The thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly and is located in the front region of your neck. Despite being located in a strange place, this gland is essential for producing hormones, many of which will affect your overall metabolic rate and your performance in the gym. If it doesn’t work well, you will soon start to notice the signs of thyroid problems.
5 reasons why you have thyroid problems and how to avoid them
Thyroid problems are surprisingly common, affecting more than 20 million people in the United States alone. But what do you need to know about it?
The thyroid glands do not work alone: they work in conjunction with the adrenal glands to produce hormones. The adrenal glands are responsible for releasing cortisol, which is a stress management hormone.
Excess stress can strain the adrenal glands and cause them to produce excess cortisol to which you will become increasingly resistant. This imbalance will cause your metabolism to slow down, leading to weight gain, more stress, insulin resistance, blood sugar problems, and slowed or stopped thyroid function.
Here are some ways to manage stress:
- Eat well.
- Have a good sleep schedule.
- Follow a daily to-do list.
- Meditate and manage your breath.
- Taking time for self-care or relaxation.
- Hang out with trusted friends or family.
- Consume all the necessary nutrients, vitamins and minerals.
Autoimmune conditions are possibly the most common cause of thyroid problems. Autoimmune diseases are disorders in which your immune system becomes confused and begins to attack your own body. Common conditions (and medical circumstances) that lead to thyroid problems are:
- Graves’ disease.
- Hashimoto’s disease.
- Thyroid surgery.
- Genetic conditions.
- Radiation therapy.
To avoid late detection that can cause complications, make sure you are aware of your blood tests. Go to scheduled checkups, ask questions if you have doubts, and don’t hide your symptoms. Early diagnosis can do wonders.
Chronic inflammation is the start of many, many diseases, and thyroid problems are one of them. Natural pain is healthy and only happens when you are injured, which is why cuts burn or muscles feel sore after a workout. They are inflamed and therefore healing.
But when the gland starts to produce inflammation constantly, it can end up becoming a chronic inflammation. This condition can trigger cortisol production in the body, and it also leads to increased production of certain hormones in your body.
Here are some ways to reduce chronic inflammation:
- Eat anti-inflammatory foods and avoid inflammatory ones.
- Learn to better manage stress (see tips above).
- Make sure you exercise for a minimum of 150 minutes per week.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced weight.
- Monitor your blood sugar level.
There are toxins everywhere, and they all cause hormonal functions to suffer, leading to the thyroid gland to suffer.
The most common toxins that affect people in this way are polybrominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, and many, many more. It is best to stay away from any product unless you know its ingredients for sure.
Overdose or underdoes of vitamins
In many cases, lack of nutrition is what leads to illness. In the case of thyroid problems, overdoses are also a common factor to consider. Here are some common vitamin overdoses and underdoes that lead to thyroid problems:
Yes, you need iodine for hormone production, and a lack of iodine can also cause thyroid problems. But did you know that consuming an excess of 400 mcg of iodine per day can cause many complications, including that of the thyroid?
In order for the thyroid to produce peroxidase in a healthy and positive way, it needs iron. Without it, thyroid hormones cannot be synthesized, and iron deficiency anemia also opens the door to a variety of diseases.
Vitamin A is able to bind to hormone receptors in the thyroid, increasing a certain type of hormone that is much needed. You can lose up to two-thirds of your thyroid hormones if you don’t pay attention to vitamin A.
The thyroid needs selenium to convert certain types of hormones to others. This nutrient helps protect against autoimmune diseases and also works to promote healthy thyroid function. A deficiency in this can lead to hypothyroidism.
The more selenium you take, the more chromium you will excrete. That is why it is a good idea to pay attention to your daily intake of this little-known vitamin.
How to avoid thyroid problems?
Many chemicals can be toxic to the thyroid gland, and these are chemicals that you will want to avoid. These chemicals are often called endocrine disruptors, and they seriously affect your hormonal system, as that term suggests. The chemicals you should avoid are:
- Per fluorinated chemicals. Known simply as PFCs, these chemicals are used to protect against water, fire, and stains.
- These are commonly found in toothpaste, soaps, and other antibacterial products. Also in soft plastics and scented materials.
- Non-stick coatings. Mainly used in pans and kitchen equipment. These can cause a hormonal imbalance.
- Bisphenol A. The notorious BPA is found in the linings of food cans, as well as cheap plastics.
Of course, it is unlikely that you can completely avoid these chemicals, so you have to try to reduce your exposure to them. You can do it in the following way:
- Using essential oils as fragrances.
- Use glass, porcelain, or ceramic containers instead of plastic.
- Use ordinary soap and water to wash your hands.
- Buy more fresh or frozen produce instead of canned food
- Make sure your home has enough ventilation.
- Don’t go on starvation diets.
Fad diets are popular for their rapid effectiveness, but they are objectively terrible for your body in many ways. Not only are you likely to gain all the weight again by the time you stop the diet, but you are also lowering your metabolic rate and exposing yourself to thyroid problems.
According to a study, poorly done fasting causes your primary thyroid hormone that regulates metabolism to decrease its efficiency by 53%.
Many other thyroid hormones also experience a decrease in their levels. Also, cortisol levels increase when you starve, causing you stress because your body thinks it is in danger. As a result, you can start to retain a lot of fat.
A healthy diet is one of the most crucial parts of keeping your thyroid in good working order. This is because 71% of the body’s autoimmune system lives in the intestine. This is called intestinal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT, and research has linked its inflammation to thyroid disease.
Many doctors recommend a Mediterranean diet to control inflammation. It is not strictly necessary, but your meals should include:
- Lean proteins.
- Fatty fish; examples include herring, mackerel, and salmon.
- Three or four servings of fruit a day.
- Four to five servings of vegetables a day.
- Healthy fats; examples include walnuts, olive oil, and avocados.
However, there are also foods to avoid, some of which may surprise you! You should stay away from:
These foods are full of sugars, colors, added preservatives, Tran’s fats, and all kinds of dangerous ingredients. They are also harmful to the entire body, not just the thyroid.
To be fair, soy has many positive benefits for general health. Unfortunately, more and more research has shown that soy affects the body’s ability to absorb levothyroxine, which can interfere with hormone-related medication.
Cruciferous vegetables, raw
Yes, you should even take care of these super healthy veggies. Or rather, you must be careful not to eat them raw. Raw cruciferous vegetables contain goitrogens, which are natural chemicals that can cause thyroid problems.
Examples of these vegetables are Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower, watercress, and cabbage.
Reduce resistance exercise
Resistance exercises, such as spinning classes, long-distance runs, and other similar forms of activity, can be harmful to your thyroid if you do them excessively.
This is for the same reason starvation diets are bad for you: your cortisol levels skyrocket, fewer hormones are produced, and you start storing fat and getting hungry quickly.
So what kinds of workouts can you do? High intensity workouts, especially circuit training, are good options. Short exercises of up to 40 minutes can work very well, allowing maximum fat burning without the excessive cardio that increases cortisol.
Cigarette smoke is full of toxins, including thiocyanate, which disrupts iodine processes, preventing the thyroid from producing your natural hormones.
Smoking can also change the way you produce hormones, and research indicates that smokers are at increased risk for Graves’ disease, which is one of the leading causes of hyperthyroidism worldwide.
Of course, quitting a tobacco addiction is easier said than done. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a doctor. With medical understanding, positive thinking, and a genuine desire to quit smoking, you can put your smoking days behind you.
Be careful with X-rays
The thyroid gland is susceptible to radiation, and is among the organs most sensitive to it. Remember that there are many types of X-rays that are just what you see in the movies. Types of X-rays include:
- Dental x-rays.
- MRI scans.
Research by the US National Cancer Institute found that people who receive dental X-rays are much more likely to develop thyroid cancer – up to five times more likely, in fact!
But if you can’t avoid X-rays, then what can you do? Whenever you need to undergo a procedure that involves radiation, ask for a thyroid shield! It is basically an apron made of lead that covers the neck while the technician takes the picture.