Have you ever tried losing weight but all your efforts were in vain? You eat the recommended amount of macronutrients and micronutrients for your body weight in order to lose weight, you exercise and lead an active lifestyle yet you are not losing weight. Could this be due to an underactive thyroid?
An underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism is commonly caused by thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland). The thyroid gland is situated in front of the neck just below the larynx (voice box) and it uses iodine to release hormones that control your metabolism.
An underactive thyroid means that your body’s metabolism is slower than normal people, therefore making weight loss even harder. However, weight loss is still possible for people with hypothyroidism.
What causes hypothyroidism:
- Iodine deficiency
- Body’s immune system attacks thyroid gland
- Cold or any lung infection
- Reaction of the body to certain drugs
- Birth defects
- Radiation treatments to the neck or brain for cancer treatment
- Radioactive iodine initially used to treat an overactive thyroid gland
- Surgical removal of any or all part of the thyroid gland
- Excessive bleeding during pregnancy or childbirth which damages the thyroid gland
Symptoms of hypothyroidism:
- Extreme sensitive to cold
- Heavier menstrual periods
- Joint or muscle pain not caused by exercise
- Paleness and/or dry skin
- Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
- Weak body
- Gains weight easily despite eating healthily and exercising
If left untreated, symptoms will include:
- Terrible sense of taste and smell
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Puffy face, hands and feet
- Slow speech
- Thickening of the skin
- Thinning of eyebrows
If you have more than 5 of the symptoms above, please see a doctor for treatment to replace your lack of thyroid hormone. This is a lifelong therapy because you must take thyroid hormone replacement for the rest of your life although your thyroid hormone levels will temporarily return to normal.
Additionally, you can also increase your intake of foods containing iodine, but be mindful to prevent overconsumption of foods containing iodine because that will only impair the thyroid gland’s function in the long term or worse, result in coma. You actually need less than a teaspoon of iodine in your entire lifetime for good health. 150 micrograms of iodine daily is enough to meet the daily requirement.
Some foods that contain iodine:
- Dried seaweed
- Potato with peel
At the moment, there is no known way to prevent hypothyroidism. If you think you may have hypothyroidism, please see your doctor to run some tests. Once you are confirmed to have hypothyroidism, please talk to your doctor regarding thyroid hormone replacement therapy.