I work with both men and women alike. Some are athletes. Some are parents. All are adulting in their own special ways. One common theme for many of the folk I work with is, “I’m tired”.
Don’t get me wrong, there are possibly a million reasons why we can be tired. Not enough sleep, over-training, not enough nutrient rich food; but there can also be some more complex reasons behind being chronically tired. One element I will always factor into someone’s ‘tired picture’ is their thyroid; is hypothyroidism or hyperthyroid a fatigue factor?
The butterfly gland.
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits on the front of your neck, just above the Adam’s Apple. Its primary role is to produce, store, and release the hormones T3 and T4. These hormones are key for our metabolism. This means the thyroid may impact how we process the food we eat, the rate of our breathing, our body temperature. It can impact our weight, our nervous system, and (if you’re a woman) the menstrual cycle.
Like most things in our bodies, the thyroid is a self-cleaning oven; it usually keeps itself in check. Sometimes however, things can go awry. Auto-immune disease, pregnancy, and dietary deficiencies can all negatively impact the thyroid’s health and function.
So, why am I writing about the thyroid during Women’s History Month? Simple. Whilst thyroid disorders can affect both genders, there is a greater prevalence in women. Thyroid dysfunction is the second most prevalent endocrine disorder in child-bearing aged women. Furthermore, 10-15% of Australians have altered thyroid antibodies, leaving them at greater risk of developing either hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Too fast. Too slow.
Breaking it down to its most rudimentary form, hyperthyroidism is where the thyroid is overactive, and everything speeds up. Whilst hypothyroidism is underactivity, and everything slows down. Folks with hyperthyroid tend have signs such as weight loss (unexplained or unexpected), sweaty, fast heartrate, diarrhoea and irritability. Our hypothyroid folk tend to be putting on weight more easily, slower pulse, constipation and a foggy mind. BOTH will leave you feeling tired as heck.
To get it right, you’ll need to work out if anything is wrong first. A thorough case history will look at your signs, symptoms, risks, and any family history. A Thyroid panel of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), T3 and T4, as well as thyroid antibodies will help detect what may be going on. Depending what’s uncovered, you may be prescribed medication or dietary advice.
Get your pep back.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a thyroid condition; hypothyroidism, hyperthyoird, Grave’s or Hashimoto’s, there are some simple nutrition tips that can help to alleviate the feeling “buggered and blahs”.
- Zinc rich foods – Foods such as oysters, grass-fed beef, organic chicken livers, spinach nuts and seeds can help support the immune system, modulate autoimmunity and minimise inflammation associated with autoimmune Hashimoto’s or Grave’s disease.
- Gluten – Gluten can cause dysbiosis in the gut, and may worsen autoimmune conditions. Remove all traces of gluten from diet.
- Coffee – I get it, you’re tired so you drink this magical elixir to give you superpowers. Too much of a good thing can over stimulate your adrenals and wreck more havoc than your body can tolerate. Stick to two caffeinated beverages a day.
Want my help?
So perhaps use Women’s History Month as a kick up the tooshie to get your health in order. Women (and men), it might be a time to track any signs and symptoms you’ve got, or make an appointment with your primary health praccie.
Book to see me.
If you want to see if I’m a great fit for you to work with, reach out to me here to make an appointment, or give me a quick call to see if I’m your naturopathic glass slipper.
- Jenna Verhoeven
- hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, thyroid