The Importance of a Healthy Thyroid Gland

The Importance of
a Healthy Thyroid Gland

The Importance of a Healthy Thyroid Gland

The importance of a healthy thyroid gland for optimum body functioning cannot be over-stated. It plays an essential role in the functioning of every cell in the body. Therefore, ensuring it functions well should be a priority for everyone.

The thyroid gland is soft butterfly-shaped gland positioned in the lower neck. It produces two hormones T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These hormones affect the functioning of all cells in the body.

Most of the thyroid hormone produced is T4 (approximately 95%) and is considered to be 'inactive'. T3 is considered to be the 'active' thyroid hormone and is produced when one iodine is cleaved from T4. This process generally occurs in the liver with around 60% of the T4 being converted into T3, 20% being converted into reverse T3 (rT3) and the remaining being converted into T3S and T3AC (these last two hormones are inactive until affected by an enzyme produced by the gut bacteria).

Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, control body temperature, maintain optimal calcium levels, and have an influence on heart health and nerve function. The hormones also play a very important role in brain development in infants and are necessary for normal reproductive function. As a result, the thyroid gland affects several crucial body functions right from birth and throughout your life. Hence the importance of a healthy thyroid gland cannot be overstated.

With normal thyroid functioning, the levels of T3 (and T4) are maintained within a carefully controlled range. Since the thyroid hormones control the metabolism of all body cells, the body's metabolic rate is also controlled by the thyroid gland. Optimal body metabolism means your weight is under control and your energy levels are high. Since metabolic rate affects the body's generation of heat the thyroid gland regulates body temperature as well.

What Happens When the Thyroid Gland Doesn't Function as well as it Should?

Thyroid problems arise from either underproduction (hypothyroidism) or overproduction (hyperthyroidism) of thyroid hormones.


Effects of Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is the more common of the two thyroid problems and occurs when the thyroid gland produces insufficient amounts of T3 and/ or T4. Alternatively, it may also result from an insufficient conversion of T4 into T3 or excessive conversion of T4 into rT3. The production of thyroid hormones as well as the process of converting T4 into T3 involves numerous steps. Since many steps are involved it is surprisingly easy for mistakes to occur and as a result it is estimated that at least 10% of the population suffer from an underactive thyroid gland.

The direct impact of hypothyroidism is a slowing down of the body's metabolism. This causes the following effects:

  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Constipation
  • Dry/ itchy skin
  • Brittle hair/ nails
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Slow wound healing
  • Unrefreshing sleep
  • Hair loss
  • Digestive problems
  • Water retention
  • Lateral third of eyebrow thining

  • Effects of Hyperthyroidism

    In hyperthyroidism, which often results from an autoimmune condition, the thyroid gland is overactive, producing excessive quantities of T3 and T4. This super charges your metabolism and speeds up all body activities causing the following effects:
  • Weight loss
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Eye-bulging
  • Swelling of the thyroid gland
  • Increased or decreased energy (depending on the stage)
  • Sweating
  • Fatigue

  • What You Need to do to Optimise Your Thyroid Functioning?

    1. Improve your gut function

    Your gut plays many important roles associated with optimum thyroid hormone production. Firstly, it is involved in nutrient absorption into the body and there are many nutrients required for optimum thyroid functioning. Also, healthy colonies of good bacteria in the gut assist with the conversion of T4 into T3 because they produce an enzyme, sulfatase.

    Gut problems may lead to thyroid dysfunction through a variety of mechanisms. Food sensitivities, food intolerances, an imbalance of gut bacteria, and a parasitic or viral infection may all cause gut problems, resulting in thyroid dysfunction.

    The best way to avoid gut problems is to do the following:

  • Avoid potential food allergens. These may include dairy foods, gluten-containing foods, soy products, eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, corn, and shellfish.
  • Remove viral infections or parasites. Antibiotics or suitable natural alternative treatments such as, black walnut, barberry, wormwood, garlic and peppermint are all useful. BCN's HemoGard contains a high-quality garlic extract and DigestEZE (BCN's gut soothing, repair and prebiotic formula) contains peppermint oil.
  • Use probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are 'good' bacteria and by taking them, especially after a course of antibiotics, you can help increase the number of 'good' bacteria in your gut. This will dramatically improve your gut function. Prebiotics are various types of soluble fibre. These provide food for the 'good' bacteria in the gut, helping them multiply effectively. An example of a high-quality prebiotic is BCN's Gastro Forte AG. Prebiotics are also contained in DigestEZE.

  • 2. Ensure that your liver functions well

    Your liver is the main organ that performs the conversion of T4 ('inactive') into T3 ('active'). This process may be impaired if it has to deal with excessive toxins or hormones, poor nutritional habits or excessive alcohol intake.

    Therefore, the best way to ensure that your liver functions well is to minimise your intake of processed foods and emphasise natural foods as much as possible. These can be obtained from your local IGA supermarket. Drink plenty of clean, filtered, fresh water as well. It is also beneficial to work with your doctor to reduce or eliminate your use of medications if possible. Finally, minimise your alcohol intake as much as possible.

    3. Reduce your stress levels

    Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in the body. Prolonged production of this hormone causes major problems with the thyroid gland and thyroid hormone production.

    Firstly, cortisol inhibits the production of TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) in the pituitary gland by disrupting the hypothalamic-pituitary feedback mechanism. Cortisol also damages the part of the immune system that lines the gut. This may result in a 'leaky gut', allowing toxins and foreign particles into the body. This leads to 'liver overload'. Cortisol also prevents the regeneration of cells that line the gastrointestional tract, which increases the risk of ulcers. This leads to further gut problems caused by mould, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and which also causes more cortisol to be produced.

    The best ways to reduce your production of cortisol is to do the following: perform meditation or breathing exercises, use relaxation techniques, or take adaptogenic herbs, like rhodiola rosea, withania, and Siberian ginseng. All of these herbs are contained in BCN's Thyron.

    4. Avoid eating goitrogenic foods in their raw state

    Goitrogens are compounds in certain foods that inhibit the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland. Iodine is an essential mineral for optimum thyroid gland functioning. The good news is that goitrogens can be neutralised by lightly steaming, fermenting or cooking the foods that contain them.

    Foods that contain goitrogens include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, pernuts, kale, cabbage, turnips, sweet potatoes, and kelp.

    5. Ensure you consume all
    the required nutrients every day

    There is a variety of nutrients that are required for optimum thyroid functioning. These nutrients may be obtained through your diet or through supplementation. However, since it is difficult to know whether or not you're getting the required nutrients, or if you're getting them in the required amounts, supplementation is definitely worthwhile. BCN's Thyron contains all of the nutrients your body requires for optimum thyroid functioning. It is great 'thyroid insurance'.

    There is no doubting the importance of proper thyroid gland functioning and thyroid hormone production for good health of your body, a suitable body weight, and optimum energy levels. Therefore, you must ensure that you take each of the 5 steps listed here to support your body's thyroid functioning.

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    Here is the complete list of thyroid articles:

    T3 and T4 Thyroid Hormones

    Thyroid Disease Caused By Inflammation

    The Ideal Thyroid Diet For You

    Thyroid Diet Foods and Nutrients

    The Importance of a Healthy Thyroid Gland

    What Causes Thyroid Disease Symptoms?

    Do You Have Low Thyroid Symptoms?

    Alternative Thyroid Treatments

    How Stress Affects Your Thyroid

    What is Hashimoto Thyroiditis?

    Reverse T3- The Hidden Cause of Thyroid Problems

    Should You Use a Thyroid Supplement?

    The Causes of Thyroid Problems

    Underactive Thyroid and Nutritional Deficiencies

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