I had such an incredible response to my hormone blog last week ('Are your hormones out of whack?', you can read it HERE if you missed it). It was like opening up a can of worms.
I think so many of us have symptoms and we just ignore them because we feel they are just the norm but in fact, some symptoms can be a vital sign that your body is not operating at an optimal level. So I want to follow up and talk about hormones in further detail for you all because they are such a complex mechanism.
So many women are affected by a thyroid disorder in one form or another, particular a slow thyroid (hypothyroidism) so let's dive in a little deeper into what to look for if your thyroid is giving your trouble.
So what is your thyroid?
Ok, firstly I need you to know what your thyroid is and what it does just to understand exactly how important it is to make sure you thyroid is working correctly. The thyroid gland is a little butterfly shaped gland that sits in the front lower part of your neck. The thyroid releases hormones that travel through your blood stream and actually have an effect on almost every other part of your bodily functions.
Think of the thyroid gland as the little control centre. It’s the engine that drives many other hormones in your body. It mainly controls how your body uses energy from the food you eat (better known as your metabolism). If you do not produce enough thyroid hormone all of your bodily processed will slow down as a survival mechanism in order to ensure your body uses less energy and as a consequence, you start to have a slow sluggish metabolism.
So what causes thyroid problems?
There are many factors that can cause a thyroid disorder, however, the main causes stem from:
Exposure to radiation or heavy metals ( a common one is a mercury from mercury amalgams or fillings in your teeth).
Particularly Iodine and selenium. The thyroid needs iodine and selenium in order to produce thyroid hormone. Your body actually does not make iodine or selenium itself so it is very important that you get enough through food in your diet.
Generally from gluten and allergies to A1 casein based proteins (a slow digesting protein). A1 is different to A2 casein protein as A1 releases opioids during the digestion process which can irritate the gut and cause leaky gut. A2 Casein does not contain this so it is generally fine for most people who do not have a dairy intolerance).
Too much cortisol production (stress hormone), which can come from a stressful lifestyle, physical stress from low-calorie diets and over training.
Symptoms to look out for that can be a result of thyroid disorder.
Changes in menstrual cycle
If your thyroid is sluggish then you may be experiencing heavier and more uncomfortable periods with extra cramping than usual. This occurs as thyroid hormones are in a shorter supply and you may also have periods more friendly or just very irregular in general.
You are just feeling down and depressed. When your thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone it can affect your feel good hormone (serotonin) in the brain.
You are exhausted, even though fatigue is related to many disorders, it has a strong correlation with too little thyroid hormone. If you are always tired in the morning even after a full night sleep of 8+ hours then this is an indication that your thyroid may be a little slow.
When your thyroid is out of whack your brain function can alter. When your thyroid is slow you can experience brain fog (forgetfulness, difficulty in thinking clearly) when your thyroid is overactive it can be very difficult to concentrate.
This is actually associated with an overactive thyroid. When your thyroid makes too much hormone it can send your metabolism into overdrive making you feel jittery and hyper.
Bad hair days
A low thyroid can hinder your hair production. It actually puts hair follicles into a resting mode so hair can become brittle and even fall out.
If you are feeling cold all of the time even when the weather is warmer then you may have a slow thyroid. As your metabolism slows down to use less energy then your body produces less heat. However if your thyroid is overactive you may feel overheated a lot of the time.
Less frequent bowel movements or constipation can be a result of a slow thyroid. If everything is slowing down then your digestion is also going to suffer.
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Fluctuations in weight is a difficult one as it can be caused by so many factors. However if you are not eating more than you usually would and you are still exercising then it may be a sign to investigate. On the other hand, those with an overactive thyroid will be experiencing rapid unexplainable weight loss.