Have You Been Feeling Tired and Sluggish? Maybe it’s time to get your thyroid checked!
The truth is that many of us are used to feeling tired, and often we just put up with it as part of life. Sometimes however, tiredness can be particularly debilitating and can also coincide with unexplained weight gain and a variety of other unwelcome symptoms.
If you’ve been experiencing tiredness that feels worse than you’ve experienced before and you’ve noticed that you are gaining weight, it’s definitely worth talking to your doctor for further investigation, as well as getting your thyroid checked.
What is the thyroid and what role does it play in our body?
The thyroid plays a massive role in our metabolism, and therefore energy levels, and overall health. It’s a butterfly-shaped gland that is part of our endocrine system (a system of glands that produces hormones with many different functions in our body) and is located in front of the windpipe in the throat.
The thyroid gland makes two hormones called thyroxine (also known as T4) and triiodothyronine (also known as T3).
What can happen when our thyroid isn't functioning as it should be?
If your thyroid isn't functioning as it should be, it can result in something called "Hypothyroidism", where the thyroid isn't producing enough thyroid hormones, or it can result in "Hyperthyroidism", where the thyroid is producing excessive amounts of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism is by far more common than hyperthyroidism. In addition, hypothyroidism is more common in women than men.
Problems with the thyroid are commonly caused by something called "Autoimmunity", which can be identified via a blood test. This is essentially where your body's immune system mistakenly identifies its own healthy cells as foreign and starts attacking them.
What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?
According to the NHS, the following symptoms can be present (the exact symptoms experienced depends on the individual and this list isn't exhaustive): Tiredness, constipation, weight gain, sensitivity to the cold, depression, muscle aches, muscle weakness, dry and scaly skin, brittle hair and nails, loss of libido, irregular periods or heavy periods, muscle cramps, carpal tunnel syndrome, slow movements and thoughts.
What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?
According to the NHS, the following can be present: Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, mood swings, diarrhoea, persistent thirst, increased urination, muscle weakness, feeling tired/fatigued, hyperactive (nervous energy), sensitivity to heat, loss of interest in sex, itchiness.
How can we support our thyroid health?
Our thyroid specifically requires many different nutrients to function efficiently, but some of the key nutrients are iodine, selenium, zinc and iron. Focus on food first, and consult a Nutritional Therapist if you are considering supplementation.
As a general rule of thumb, it's important to adopt a wholefood diet that steers clear of processed foods, and foods high in refined sugars. It’s also important to limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption.
On top of this, don’t forget to prioritise manging your stress, getting sufficient, good quality sleep and moving your body regularly – your thyroid will thank you for it!
If you've been diagnosed with a thyroid problem and are struggling with your symptoms and not sure where to start, reach out to our Nutritionist, Amy to book your no-obligation 30-minute Health & Energy review to pave a way forward.