Thyroid -The Master of Metabolism
I want to talk to you about something that may well be robbing you of your energy.
And when you have no energy or feel lethargic the last thing you want to do is go and train.
I don’t know about you, but I want max energy to get the most out of what I am doing, so lets delve deeper to see how this affects you and how to make sure it is firing on all cylinders.
What are we talking about?
If you feel wiped out, there may be something that you should consider, especially if it is ongoing or chronic…
What are we talking about here?
Your thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits at the base of the throat. It controls your metabolism, which is your body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy.
We are all unique and “burn” fuel at different rates. As food essentially fuels your body you can see that this could be a real issue if what controls your energy output is impaired.
Comments such as “fast metabolism” or “slow or sluggish metabolism” are related to not only how effective your body is at creating that energy, but the type of fuel you put in. If you constantly putting in toxic food, you are robbing yourself of your performance. Just like poor fuel for a car, you just won’t get what you need to get you where you want to go.
Now I for one want to perform at my best every time I am fighting and I certainly don’t want to lose based on lack of energy output!
How does it work?
The thyroid gets is instructions from the hypothalamus at the base of the brain by way of the pituitary gland, which is the master endocrine (hormone) gland.
Essentially, a signal from the hypothalamus tells the pituitary to send thyroid stimulating hormone to the thyroid for it to release thyroid hormones (T4) and (T3).
If everything goes as it is supposed to, you will make what you need and the hormones T4 will be converted to T3. The production and release of thyroid hormone in the thyroid gland is regulated by a feedback loop, creating a dynamic balance, continually controlling the levels of thyroid hormones you need.
Every cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormone. These hormones impact virtually every system in the body and are responsible for most basic aspects of bodily functions.
Importantly, thyroid hormones increase the metabolic rate of almost every tissue in the body. If you can imagine the thyroid gland as a furnace and the pituitary gland as the thermostat and thyroid hormones are like heat. When the heat gets back to the thermostat it switches off, until the temperature drops and so the thyroid once more is fired up sending thyroid hormones round the body.
Assuming the endocrine system is healthy and functional, this goes off without a hitch.
However, if the liver is “backed up” with toxins from poor food choices oryour body has oestrogen dominance or if insulin is imbalanced and dysfunctional, or even cortisol levels are uncontrolled (as is the case with adrenal fatigue), this system becomes dysfunctional.
One of the main nutrients needed for thyroid health is iodine. Since we cannot produce it in the body ourselves, we have to ingest it via the food we eat. It is commonly found in food such as salt water fish (e.g. Cod, Salmon, Tuna, Sardines etc), shellfish, sea vegetables, seaweed and eggs. You can also supplement it in your diet.
The number one cause of hypothyroidism or low thyroid function is iodine deficiency. It is stated that around 2.2 billion people around the world suffer from iodine deficiency to some degree, so it is important that you make sure you have sufficient daily.
Thyroid cells are the only cells in the body that can use and absorb iodine. Along with the amino acid tyrosine, iodine is used by cells to make T3 and T4.
T3 is critical for your cells to signal them to turn up your metabolism and increase fat burning in your mitochondria. Mitochondria are your cells powerhouses, which create energy for your body to use. This is why T3 helps lower cholesterol, keeps you lean, relieves muscle aches and improves memory.
If your body produces too little T3 or if T4 is not converted to T3, your whole system becomes dysfunctional as your metabolism and mitochondria don’t get the correct signals. This results in the opposite effect, namely weight gain and general symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
Other deficiencies in the following vitamins and minerals can also cause thyroid issues.
- Vitamins B2, B3 and B6
- Vitamin A
By now I hope you can see that it doesn’t take much to cause a thyroid problem, making it difficult to lose weight no matter what diet you are on or training program you use.
Stress can play a major impact on your thyroid
Chronic stress results in raised cortisol and adrenalin levels, which has a negative impact on thyroid function. They are intrinsically linked, so if stress is high Thyroid function is low.
Under periods of chronic stress adrenalin and cortisol produced by the adrenal glands interfere with thyroid hormones and can contribute to weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and whole host of other symptoms.
Using Thyroid medications alongside prolonged adrenal fatigue will most likely fail to work. If your adrenal system is burnt out due to prolonged stress, the burden of thyroid medication will actually cause even more stress. It is like pouring petrol on a fire.
It is important to consider the role of the adrenals when assessing thyroid issues. Otherwise, it is possible that a doctor would prescribe even higher doses!
Your adrenals actually need rest through proper stress management (See April 2014’s article on cortisol and stress to find out how)
Environmental toxins also play a major part in your thyroid health. There are a number of heavy metals and chemicals that find their way into our everyday lives that just don’t belong.
It is this acceptance that we think things are safe when they really aren’t that really winds me up and should be addressed as quickly as possible. Health should be our number one concern, but is often the last thing we address, sometimes to our detriment.
These are just a few, which you should be aware of:
- PCBS (Polychlorinated biphenyls) alter thyroid hormones in humans. Their structure is very close to that of thyroid hormones and so once in the body interfere with their function. Food can be a major source of PCBS from farmed fish and animal fat. That is why it is so important to each wild caught fish and organic meats.
- Mercury – Considering this is the 2nd most toxic metal on the planet next to plutonium, I am astounded that mercury makes up parts of the amalgam fillings that dentists use to fill cavities in your mouth. Even though it is deemed safe I don’t believe it for a second! Mercury leeches into our bodies and can migrate into your thyroid gland and block iodine reaching the thyroid.
- Fluoride – A Common additive of water supplies and of course in dental hygiene, many studies have proven that fluoride has no effect on preventing dental cavities. In fact up to the 1950’s doctors used fluoride to reduce the activity of the thyroid gland for people with over active thyroids (hyperthyroidism)
- Chlorine – Also blocks iodine in the body. So chlorinated water for drinking and bathing should be kept to a minimum. If you have ever seen chlorine added to a swimming pool for example, hazmat suits are worn to protect the worker!
- Bromine – This is very common in everyday lives and prevents the absorption of iodine in the thyroid and stomach. It is scary that this finds its way into many parts of our lives:
Flours and other grains
Pesticides on fruits and vegetables
A fire retardant on carpets and furniture
Carbonated drinks and plastics in cars and computers
Being aware of your environment is essential to our health. We take far too much for granted. Time to become more aware of what goes on around us and not taking things for granted with our health!
Since all of these play a part on the health of your thyroid, if at all possible eliminate as many from your life as possible.
There can be one or a number of symptoms that point to poor thyroid health.
If you are nodding your head to the following symptoms, you may be suffering from hypothyroidism, which occurs when the production, conversion and action or your thyroid hormones are inhibited. This results in too little thyroid hormone in your blood.
- Lethargy or sluggishness
- Cold all the time?
- Cracked nails
- dry, coarse or thinning hair
- weight gain
- morning headaches
What can you do?
So what can you do about it?
Low thyroid is very common and below are some things you can add to your diet to nourish your thyroid:
- Fresh Orange juice: Freshly squeezed by your good self (not the stuff in a box) is pro thyroid as it contains good amount of magnesium to work with thyroid to moderate stress. It also increases glucuronic acid which combines with other substances such as drugs, toxins, and hormones, and either carry’s them to other parts of the body or eliminates them through detoxification processes. This combining makes substances more water-soluble and easier to pass out of the body through the urine.
- Bone Broth Or Gelatine: Bone broth or gelatine is a Godsend for thyroid function as it is incredibly nourishing and healing to the mucous membranes of the intestinal lining, incredibly good for “leaky gut” or IBS. Both bone broth and gelatine are nourishing for those with Celiac’s Disease or a gluten intolerance due to their rich proline and glycine amino acid profile as years of “micro tearing” from whole grains due to gliadins, lectins, and gluten take their toll on the villi of the intestines. Glycine is the simple amino acid imperative to the manufacturing process of other amino acids. It is vital in the body for the production of heme, the part of the blood that carries oxygen. It is also involved in glucogenesis (the manufacturing of glucose for energy), supports digestion by boosting HCL (hydrochloric acid) and other gastric secretions. The great thing about bone broth is it requires little work to make yet is such as nourishing feed, just get the bones on boil and away you go!
- Healthy saturated fat: Coconuts are like a food of the gods. Everything from the meat to the milk are nutritious to humans. In particular, coconut oil is very pro thyroid food. It contains lauric acid. They are Medium chain fatty acids (MCT’s) that not only give you instant energy and curbing carb cravings but also stimulates your metabolism and your thyroid for hours.
- Well ripened fruit: Fruit will help refuel the liver with glycogen to resume its role in thyroid hormone synthesis (the conversion of t4 to t3 requires glucose), my suggestion would be try tropical fruits such as mango and pineapple.
- High Quality protein: The best proteins are anti-inflammatory protein such as free range eggs from chicken’s, wild fish, shellfish and raw milk and or unprocessed raw cheese.
- Supplement With Iodine: Iodine cannot be produced by the body as you know so supplementing is a great way of making sure you get enough.
Try adding some of these specific foods to a clean “non toxic” diet to start nourish your thyroid and let me know how you feel.
To your strength and Health
(Reproduced from my article in Martial Arts Illustrated Ed Sept 2014)