4 thyroid health myths to stop believing

·4-min read
Photo credit: Kittiphan Teerawattanakul / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Kittiphan Teerawattanakul / EyeEm - Getty Images

The thyroid is is one hell of a workhorse. It produces hormones that help to regulate your metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature and has a hand in bone health, GI function, mood, fertility, and more. So if the little guy goes rogue? Less than ideal, as you can imagine.

These days—likely because these disorders have vague symptoms, at-home test kits make it easy to gather data on your own, and there’s more social media dialogue about hormone health (and wellness in general!)–a lot of people think that they might be dealing with a thyroid issue.

The result? Properly diagnosing and treating thyroid problems becomes dicey, especially when people take matters into their own hands, says Dr Disha Naran. There’s a 'culture of misinformation' with thyroid health, she adds.

Still, these problems are a very real issue for a whopping one in eight women—making this modern primer to the gregarious gland a must-read. Consider any confusion cleared.

How To Tell If You Actually Have A Thyroid Issue

If something is off with your thyroid, the alert may be more like a gentle ping than a ringing cowbell. That’s because many symptoms, especially in hypothyroidism, are nonspecific. Meaning: They could easily be chalked up to other factors, like sleep-deprived nights or skimping on whole foods.

So how the heck would you know? Your doc’s ears will perk up if you have not only one but a cluster of the signs below; if symptoms are persistent and new; and/or if you have a family history of thyroid issues or autoimmune disease. You can then chat with your physician about whether to get yours tested. No matter what, you deserve answers.

Signs Of Hypothyroidism

Are you wrapped in a blanket? Hypothyroidism tends to make people feel chilly, sluggish, achy, and bummed out. Hypo sometimes leads to weight gain. Also watch for unpredictable or heavy periods, dry, flaky skin, and thinning hair all over your head (rather than in patches).

  • Feeling cold all the time

  • Low energy

  • Body aches

  • Low mood

  • Weight gain

  • Heavy or unpredictable periods

  • Dry skin

  • Thinning hair

Signs Of Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism, on the other hand, is like putting that podcast on super-speed. Instead of the chatter being faster, it’s your heart that flutters, metabolism that revs (cue: weight loss), and appetite and body temp that increase. You may not sleep well and may have frequent loose bowel movements.

  • Rapid heart rate

  • Weight loss

  • Heightened appetite

  • Feeling warm all the time

  • Sleep issues

  • Diarrhoea or loose bowel movements

4 Thyroid Myths To Stop Believing Right Now

There’s a lot of social-media BS about interventions, especially when it comes to food and supplements. We’ve got the scoop.

Myth

Fact: Healthy Eating Should Do

There are no diets proven to cure thyroid disease, says Dr. Lowe—including commonly promoted soy or gluten-free ones. Still feel best eliminating a food? Do you! Otherwise, maintain a balanced whole foods–based plan.

Myth

Fact: There’s Enough in Food

Thyroid cells use iodine to do their job. 'You need enough, but not too much,' says Dr. Lowe. Her advice: Get it from seafood, dairy, and seaweed. Skip 'thyroid-supporting' supps, as some contain high doses.

Myth

Fact: Only If You Eat Bushels of Them

There is data that cruciferous veggies can alter thyroid levels due to their natural iodine, but you’d have to eat them all day, every day, says Dr. Narang. A regimen with kale salads and roasted broccoli is totally safe.

Myth

Fact: A Healthy Lifestyle Matters But Doesn’t Repair an Off Thyroid

Sleep, nutrition, and exercise are (of course!) important for your overall well-being. But 'there’s no evidence that natural solutions work to cure thyroid issues,' says Dr. Narang.

How To Get Your Thyroid Function Tested

Thyroid screening is an easy-peasy blood test that your GP can order.

Normal thyroid? Time to explore what else is making you feel not-so-great. Abnormal result? Your GP will refer you for treatment.

One note: If you’re taking a supplement with biotin (hair and nail pills!), stop it two or three days before a thyroid workup. Biotin doesn’t affect thyroid function, but it does impact TSH numbers and skews results, Dr. Lowe says.

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