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Condition - Thyroid problem - Cold hands, worn out, not losing weight?

By Alsion Belcourt BA (Hons) DipION MBANT MAR

Are you one of those people who, no matter how hard you try, fails to lose weight? Is your hair brittle and falling out? Are your hands and feet always cold and do your struggle to get out of bed in the morning? If this is you, then the chances are your thyroid may need some extra care and support.

Your thyroid is a gland surrounding your windpipe and its job is to control growth, reproductive function, body temperature and most importantly the rate at which your body functions.

The thyroid works on the instruction of a hormone called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). It responds like a tiny factory, taking in iodine (from fish, iodised salt, kelp and sea vegetables) and tyrosine (found in proteins like turkey and chicken) and produces large quantities of thyroxin (T4). Both iodine and tyrosine can be supplemented if you are low in these. Thyroxin (T4) travels through the blood to target cells and organs where it is converted, by a selenium-dependant enzyme called deiodinase, into the more active Triiodothyronine (T3). A hair mineral analysis test may help to identify a selenium or iodine deficiency.

Another simple indicator to assess whether you have enough active T3 is to do a body temperature test first thing in the morning, before you drink, eat or get out of bed. For women, do this during the first week of your monthly cycle. If your body temperature is consistently below 36.5° C, then you may have an underactive thyroid, or poor conversion of T4 into T3. This is common in women over 40, if they have been extremely stressed or just had a baby.

If you have had your thyroid hormones checked with a normal result but still have the symptoms above, then the conversion of T4 to T3 should be considered. Increasing foods containing potassium, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, and selenium-rich foods such as Brazil nuts, fish and brown rice in your diet may help. Since our grains are often grown in selenium-depleted soils, selenium supplementation may also help.

Looking after the thyroid is a great way of supporting weight loss and boosting energy levels. The thyroid uses many nutrients including the B vitamins, vitamins A and C and the minerals zinc, magnesium, manganese, copper and iron. Ginseng may also help to support energy levels. 

Eating a nutrient-dense diet that includes protein foods, legumes, whole grains, fresh fruit and plenty of green vegetables is ideal. However, be careful as some grains and proteins contain phytates and goitrogens that may bind to the minerals the thyroid needs. Wheat and tea contain phytates that bind to zinc and iron. Millet, soy and uncooked brassica vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, contain goitrogens that can bind to iodine, making it unavailable for use. 

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