The thyroid is one of the larger endocrine glands, weighing 2-3 gms in neonates and 18-60 gms in adults which increases in pregnancy. It is a butterfly-shaped organ and is composed of two cone-like lobes or wings, lobus dexter (right lobe) and lobus sinister (left lobe), connected by a narrow band of the tissue called the isthmus. The lobes of the gland, as well as the isthmus, contain many small globular sacs called follicles. The follicles are lined with follicular cells and are filled with a fluid known as colloid that contains the prohormone thyroglobulin. The follicular cells contain the enzymes needed to synthesise thyroglobulin, as well as the enzymes needed to release thyroid hormone from thyroglobulin. When thyroid hormones are needed, thyroglobulin is reabsorbed from the colloid in the follicular lumen into the cells, where it is split into its component parts, including the two thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).
It functions in the ‘junctions' of nerves, particularly in the brain. It fires the furnaces (mitochondria) in cells, again particularly in the brain. In doing so it controls serotonin hormone, a feel good hormone, which we rely on for our emotional wellbeing.
For underactive thyroids, selenium rich foods such as shellfish and fish, goat kidneys and liver, mushrooms, onions, sesame and sunflower seeds, kelp and wheat germ should be added to the diet.
Foods that are beneficial for those with overactive thyroids are the raw vegetables cauliflower, mustard greens, cabbage, broccoli, beans, Brussels sprouts, water cress and turnips. Soy and soy products also lower thyroid production.
The fats are the building blocks of hormonal pathways. Given that thyroid conditions, at a basic level, are issues that arise within the endocrine (hormonal) system, supplementing the diet with good sources of healthy fats (any of the following) can provide the raw materials needed to encourage the body to repair itself.
Goitrogens are naturally-occurring thyroid-inhibiting compounds that are found in several species of plants and vegetables. Anyone experiencing decreased thyroid function should avoid the following foods:
A: Yes, Thyroid disorders are more common in women. Female hormones, such as oestrogen, may be a factor in triggering autoimmune conditions, including problems with the thyroid.
A: It is simply a thyroid gland that is bigger than usual. A goitre can be associated with levels of thyroid hormone that are normal (euthyroid), too high (hyperthyroid) or too low (hypothyroid).
A: Hyperthyroidism is far more common.
A: Thyroid disorders often cause changes in menstrual cycle and mood, the symptoms are sometimes mistaken for menopause. If a thyroid problem is suspected, a simple blood test can determine whether, it is menopause or a thyroid disorder or a combination of both.
A: For most people, one dose of radioactive iodine treatment will cure hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine leaves the body through urine. Drinking plenty of fluids during this time will rid the body of radioactivity.
A: Lack of thyroid hormones in the system at an early age can lead to the development of cretinism (mental retardation) and dwarfism (stunted growth). Most infants now have their thyroid levels checked routinely soon after birth. If they have hypothyroid, treatment begins immediately.
A hypothyroid infant is unusually inactive and quiet, has a poor appetite and sleeps for long periods of time. Further references: