What Does The Thyroid Gland Do?
The thyroid gland makes hormones that do several important things. For one, thyroid hormones are involved in the production of protein.
They also stimulate mitochondria, which are involved in producing energy.
You probably know that a sluggish metabolism causes weight gain. That’s because your body isn’t using energy efficiently to do all of the things its needs to do. It stands to reason, then, that if you have a sluggish metabolism, you will also be tired much of the time.
What Is The Connection Between Hypothyroidism And Tiredness?
“Hypo” means low, so hypothyroidism is another name for sluggish thyroid. It is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce sufficient amounts of thyroid hormones. This is usually due to a problem with the thyroid gland itself, though sometimes it is caused by a problem in the brain or the pituitary gland.
The thyroid gland makes several hormones: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone), T-4 and T-3. As the names suggests, TSH stimulates the thyroid to produce T-4 (called thyroxine) and T-3 (called triiodothyronine).
Thryoxine and triiodothyronine control heart rate, body temperature and overall metabolism. If these hormones are not produced in sufficient quantities, the body slows down and you feel fatigued.
Other symptoms of hypothyroidism include weight gain, dry skin and feeling cold.
What Can You Do About Low Thyroid Function?
If you suspect that hypothyroidism is the cause of your tiredness, you can ask your doctor for a blood test to see if you thyroid hormone levels are within the normal range.
However, some experts suggest that thyroid function can be low even if hormone levels check out. It is possible that your thyroid gland is getting the job done, but it is not functioning at an optimal level to do so.
If your thyroid hormone levels are low, your doctor may prescribe medication to correct the imbalance. There are also natural remedies, including herbal remedies that can help boost thyroid function.
The thyroid uses the mineral iodine, to create thyroid hormones, so eating foods rich in iodine can help boost thyroid function. Iodine is found in many sea foods as well as in yogurt, cow’s milk, sea kelp and seaweed. You can also find herbal formulas designed specifically to boost thyroid function.
It is also possible that estrogen dominance in women, a condition that often occurs around the time of menopause but can also occur in younger women, precipitates low thyroid function.
If you fall into this category and suspect that your hormones are not in balance, correcting the imbalance may also boost your thyroid and eliminate the ongoing feelings of tiredness that plague you.
Eating To Maximize Thyroid Function
While some people do not think diet makes a difference in terms of thyroid function, many people who suffer from low thyroid function find relief by following a “hypothyroidism diet.” The basics of this diet are to increase intake of foods rich in iodine and avoid foods that may interfere with thyroid function.
In addition to iodine, zinc, selenium and tyrosine are also needed by the thyroid gland to create thyroid hormones. Zinc and tyrosine are involved in creating the hormones, and selenium helps maintain hormonal balance.
Foods rich in zinc include spinach, nuts, seeds, beans, seafood, poultry and meat. Mushrooms, seafood, barley and Brazil nuts are rich sources of selenium.
If you love your morning cup of coffee, you’ll also be happy to know that caffeine appears to stimulate thyroid function. So if you have a sluggish thyroid, you might even want to have a second cup!
Foods That Antagonize Your Thyroid
Some foods contain substances known as goitrogens can interfere with thyroid function by preventing the absorption of iodine. Goitrogens exist in cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower and spinach.
You probably recognize these as foods that are often recommended for health, and it’s true that these foods have far too many benefits to be cut completely from your diet.
The good news is that cooking cruciferous vegetables appears to make them safe for the thyroid, so if you have thyroid issues, you can still eat them in moderation but be sure to cook them first. Soy, pine nuts, peanuts, strawberries and millet also contain goitrogens, so these foods should be eaten in limited amounts as well.
Other Ways to End Tiredness from Hypothyroidism
You can find much more guidance on managing tiredness of any kind in the ebook “End Tiredness Program”. Many of the strategies for ending tiredness in general also for work for tiredness related to hypothyroidism.
For example, getting enough rest, exercising and finding time for fun and relaxation are important no matter what the cause of your chronic fatigue.