus BioCleanse.
- Replace with good bacterial strains → supplement with probiotics.
- Repair your leaky gut → give your body the nutrition and antioxidant support it needs to heal. Adopt a diet full of different fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and fermented foods (sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt).