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Here’s how the thyroid gland could affect weight loss

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Image: Supplied
Image: Supplied

SPONSORED: The little butterfly-shaped gland in your neck could be the reason you’re battling on your weight loss journey – here’s what to look out for.

So, what is a thyroid gland and what does it do?

Located in the front part of your neck, the thyroid produces hormones that control your metabolism and your weight. It produces two thyroid hormones: T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). These hormones affect your weight and mood, your metabolism and other body systems.

When these hormones are out of balance or the thyroid is not active enough, it is known as hypothyroidism. This is when the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones to support the optimal functioning of the different systems in your body.

This can result in several symptoms that may seem vague and unrelated, such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Feeling tired and run down
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Brain fog or slow movements and thoughts
  • Feeling cold
  • Dry skin
  • Swelling in the neck
  • Low mood or depression
  • Muscle aches and weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Other less common symptoms include:

  • Brittle nails
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands
  • Abnormal menstrual periods
  • How does hypothyroidism affect your metabolism?

    People with an underactive thyroid don’t create enough thyroid hormones, which means that they have a slower metabolism and burn fewer calories at rest. This causes many of the symptoms listed above. Research shows that aerobic exercise can help boost your thyroid hormone levels. Additionally, eating more protein may help boost your metabolism.

    Struggling to lose weight? It could be your thyroi
    Image: Supplied

    What you can do:

    Do a thyroid self-exam

    Stand in front of a mirror and look for an enlarged thyroid gland. Move your head back, take a sip of water, and as you swallow, examine your neck: below where the Adam's apple would be, and above the collarbone. Look for lumps, then repeat the process a few times. If you see a lump, you need to visit your GP as soon as possible. 

    Get tested

    If you think you have symptoms pointing to a thyroid problem, it’s best to ask your GP if you should be tested.

    Make lifestyle changes to support thyroid health and weight loss:

    1. Cut out simple carbs and sugars

  • Focus on complex carbohydrates like starchy vegetables and legumes.
  • Avoids simple sugars like sweets and fizzy drinks.
  • Foods like refined grain products and sugary drinks have a high glycaemic load and may increase inflammation in the body.
  • Eat enough calories. If you don't, it can cause a stress response and result in less production of T3 (the active thyroid hormone).
  • 2. Eat more anti-inflammatory foods

  • Anti-inflammatory foods may help ease joint aches and pains, as well as depression, all of which can result from an underactive thyroid.
  • Anti-inflammatory foods can help support the immune system, which is often in overdrive in people with hypothyroidism. 
  • Anti-inflammatory foods support the intake of the essential nutrients needed for healthy thyroid function. These include magnesium, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, iron and vitamin C.  
  • Eat more leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, fatty fish, nuts, fruit and olive oil, which may help with inflammation and put less stress on the liver. 
  • Healthy liver function is vital as it is responsible for converting 60% of T4 to T3.
  • 3. Stick to small, frequent meals

  • A sluggish thyroid means slower digestion, so eating smaller, balanced meals more frequently is advisable. This will also help support balanced blood sugar levels and decrease cravings.
  • A diet high in healthy fats, moderate proteins and moderate to low carbohydrates is best for thyroid function.
  • 4. Keep a food diary

    Keeping track of your daily food intake is useful if you’re trying to stick to a balanced diet.

    5. Move your body

    It’s important to make exercise part of your lifestyle. It will help burn calories, it’s great for your health and it helps keep your weight in check.

    6. Take the right supplements

    Herbex Thyroid Active Tablets contain Fucus vesiculosis (bladderwrack), Withania somnifera (winter cherry/ashwagandha) and added iodine and selenium, which may help promote normal thyroid hormone production.

    This information is supplied by a third-party client. Before using new products or medicines, always speak to your doctor first to find out if they could work for you.

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