The Beautiful Human Body, Part 3 - Thyroid
Thyroid is an important butterfly shaped gland that sits in the center of the throat. It produces the “Thyroid Hormone”, which is actually two hormones called T3 and T4.
Every cell depends on the thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism.
Hypothalamus -----TRH--> Pituitary ------TSH--> Thyroid -----> T4, T3
Imagine that the hypothalamus is the person controlling the thermostat which is the pituitary. The thyroid is the actual furnace whose temperature - T4 and T3 is controlled by the thermostat.
Hypothyroid: If TSH levels are high, the thyroid may not be producing enough of the T3 and T4, causing the pituitary to overproduce TSH - Almost like screaming at the thyroid to do its job.
If the TSH levels is normal, the thyroid is doing its job of producing the right amounts of the T3 and T4.
Hyperthyroid: If the TSH levels are low, the thyroid may be producing too much of the T3 and T4. causing the pituitary to slow down in TSH - Almost like its whispering to the thyroid.
T4 is about 93% of the produced hormone, and it is converted into T3. T3 is the main / active form of the thyroid hormone which attaches itself to the receptor sites of the cells to increase metabolism.
The amount of T3 in the blood in the feedback loop to the Hypothalamus and the Pituitary which is how the TSH values are adjusted.
However, sometimes, there is more of Reverse T3 in the blood which looks a lot like T3 but does the opposite – it slows down metabolism and tells the body to store more fat. It is just as important to get your blood tested for RT3 to find your body’s true metabolic rate.
As you can tell, if the T4 is not converted to T3 efficiently, problems arise.
Nutrition and environmental factors play a crucial role in the conversion of T4 to T3. It is important to diagnose the root cause of Thyroid issues rather than only treating the Thyroid directly.
Some of the core issues could be –
Adrenal Stress: We discussed adrenal stress in the post here. The cortisol increase provides negative feedback to the pituitary thus creating potential issues either with TSH or during the conversion of T4 -> T3. Stress may reduce T3 and increase reverse T3. Nourishing the adrenals with good foods, changing lifestyle to combat negative effects of stress, incorporating self-care and supplementing go a long way.
Blood Sugar Imbalances: Blood sugar spikes through the day impact the Adrenals and the Cortisol which in turn affects the Thyroid. When cortisol levels are high, TSH drops. When Cortisol is low, the T4 -> T3 is impaired.
Toxins: Our liver is quite taxed with performing many important functions, day and night. Read the post here. Following a detox program to reduce exposure to environmental toxins helps support the liver so it can do what it is meant to. Eat more antioxidant and glutathione rich foods to combat free radicals (more on that in the next post).
Inflammation: Our lifestyle, especially sugar laden / processed foods and lack of exercise causes inflammatory response in our body. Eating a clean anti-inflammatory diet, incorporating workouts that reduce inflammation, supplementing well, breathing, practicing yoga are all at its root an anti-inflammatory way of living. Eliminating inflammatory foods is just as crucial – dairy, gluten, soy, sugar, processed foods, preservatives and additives.
Foods that support Thyroid
Nuts and Seeds
Turmeric, ginger, garlic
Yoga to support Thyroid:
Pranayama / breathing exercises