Other Obstacles to Weight Lossby Laura J Hieb, ND on July 20, 2021
So we've seen how sugar consumption affect weight and what to do about it. But there are of course many other things that contribute to weight.
This blog will look at thyroid disorders and how they contribute to weight gain and prevent weight loss.
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of the throat and it is one of the main glands in charge of metabolism. So if it isn't working properly, then weight loss can be difficult and weight gain all too easy. Or the reverse.
Grave's disease or hyperthyroidism can cause an increase in metabolism and those affected can have difficulty keeping weight on and lose it too easily. Before your think , that's not such a bad disease to have! Really it is. If your thyroid is running too high you will also have difficulty sleeping, you may feel hot, develop palpitations and an eye disorder and feel very anxious and jittery. There is also a chance that a person with it could develop something called a thyroid storm, which if not immediately treated can lead to death. Because of this, medical doctors who treat hyperthyroidism, often do procedures to inactivate (part of)the thyroid. Since it is difficult to know how much will be inactivated, most of these people will develop hypothyroidism and need to be on thyroid medication for the rest of their lives--which certainly beats the alternative. But there are naturopathic approaches that can help and possibly stall or prevent thyroid inactivation with radiation or surgery.
Hypothyroidism results in lowered metabolism/weight gain, fatigue, swelling/bloating, constipation, feeling too cold, brain fog and joint pain, to name but a few symptoms. The main cause of hypothyroidism in the US is due to an auto-immune disorder, often called Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Many doctors do not check for this, and if they do, they will tell the person to come back when they have developed hypothyroidism/hypothyroid symptoms. T hey probably already do have some mild symptoms but they may not occur on a regular basis and mostly their actual thyroid test results will be normal.
From a naturopathic perspective, we think it's important to screen for Hashimoto's (aka auto-immune thyroiditis) when appropriate and then it's important to do things to stabilize the thyroid, so its function can be preserved. Otherwise thyroid function will continue to deteriorate. This means the person who has this will, at some point, have to go on thyroid medication, and possibly stay on it for the rest of their lives.
Definitely an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So if you have difficulty losing weight AND you have some of the above symptoms, you should definitely goes see your (naturopathic) doctor and get yourself checked out.
But just know that going on thyroid medication may not automatically result in weight loss. What? If your need to be on thyroid medication, it will improve your metabolism. But, if you chronically overeat, eat a lot of sugar (which the thyroid does not like) have high levels of inflammation or other issues, you can still weight more than you might like. Sorry.
Next blog we will discuss thyroid testing and medications and supplements.