The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that has an impressive influence over nearly every aspect of health. Perhaps the most important role of the thyroid is regulating metabolic function. More specifically, the thyroid gland produces hormones that monitor the body’s metabolic rate which in turn helps control the heart, various muscles, digestive function, brain development, and bone maintenance.
Below we outline the role of the thyroid in relation to various aspects of health:
The brain relies on a steady supply of thyroid hormones to function properly. Thyroid hormones are essential for mood and cognitive function. As a result, thyroid-related mental dysfunction can lead to symptoms such as:
- Poor focus
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Low self-esteem
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lost desire to socialize
- Inability to synthesize information
- Slowed reaction time
- Difficulty recognizing details
Thyroid-induced brain fog is described in the medical community as critical mood deterioration. In severe cases of thyroid dysfunction, patients may even reach a point where engaging in everyday conversation becomes difficult.
Unfortunately, when treating thyroid-related brain fog and cognitive issues, many practitioners turn to prescription psychotropic drugs and therapies that do not improve thyroid activity and may actually increase symptom severity in the long term. If neurological dysfunction such as brain fog and depression are caused by thyroid dysfunction, the only effective way to alleviate them is through properly supporting and healing the thyroid.
Studies have shown a strong correlation between thyroid and gut health. Low thyroid hormones have been linked to leaky gut syndrome and poor gut health can suppress thyroid function.
Leaky gut syndrome occurs when the intestinal lining becomes inflamed and porous, allowing toxins and particles to “leak,” through the lining of the small intestine into the sterile environment of the bloodstream. This triggers an immune response, which creates inflammation throughout the body.
Leaky gut syndrome is particularly common amongst those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune condition that involves the production of thyroid antibodies that attack thyroid gland proteins resulting in inflammation, damage to the thyroid, and reduced hormone production.
Studies have also shown a link between Hashimoto’s and gluten intolerance. In fact, one study found that 87% of patients with celiac disease and intestinal permeability were able to restore their gut health and return to “normalcy” after following a gluten-free diet for over a year. Therefore, when dealing with chronic health conditions that impact your gut such as Hashimoto’s, improving your diet is essential.
Thyroid hormone affects the rate of bone replacement. Specifically, when there is too much thyroid hormone in the body, the rate at which bone is lost increases and the body may not be able to replace the bone fast enough. This can increase your chances for osteoporosis.
In contrast, those with low levels of thyroid hormone typically have a higher bone density. This is also not beneficial as it can cause irregularities in collagen, bone turnover, mineral crystal size, and the structure of the bone itself. The result is an increased risk of fracture, even though the bone has a greater density.
Children with low thyroid hormone may experience inhibited bone growth, which can affect the child’s physical development.
Arterial function is significantly impacted by thyroid hormone activity. Studies have found an association between low levels of T3 and cardiovascular disease. Thyroid dysfunction, particularly hypothyroidism, can contribute to low blood pressure and a slower heart rate. This increases the risk of plaque buildup, hardening of the arteries, and heart attack or stroke. Furthermore, A weakened heart due to poor thyroid prevalence limits the amount of oxygen transported throughout the body. This can make breathing difficult, especially when exercising. It is also important to note that a lack of thyroid hormones may reduce fat breakdown while also reducing LDL receptors. Hypothyroid states can delay cholesterol usage and limit the removal of excess cholesterol. This decreased efficiency results in increased levels of triglycerides and LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Unhealthy cholesterol levels can also increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
Hair, Skin, and Nail Health
As mentioned above, thyroid hormones are involved in supporting blood flow and the transportation of oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. If there is a drop in blood flow due to low thyroid, it can cause cooling of the extremities and contribute to hair loss and fungal nail growth.
At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your thyroid condition, optimize your health, and improve your quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but aren’t getting the treatment you need or if you have symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction, contact us today to see how we can help you!