What Is Hypothyroidism? Exploring This Common Thyroid Disorder

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Not to be confused with hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism is a common disorder of the thyroid gland. According to the American Thyroid Association (ATA), about 0.4% of the U.S. adult population suffers from this thyroid disorder — making it more common than hyperthyroidism. But if you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you probably have some questions about this thyroid disorder and how it affects your health.

 

Hypothyroidism Explained

Hypothyroidism is essentially the medical term for an underactive thyroid. A ductless gland located in the neck, the thyroid plays an important role in the human body’s metabolism by regulating the production and release of various metabolic hormones, including T3 and T4. The term “hypothyroidism” refers to a disorder in which this gland produces lower-than-normal levels of the T3 and/or T4 hormone. If your thyroid gland produces low levels of thyroid hormones, you could have hypothyroidism. Of course, there are tests available to measure the specific levels of thyroid hormones in your body, allowing for an accurate diagnosis of this disorder.

 

What Are the Symptoms of Hypothyroidism?

Like other medical conditions, the symptoms of hypothyroidism can vary from person to person. With that said, hypothyroidism generally manifests as a few common symptoms, some of which include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Hair loss
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Dry skin (may itch as well)
  • Water retention
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Slow or irregular heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Constupation
  • Indigestion

 

The Link Between Iodine Deficiency and Hypothyroidism

There’s a strong correlation between iodine deficiency and hypothyroidism. Statistics show that in the United States, about 100 million men and women don’t get enough iodine in their diet. Globally, about 1 billion people suffer from iodine deficiency. How does lack of iodine cause hypothyroidism exactly?

Iodine is used by the thyroid to stimulate the production of thyroid hormone. Therefore, consuming an insufficient amount of this mineral will result in lower levels of thyroid hormones. Without iodine — or without enough iodine — your thyroid won’t be able to produce a sufficient amount of hormones, leaving you susceptible to hypothyroidism. To raise your thyroid hormone levels back to a normal, healthy amount, you need to consume plenty of iodine in your diet. Iodine occurs naturally in many common foods, including fish, shrimp, scallops, milk, cheese, bread and even table salt. Just remember to choose healthy and nutritious sources of iodine that aren’t loaded with filler ingredients like sugar.

 

 

Stay Physically Active

The amount of exercise you perform (or don’t perform) can affect your risk of developing hypothyroidism. Unfortunately, general fatigue is a hallmark symptom of this thyroid disorder. When your thyroid hormone levels drop, so will your energy. If you’re able to muster the motivation and willpower to exercise, however, you may notice less-severe symptoms of hypothyroidism. Exercise stimulates your heart and lungs while subsequently boosting your metabolism. And because hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism, exercise can counter the effects of this thyroid disorder.

Here are some tips on how to exercise if you suffer from hypothyroidism:

  • Exercise during the early morning hours when you have the most energy.
  • Eat a small snack before exercising.
  • Perform low- or moderate-intensity exercise rather than vigorous, high-intensity exercise.
  • Take breaks between exercise sessions to rest.
  • Dedicate at least 30 minutes to exercising each day.

 

Don’t Skip Meals

Use caution to avoid skipping meals, especially if you have hypothyroidism or if you’re at risk for developing hypothyroidism. While some people believe fasting is an effective way to lose weight fast, it can backfire by disrupting your thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones. When you skip meals, your metabolism will drop. With hypothyroidism, low metabolism is already a common symptom, so you need to eat meals and snacks at regular intervals to keep your metabolism high.

 

Get More Vitamin B

Adding your vitamin B to your diet, whether it’s from food or supplements, can also help if you have hypothyroidism. One study found that nearly two in five patients suffering from hypothyroidism had low levels of vitamin B in their bloodstream. This is because vitamin B is responsible for many metabolic processes in the body, some of which include the synthesis of fatty acids, protein conversion and even DNA processes.

 

Evaluate Your Diet

Finally, take a step back to evaluate your diet as a whole. The foods you eat and the beverages you drink will affect your thyroid gland’s ability to produce hormones. Soy, for example, has been shown to reduce thyroid activity, making it a poor choice for individuals suffering from hypothyroidism. Foods containing gluten may also disrupt your thyroid activity, especially if you have celiac disease. The bottom line is that you need to evaluate your diet to ensure it’s based around nutritious foods and beverages that stimulate thyroid activity rather than suppress or disrupt it.

 

To learn more about Atlanta Chiro and Wellness’s chiropractic and integrative medicine services, contact us today.

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