Thyroid Health with ATP Science

by ATP Science 476 views Nutrition

Thyroid Health with ATP Science

Thyroid health is a topic many of us who look after our health and wellbeing have thought about at some point in our journey. To understand what the thyroid needs, we must first understand its role in the body, and why it is so important to look after it when seeking to better our health for the future.

What is the Thyroid?

thyroid anatomy

The Thyroid is a gland and plays an important part in our endocrine system. Our endocrine system regulates our hormonal levels throughout day-to-day life through means of constant feedback back and forth from our brain to our body.

The Thyroid Gland itself governs a major element of our metabolism, growth and overall development of the human body. This gland, which is shaped similarly to a butterfly, is located in our throat/neck in approximately the same location as where our voice box would be.

Two major hormones that the thyroid makes after thyroid-stimulating hormone is released, are T3 and T4, these are often referred to as the active hormones of the thyroid and they help contribute to [1]: 

  • Body temperature increases.
  • Faster pulse and stronger heartbeat.
  • Food is utilised more effectively as liver and muscle stores of glycogen are tapped into and used.
  • Matures the brain in children.
  • Growth is promoted in children.
  • Improved nervous system function, faster response times and increased concentration capacity.

How are Thyroid Hormones Made?

There is a process involved in the making of thyroid hormones, and it begins in the brain with the Hypothalamus, communicating to the Pituitary Gland to signal the release of Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH as it is often written as on tests) into the bloodstream. This then binds with the cells of the thyroid gland and controls the production of our thyroid hormones, T3 and T4 or thyroxine and triiodothyronine as their official names are titled. 

Thyroid hormones are not formed out of thin air, they are formed through processes, conversions, reactions and stimulation. For this orchestra to occur in the body, we need the nutrients specific to this series of events to come from our diets across the day to support healthy thyroid function. The three main nutrients required to make T3 and T4 include, Selenium, Iodine and Tyrosine. We will jump into these a bit more below. [2][3]

Thyroid Nutrients

Most of us are familiar that we need iodine for our thyroid health, however, there is a full spectrum of ingredients that we can implement in our diet that would help keep our thyroid happy. 

Did you know, thyroid cells are the only cells in the human body that are capable of absorbing dietary iodine? These thyroid cells then combine the amino acid Tyrosine and Iodine to make T3 and T4 hormones, from here these are then released into the bloodstream to regulate metabolism. To put this gland onto a pedestal of importance… every cell in our body requires regulation from thyroid hormones to support its metabolism. 

This big communication highway runs like an efficient thermostat essentially. The thyroid is a furnace providing the body with heat output, once it has reached the right range, this feedback comes back via the hypothalamus and pituitary, and slows it back down a little bit to help keep the temperature at a steady base level. How do you support the process from start to finish? Nutrients. 

Becoming aware of the nutrients from a micro-level is important, what punch does your food actually provide you in terms of amino acids, minerals and vitamins? For your thyroid to keep happy and healthy it needs a few specific ones nutrients… 

 
  • Dietary Selenium[2]. 
  • Dietary Tyrosine [3]. 
  • Dietary Iodine [4][5]. 
  • Dietary Zinc [6]. 
  • Dietary B vitamins. [7]
  • Dietary Protein. [8] 

thyroid health foods

Getting these in your day to day diet from a good variety of foods that contain these micronutrients is a great way to ensure you are eating to support one of the most important areas of the body, not to mention the flow-on effect this can have on your overall health too. 

What if I don’t have a Thyroid? 

Thyroidectomies are quite common so you don’t need to feel left out of gaining from these benefits. As you are likely on supporting medication from your doctor in the placement of your thyroid making these hormones on its own; we recommend confirming what dietary changes or supplementation would be beneficial for you as an individual and may even support the function of your medication with your health care professional. 

It is always best to keep your prescribing doctors in the loop for any lifestyle changes you wish to make so they can better assist, health should always be unique to the individual and their needs. Vitamin D is one nutrient specific to this instance of thyroid removal to discuss with your health professional, this is because the removal of the thyroid often also includes overtime a deficiency in vitamin D status [9]. The thyroid is very intimately linked with calcium deposition and maintaining the balance of calcium status in the body.

Take home? 

Maintaining an active lifestyle that encourages movement and physical activity helps with a healthy functioning metabolism, improving muscle also helps our cellular energy output and metabolism of fuels that we put in. Ensure that you are working closely with your doctor to monitor thyroid levels together. Not only that, focusing on micronutrient dense foods in an array across the day will not only support a healthy thyroid but leave us feeling healthier overall, and there is nothing bad about feeling healthier right?! 
 

InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. How does the thyroid gland work? 2010 Nov 17 [Updated 2018 Apr 19]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279388/>