Getting to Know Your Thyroid

Written by: Sarah Vadeboncoeur & Anita Kushwaha

What is your thyroid?

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland situated at the base of the front of your neck, just below your Adam’s apple.

thyroidgland

What does your thyroid do?

The thyroid gland uses iodine from the foods you eat to make two main hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)
  • Thyroxine (T4)

These hormones produced by the thyroid gland — T3 and T4 — have a great impact on your health, affecting all aspects of your metabolism.

The thyroid’s hormones regulate vital body functions. For instance, they maintain the rate at which your body uses fats and carbohydrates, help control your body temperature, influence your heart rate, and help regulate the production of proteins.

If your thyroid isn’t functioning optimally, it may affect:

  • Heart rate
  • Nervous system
  • Body weight and metabolism
  • Muscle strength
  • Menstrual cycles
  • Body temperature
  • Cholesterol levels

What is hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism (i.e. underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of the above mentioned hormones. When this occurs, bodily functions slow down.

Hypothyroidism may either be genetic or develop in the course of life. There can be many different causes for an underactive thyroid. For example, one reason might be a lack of iodine. Getting enough iodine through your diet is therefore important for normal thyroid function. Similarly, a condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis –  an auto-immune condition that causes chronic inflammation of the thyroid – can also lead to underactivity.

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue, tiredness
  • Slowed heart rate and metabolism
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle weakness, aches, tenderness and stiffness
  • Constipation, digestive upset
  • Elevated blood cholesterol level
  • Heavy or irregular menstruation
  • Cold sensitivity
  • Hair loss or dry/brittle hair
  • Dry skin
  • Joint pain, stiffness or swelling
  • Depression
  • Impaired memory and concentration
  • Loss of sexual desire

Concerned about your thyroid function? Contact Dr. Sarah to inquire about getting your thyroid levels tested.

 References:

  1. Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/home/ovc-20155291
  2. PubMed Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072572/
  3. EndocrineWeb: https://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/thyroid/hypothyroidism-too-little-thyroid-hormone

Is Plastic Making You Fat?

Did you know that chemicals found in plastics (such as BPA) can contribute to weight gain?

Plastic 101

More than 2.2 million tonnes of BPA are produced each year to make plastics used in food and drink containers, food packaging, and the lining of canned goods.

Up to 90% of the population is exposed to chemicals such as BPA mainly through dietary consumption, but also from drinking water, dental sealants, and inhalation of household dusts. Higher levels of BPA in the body have been associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

How does plastic make me fat?

Chemicals found in plastics can mimic estrogen in the body. These higher levels of estrogen can trigger and activate insulin, a fat storage hormone. Higher insulin levels can cause weight gain, especially in your midsection, and put you at increased risk for diabetes and heart disease.

But my water bottle is BPA-free…

Even plastics that are BPA-free can still contain hormone-disrupting chemicals. You’re best to avoid plastics all together!

How can I avoid plastics?

  • Limit your consumption of canned foods which can contain BPA. Buy dried beans instead of canned and look for glass jars of tomato sauce,etc. Sensitive groups, such as children and pregnant women should limit their intake of canned foods or look for BPA-free brands such as Amy’s and Eden Foods. You can also rinse canned fruits and veggies to lessen BPA exposure.
  • Never heat plastic or leave it exposed in the sun. Heat can increase BPA leaching into food and drinks.
  • Ditch plastic containers and invest in glass or ceramic containers for your food storage needs.
  • Choose a glass or stainless steel water bottle. I love my Life Factory bottle.
  • Reuse glass food jars to store leftovers.

What are your favorite tips for avoiding plastics?