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Hormones and Weight Loss: Thyroid hormones

Mar 25, 2015

Turn on your most recent episode of Dr. Oz and they're discussing thyroid health it seems. I'm not sure if it's truly an epidemic, but more and more people are being diagnosed with a sluggish thyroid and are being prescribed medications to deal with the symptoms left and right.

When it comes to your weight, having a sluggish thyroid and wacky thyroid hormone levels really can make you pack on the pounds--even if you're making the best effort to NOT gain weight. So what gives?

When we talk about thyroid hormone, we're really talking about a few: TSH, T4 and T3. Thyroid stimulating hormone, or TSH, comes from the pituitary gland and tells the thyroid gland to make thyroid hormone, T4. T4 is the inactive version of thyroid hormone while T3 is the active form that T4 must be converted into. Confusing, I know!

Thyroid hormones are responsible for regulating metabolism--how our bodies burn calories and utilize energy. When active T3 is lower than optimal, it slows the metabolism and the chance of gaining weight (and gaining easily!) increases.

Without getting into too much detail, if you're having trouble with weight gain despite your efforts to stay slim, I'd advise you to discuss this with your physician. Have him/her assess your thyroid function by testing all three measures listed above, as looking simply at TSH won't give the whole picture.

On the front end, there are things you can do if you suspect that your thyroid is functioning on the low end. Here's a few options for practical implementation:

  • Eat foods that balance thyroid hormones: sea salt, fish, shellfish and sea vegetables like kelp. Iodine in these is essential for thyroid function.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as this will increase T4 production.
  • Avoid polyunsaturated oils like soybeand and corn oil, as these block the absorption of iodine.
  • Avoid low-fat, low-protein, and zero-carb diets and eat a balanced diets of meats, vegetables and fruits, and healthy fats.
  • Avoid excess alcohol, excess salt, fluoride in tap water as these all lessen thyroid function.

If you're still curious about the thyroid and it's hormones and what they do and why, feel free to send me an email or comment below. I love keeping the conversation going! Keep in mind I'm not a doctor or a diagnostician, so take anything I say as information to do with as you wish.

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