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Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle with Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormone, resulting in slowed body metabolism, decreased heat production and decreased oxygen consumption by the tissues. If you are trying to live a healthy lifestyle, what does this mean for you?

Thyroid disease in all shapes and sizes

Although there are several types of thyroid disease, the two most common are hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. "Hyper-" refers to an overproduction of the hormone, while "hypo-" refers to a hormone deficiency. Here, we discuss how living with hypothyroidism means you can still live a healthy lifestyle.

Thyroid hormone is vital to your body, primarily with regards to your metabolism. Your thyroid hormones increase the rate of absorption; help regulate body temperature; control protein, fat and carbohydrate digestion in all cells; "maintain growth hormone secretion, skeletal maturation, and cardiac function; promote central nervous system development; stimulate the synthesis of many enzymes; and are necessary for muscle tone and vigor." (Mosby)

As you can see, having your thyroid hormone levels out of whack can have a tremendous effect on the rest of your body.

The body is a row of dominoes

Every system and part of your body is completely and delicately interconnected. When one system is out of whack, it throws the rest of your body off. A funky thyroid hormone level negatively affects your metabolism, protein/fat regulation, cardiac output and thermometer.

Signs and symptoms of an underactive thyroid

  • Slowed metabolism
  • Weight gain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Persistent constipation
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Thinning hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Slow pulse

Do any of these symptoms sound familiar? Imagine your goal is simply weight loss. After reading all of the above, does that not seem like a difficult – even impossible – goal? Again, "hypo-" means "low" or "below." If your levels are low, you burn fewer calories per day. Burning fewer calories means EVERY calorie you take in counts.

Nutrition is key

In this case, however, what you need specifically is slightly different as it pertains to sufficient amounts of minerals such as iodine, selenium, iron and zinc. The two vital minerals on that list are iodine and selenium (fun fact: they are nearly completely lacking in our Western diet).

Where are these minerals found in food sources? "Good dietary sources of iodine include iodized salt and sea vegetables such as edible kelp and nori. Good sources of selenium are animal products, seafood, dairy, and Brazil nuts. (Salts like sea salt, Kosher salt, gourmet salts, and most low-sodium salts have little to no iodine)." (Davis)

Weight management solutions do not differ much for those with hypothyroidism compared to those without. Nonetheless, here are a few tips:

  1. Make sure you are properly diagnosed and treated by a qualified doctor.
  2. Avoid hoarding thyroid hormone.
  3. Eat balanced meals with quality protein, especially at breakfast.
  4. Eat foods high in fiber.
  5. Exercise regularly throughout the day, including resistance training in your regimen.
  6. Stay consistent.

Dealing with hypothyroidism does not have to be a deal-breaker when meeting your goals. With the right mindset and right approach, you will exceed your expectations!

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