Your Thyroid is a magical little organ. It sits in the middle of your throat, shaped like a beautiful butterfly. It is the orchestrator of metabolism, and plays big roles in growth and development of your body. The thyroid releases thyroid hormone T3 and T4, into your body all the time, and needs the help of your pituitary gland in your brain to help with regulating just how much it pumps out. If the orchestra is in sync, everything works beautifully, if not, you will start to notice some symptoms that could mean that this orchestra is not playing to the same beat. This is when you need to investigate, as this is potentially thyroid dysfunction.
Thyroid dysfunction is common, and it’s especially common amongst the ladies. There are 10x more women diagnosed with thyroid dysfunction in Australia than men. This is thought to
be because of the autoimmune nature of thyroid dysfunction and disease and the things women go through in their lives like stress, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause (hands up?) which are where we see shifting hormones and an assault on the immune system. There are also links between thyroid dysfunction and genetics, as well as environmental assaults that are attributed to thyroid dysfunction. It's a lot right?
So an investigation might see there is too much thyroid hormone being released, this is known as hyperthyroidism. Or there might not be enough thyroid hormone being released, this is known as hypothyroidism. So here's what's actually happening and what might you be feeling?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the most common form of autoimmune thyroiditis. Autoantibodies and autoreactive lymphocytes attack the thyroid gland leading to inflammation, enlargement of the gland, and eventual cell death. The damaged thyroid fails to function normally and production of thyroid hormones is decreased.
If this is you, you might feel common symptoms of swelling at the front of the throat (goitre), fatigue, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, muscle aches, constipation, low mood. And now is a good time to see your GP to check in.
Graves’ disease is the most common form of hyperthyroidism. It is triggered by the immune system producing autoantibodies that stimulate TSH receptors and excessive thyroid hormone production.
If this is you, you might notice sudden weight loss with increased appetite, loose bowel motions, difficulty sleeping, heart palpations, hand tremors, restlessness, irritability, shortness of breath, protruding eyes. Again, this might be a good time to see your GP to check in.
If you receive a diagnosis of thyroid dysfunction or disease from your GP, it will most likely be from a blood test alongside your presenting symptoms. Medication is frequently prescribed to help you manage the disease and your symptoms, and you will feel relief. Great. But can I introduce the notion that there is more you can do to support your overall health when you receive a thyroid disease diagnosis. Here's how.
Holistic Nutrition Therapy
A Certified Practicing Nutritionist (like me) can support you and your thyroid function with holistic Nutrition Therapy. It’s not just a list of foods to eat and avoid, and it’s not a diet we photocopy and hand out (so it starts to go really grey and illegible due to so many photocopies - no ma'am). It’s tailored therapy individual to you to help you manage your diagnosis, empower your understanding of what's going on in your body and support your long term health and wellbeing.
We help to
create a positive relationship with food through understanding which foods make you feel well, and which foods will exacerbate symptoms, bringing you closer to cooking meals you feel like eating, encouraging you to forage for food in an intentional way, helping you recognise hunger and fullness, empowering you to meal plan and have au
tonomy over your choices.
educate you on the ingredients in particular foods that will support your diagnosis and massage your thyroid.
develop your own strategies to manage and cope with stress, with a goal to dampen the stress response to ameliorate exposure to stress manifestations, supporting thyroid function.
support your thyroid journey with ongoing care and pathology (alongside your GP) and peace of mind knowing you have support and flexibility (if needed) to your whole treatment.
upporting your overall health during illness and disease is invaluable. Reach out if you need that help.
Recipe to support your sluggish thyroid health
Nourishing Nori Bowl
Oven baked salmon marinated in sesame, coconut aminos, honey and chilli
1 cup Brown rice
1 cup of cashews (soaked for 6 hours and drained)
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
Place all components delicately in a low sided bowl, and top with cashew cre
am and a variety of seeds
** Nori is high in iodine, which is essential for thyroid hormone synthesis.
Recipe to support overactive thyroid health
Roasted sweet potato
1 cup cooked Quinoa
Canned chick peas (raw or roasted)
Green Tahini dressing
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic c
1 cup of baby spinach and other herbs
Juice of one lemon
Added water for desired consistency
Place all components delicately in a low sided bowl and top with green ta
hini dressing and a variety of seeds
* Broccoli and other greens like kale and swiss chard
stabilise thyroid hormone synthesis.