What Is Hypothyroidism and How Can It Be Prevented?
Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland produces abnormally low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). It affects approximately 1 in 1,000 men and 1 in 50 women and has a number of unpleasant symptoms including depression, tiredness and weight gain. In this article I’m going to be a taking a deeper look at hypothyroidism, the causes, the symptoms and the ways you can prevent it.
What Causes Hypothyroidism?
Hypothyroidism generally develops when the thyroid gland gets damaged in some way and cannot produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones. However, it can also be caused by dietary factors and consuming certain medications. The list below outlines the main causes of hypothyroidism:
1) Autoimmune Thyroiditis: Autoimmune thyroiditis (also known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) is a disease where the immune system malfunctions and creates antibodies that attack your thyroid gland. This then gradually inhibits the thyroid gland’s ability to produce T3 and T4 and slowly leads to the development hypothyroidism. Autoimmune thyroiditis is one of the leading causes of hypothyroidism but unfortunately, like with many autoimmune diseases, the trigger behind it is unknown.
2) Thyroid Surgery: Thyroid surgery can sometimes damage the thyroid gland and limit the amount of thyroid hormones it can produce.
3) Thyroid Radiotherapy: Thyroid radiotherapy often has a similar affect to thyroid surgery and can damage the thyroid gland which in turn minimizes the amount of T3 and T4 it can produce.
4) Iodine Deficiency: Your body uses iodine to produce both T3 and T4, so if you don’t get enough of this nutrient in your diet, your body can’t produce adequate amounts of these hormones.
5) Medications: Taking certain medications can interfere with the thyroid gland and prevent it from producing adequate levels of thyroid hormones.
6) Problems With The Pituitary Gland:In some rare instances, the pituitary gland does not produce enough thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). As the name suggests, TSH stimulates the thyroid gland to produce T3 and T4, so if the pituitary gland does not produce enough TSH, the thyroid gland will not produce enough thyroid hormones.
What Are The Symptoms Of Hypothyroidism?
Since hypothyroidism is characterized by low levels of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4 which affect a huge number of processes in the body (including your body temperature, heart rate, growth and metabolism), it has a wide range of symptoms which include:
- Brittle Hair & Nails
- Memory Loss
- Muscle Aches & Pains
- Weight Gain
How Can Hypothyroidism Be Prevented?
Although many of the causes of hypothyroidism cannot be fully prevented, keeping your thyroid gland healthy is one of the best ways to protect yourself against this condition. The list below highlights three natural ways to keep your thyroid healthy and fight hypothyroidism:
1) Eat Foods That Enhance Thyroid Function: The B complex vitamins, iodine, iron and omega 3 essential fatty acids are all believed to enhance the function of the thyroid gland, allow it to produce more thyroid hormones and prevent hypothyroidism. Some of the best food sources of these nutrients include beef, dairy products and salmon.
2) Avoid Foods That Inhibit Thyroid Function: Not all foods are good for your thyroid gland and studies have shown that soy and many cruciferous vegetables can actually inhibit thyroid function when consumed in large quantities. These foods still have many other health benefits, so there’s no need to eliminate them from your diet completely. However, if you currently eat large amounts of these foods, you should moderate your consumption.
3) Exercise Regularly: According to this article from Coach Calorie, high intensity exercise increases the amount of TSH in your blood stream. As discussed earlier in this article, TSH stimulates the production of T3 and T4 which means regular exercise could protect against hypothyroidism.
I hope this article has helped you learn more about hypothyroidism and the natural ways it can be prevented. While the natural solutions listed won’t protect against all instances of hypothyroidism, they will strengthen your thyroid gland, keep it healthy and reduce your risk. So if you’re not doing so already, follow the three thyroid boosting tips discussed above and give your body all the tools it needs to fight hypothyroidism.
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