May is Thyroid Awareness Month in Australia and here’s why you need to know about it.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits at the front of your throat under your larynx or Adam’s Apple. It has many different functions but essentially the thyroid controls our metabolism through the production of thyroid hormones.
Thyroid problems can include: under-active, over-active, cancer, inflammation or nodules.
An enlargement of the thyroid is called a goitre. It can be due to either under-activity or over-activity of the gland.
An under-active thyroid can lead to fatigue, weight gain, cold-sensitivity, hair loss and depression. In older people it can be mistaken for dementia. So if you have any of these symptoms it’s important to have a blood test to check your thyroid function. An under-active thyroid can be treated with a single tablet.
An over-active thyroid can lead to the opposite: anxiety, palpitations, a racing heart, heat intolerance, insomnia and weight loss. Spoiler alert: This is NOT a good way to lose weight! It’s a strain on your heart and can cause loss of muscle, irregular periods and infertility. You’ll end up a nervous wreck.
Thyroid problems are much more common in women than men.
Occasionally pregnancy or menopause can cause thyroid problems to start or get worse.
If left untreated in pregnancy, it can cause serious problems for both mother and baby including miscarriage, prematurity and stillbirth.
In order to produce thyroid hormones we need to consume iodine – about 150 mcg per day.
Most Australians obtain enough in their diet since iodine is found in soil and seafood. The best source is kelp seaweed. Two exceptions are Tasmania and the Great Dividing Range because the soil there is low in iodine. I recommend using iodised salt if you live down south.
A final tip for keeping your thyroid healthy is keeping your liver healthy. The liver plays a major role in converting thyroid hormones into their active form. So keep your alcohol consumption to less than one standard drink per day and your refined sugar intake to less than six teaspoons per day.
For more information visit The Australian Thyroid Foundation website: thyroidfoundation.org.au
Please forward this Health-e-Byte to anyone who is concerned about their thyroid.