Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Part 7: Thyroid

Part 7: Thyroid

Your thyroid is the powerhouse of your metabolism. It plays critical functions in regulating your metabolism, body weight, and energy levels. It also plays important roles in regulating your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, appetite, blood cholesterol and lipid metabolism, digestion, carbohydrate metabolism, growth and repair, cognition, musculoskeletal health, reproduction, nervous system, and more. Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland found at the base of your neck, just below the larynx. It is in charge of “fueling” almost every cell function in your body, from metabolism, mood, cognition, hormones, heart rate, to growth and repair. Your thyroid is what can “decide” if you lose weight, have energy, are fatigued, have a normal menstrual cycle, feel depressed or anxious, or can focus (or not) on day-to-day work tasks. Basically, your thyroid is the ultimate queen in your body, so it’s important to respect it, honor it, and make sure it’s optimized.

Key components of your thyroid: 

-T4 (Thyroxine)- the inactive form of thyroid hormone can convert to either T3 or RT3 

-T3 (Triiodothyronine)- the active form of your thyroid hormone that is responsible for thyroid hormone’s work and actions in the body 

-RT3 (Reverse Triiodothyronine)- the inactive form of thyroid hormone produced from T4 mainly due to stress, infection, cortisol dysregulation, or nutrient deficiencies 

-TRH (Thyrotropin-releasing hormone)- a hormone produced by your hypothalamus that stimulates the release of TSH from your pituitary gland. It is regulated by T4 and T3 blood levels. 

-TSH (Thyrotropin-stimulating hormone)- a hormone produced by your pituitary gland that stimulates your thyroid to produce T4 and T3 

-TPO (thyroid peroxidase)- an enzyme found in your thyroid gland that is involved in the production of T3 and T4. Thyroid peroxidase converts iodide into iodine in the body, which is required to attach to tyrosine in a thyroglobulin molecule to create thyroid hormone. Elevated TPO antibodies are found in Hashimoto’s which causes autoimmune attack of the thyroid and lowers the production of thyroid hormone produced 

-Calcitonin: secreted by the thyroid when high calcium levels are found in the blood and inhibits calcium release from the bone

Does this sound familiar? Dry or thinning hair, hair loss, fatigue, depression, brain fog or reduced mental clarity, hoarseness of voice, goiter, enlarged thyroid gland, dry skin, low perspiration, muscle loss, muscle aches or weakness, joint pain, constipation, weight gain or trouble losing weight, bradycardia (low resting heart rate, usually below 60 bpm), hypertension, elevated LDL, infertility, abnormal sex hormones, peripheral neuropathy, cold intolerance, cold hands and feet, and an irregular menstrual cycle?

Additional digestive effects include: 

-Decreased absorption of nutrients (creating potential deficiencies)

-Increased risk of estrogen dominance and hormonal imbalance (if estrogen is not properly metabolized and excreted, it recirculates)

-Reduced immunity and serotonin creation (hello getting sick, mood swings, anxiety, and depression) 

-Inflammation- This inflammation can create autoimmune attack, further thyroid inhibition, and then cause intestinal permeability which can create “food intolerances” that really aren’t intolerances- just full body inflammation.

Your thyroid hormone production requires nutrients such as iron, iodine, tyrosine, zinc, selenium, vitamin E, B2, B6, vitamin C, and vitamin D. Low T3 can hinder growth and development (causing decreased workout recovery or muscle growth), decrease metabolic rate (causing weight gain or struggles with weight loss), lower fat mobilization and carb metabolism (further hindering your metabolism), slow gut motility (causing constipation, gas, and bloating), decrease protein synthesis (contributing to muscle loss), decrease mental clarity (causing forgetfulness or brain fog), lower reproductive hormones (contributing to PMS problems, infertility, or endometriosis), and lower body temperature and heart rate (causing bradycardia and impaired exercise tolerance). High T3 can result in the complete opposite of low T3. 

Diets that have been found to help with thyroid issues:

-Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) The SCD is “a treatment to induce remission of active inflammation” and is commonly used now to help alleviate Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory bowel disease, as well as with SIBO management (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). 

-Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet (GAPS) GAPS is “designed to heal and seal the gut lining, rebalance the immune system, and restore the optimal bacterial ecosystem within the GI tract.” -Paleo & Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP) The AIP diet “addresses underlying inflammation stemming from the gut and brings the microbiota back into balance while optimizing nutrient intake.”

Potential Supplements and Nutrients for All Types of Thyroid Disorders: 

-Omega-3s: help to support the immune system, cell membrane integrity, and decrease inflammation. Omega 3’s can be found in animal proteins such as chicken, red meat, fish, eggs, as well as in flax, chia, or hemp seeds, soy beans, seaweed, algae, and walnuts.

-Curcumin: helps to reduce inflammation and combat oxidative damage. Curcumin can be found in turmeric, however the active component is most concentrated in supplement form. -Multivitamin: acts as a micronutrient “safety net” to ensure your body has the necessary cofactors and nutrients for energy production (methylated forms needed based on genetics, such as MTHFR mutation) 

-Vitamin D with K2 (based on Vitamin D levels): low levels of Vitamin D are linked to weak bones, insulin resistance, depressed immune system, low energy levels, and increased risk of auto-immune flares. K2 is required for Vitamin D metabolism and prevention of calcium loss from bone, therefore make sure to take a Vitamin D with K2 included. Natural sources include dairy, salmon, eggs, sardines, liver, fish, mushrooms, orange juice, and tofu. 

-Magnesium: fights inflammation, serves as a cofactor in regulating Vitamin D levels, helps stabilize blood sugar, regulates blood pressure, and supports a healthy immune system. Magnesium is required from T4 to T3 conversion and can aid in improving Vitamin D levels and decreasing risk of renal stones caused by high calcium levels. Magnesium is also depleted with high stress, so magnesium may be warranted if cortisol dysregulation is present. Natural sources of magnesium include chocolate, spinach, avocados, tofu, nuts, and whole grains. -Vitamin A: deficiency may increase autoimmune disease development and worsen hypothyroidism. Vitamin A is required for iodine uptake and a deficiency may be seen with or worsen iodine deficiency. Vitamin A may also aid in reversing iron deficiency as it increases iron absorption by mobilizing stored iron into erythrocytes. It also participates in the uptake of T3 in your cells. Vitamin A can be found in dairy, fatty fish, animal proteins, and is highly concentrated within the liver. If deficient, a liver supplement may be necessary. 

-B-vitamins: B-vitamins help in the production of thyroid hormone, energy creation, serve as cofactors to the creation of other vitamins/minerals, and participate in the formation of red blood such as B12, are common deficiencies seen in hypothyroidism and may cause of exacerbate thyroid issues. B vitamins can be found in animal proteins and plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, and dark leafy greens. B-vitamins become depleted with high cortisol and stress, therefore ensuring to check for a deficiency is suggested with any suspected thyroid or adrenal imbalance. 

-Zinc: required for the creation of TSH, T4 to T3 conversion, as well as immune function, protein synthesis, and cell growth and division. Zinc is also required for the transport of Vitamin A to be used by the cell. Low zinc can prevent the creation of stomach acid, which can lead down to gut dysbiosis and nutrient deficiencies. Take with caution and watch your levels, as zinc can compete with copper for absorption. 

-Copper: this mineral works alongside iron to help form red blood cells that transport oxygen throughout your body. It also plays a major role in energy production, nerve cell function, collagen formation, and immune health. Copper can be found in nuts, seeds, cocoa, leafy greens, legumes, whole grains, and organ meats. Because copper is required to help transport iron in the body, a copper deficiency may worsen or be a leading cause of iron deficiency. -Selenium: aids in T4 to T3 thyroid conversion and may help to reduce thyroid antibodies. Selenium may also help to prevent damage of excessive iodine and reduce oxidative damage from antibody attack. Natural sources of selenium can be easily found in brazil nuts. 

-Vitamin C: this vitamin is required for preventing free radical damage, supporting a healthy immune system, and helping aid in iron absorption. It also plays a crucial role in adrenal function and deficiency can lead to adrenal stress and impairment of the HPA axis. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, leafy greens, and peppers. High levels of vitamin C compete with copper so make sure to assess levels for a balance. 

-N-acetyl cysteine: helps to support glutathione levels which are involved in immune regulation and liver detoxification. NAC may also aid in female egg quality and serve as a biofilm disruptor for gut dysbiosis. 

-Iron: required for the conversion of T4 to T3 as well as the production of red blood cells. Without iron, red blood cells can not carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Iron is also required to make hormones in the body. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, hypothyroidism, GI upset, weakness, and a depressed immune system. Focus on heme sources (animal sources) of iron such as eggs, chicken, red meats, and liver. Iron excess can heavily increase inflammation in the body (hemochromatosis), therefore make sure to do a full iron panel prior to supplementation. (Look for serum iron, % saturation, TIBC, ferritin, and hemoglobin levels). -Iodine (depending on blood iodine levels): required for the synthesis of thyroid hormone. Too much or too little can cause hypo or hyperthyroidism. Iodine is required for almost every cell of the body. Iron competes with copper, so make sure to balance with this mineral. 

-Digestive enzymes and probiotics, if warranted: can help in the digestive and absorption of food and participate in a healthy gut microbiome.