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Thyroid Disease







  • Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism. 

  • Two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4.

  • Thyroid disorders are common, and they include goiters (enlarged gland), hyperthyroidism (high function), and hypothyroidism (low function).Together, they affect up to 10% of the population. Hypothyroidism is more common and more problematic of these disorders. Hashimoto's thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disease is responsible for vast majority of cases of hypothyroidism. This topic does not include thyroid cancer which can occur with or without a normal functioning thyroid gland. 

What are the symptoms of hypothyroidism?

  • Fatigue

  • Weight gain

  • Depression

  • Sleep disturbance

  • Skin dryness

  • Swelling

  • Mental slowing 

  • Constipation

  • Cold intolerance

  • Menstrual irregularities (in women)

What are the common symptoms of hyperthyroidism?

  • Anxiety 

  • Sleep disorders

  • Weight loss (or gain in some situations)

  • Palpitations

  • Diarrhea

  • Heat intolerance

  • Menstrual problems (in women)

What lab tests should be performed to diagnose thyroid disease?

Basic labs include TSH and Free T4.

Advanced testing includes T3, T3 uptake, reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies. In addition, several nutritional elements can be monitored as these affect thyroid metabolism. These include iodine, zinc, copper and selenium. 

In addition, all patients with thyroid disease should be tested for diabetes, lipid levels and polycystic ovary disease (in females) as there is a high correlation between thyroid disease and these disorders. 

What can happen if thyroid disease is left untreated? 

Short term complications include worsening of the symptoms and long term complications include faster than normal aging, metabolic disturbances such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular problems and mental decline. 

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How can I support my thyroid function?

In addition to taking thyroid medicine (if applicable), following can be done to monitor and support thyroid function. 

Healthy and well balanced plant based diet:

A well balanced plant based diet provides nutritional support for proper thyroid function. Micronutrients listed below such as iodine, zinc and selenium are abundant in plant derived foods. In addition, dairy is associated with development of thyroid antibodies which leads to autoimmune thyroid disease or Hashimoto disease. Therefore, even if a fully plant based diet is not adopted, animal based products specially dairy should be consumed in minimum quantities.

Natural dietary sources of micronutrients for thyroid support:

Regular monitoring of thyroid function and prevention of complications:

Lab tests such as thyroid function tests, autoimmune profile, metabolic profile looking for glucose intolerance, insulin resistance and a whole host of additional tests can ensure that thyroid function is in balance. In addition, cardiac, endocrine and neurological functions must be assessed at least periodically for early detection and prevention of associated complications when necessary. 

Tests to look for triggers/root cause of thyroid dysfunction:

As mentioned above, autoimmune dysfunction or development of thyroid antibodies leads to Hashimoto's disease. When this is the case, tests can be performed to look for environmental triggers such as foods, chronic infections etc. If such triggers are detected, thyroid disease can be managed more appropriately with lifestyle as well as pharmacologic intervention. 

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