Ask Dr. Ernst: The Thyroid - Weight Loss Connection

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by Dr. Aaron Ernst, D.C. D.PSc.

It often occurs that people do all the right things—exercise, eat well, drink enough water, sleep enough, etc.—and they still can’t lose weight.

In these cases, the most likely suspect is the thyroid gland. Think of it as your body’s primary “weight thermostat,” meaning it’s the control station where your body turns the weight up or down. When your thyroid isn’t functioning, it become a lot harder to “turn on” the weight loss function.

It’s also pretty common that thyroids don’t function—or at least not in tip-top shape. About 200 million people in the world have some sort of thyroid disease. They generally fall into one of two camps: hypothyroidism (low thyroid activity) and hyperthyroidism (high thyroid activity). Not surprisingly, the symptoms oppose each other.

Hypothyroidism 

  • Weight loss resistance
  • Sluggish heart
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Loss of brain function/memory
  • Goitre
  • Constipation

Hyperthyroidism

  • Weight loss
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sensitivity to heat
  • Sleeplessness/restlessness
  • Goitre
  • Profuse sweating
  • Diarrhea

Interestingly, thyroid conditions are often overlooked by traditional medicine. The reason for this is that the standard gamut of tests you take at the doctors office don’t generally include the common indicators of thyroid disease—namely the hormones T3 and rT3. But that’s enough for an article right there. The point is, doctors often see these symptoms, look at your test results and tell you that you’re fine, or that you’re “just getting older,” or diagnose you with something completely unrelated.

So, if you’re looking at this list of symptoms and thinking, “Hey, that’s me!” consider getting your T3 and rT3 tested. But more importantly, examine your lifestyle, environment and physical condition and take note of any connections you see.

What causes thyroid dysfunction?

 There are three main factors affecting thyroid function: nutrition, neurological interference and toxins residing in the liver and gallbladder. Let’s dive in.

Nutrition

 The hormones created in your thyroid gland require certain elements. They need building blocks, if you will. It’s quite a cocktail, but the main ones are: Vitamin A, Vitamin B2 and B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Protein, Selenium, Iodine, Zinc and Magnesium. If you’re not putting these into your body, your thyroid won’t have the tools to function properly.

You need to get enough protein. Animal protein contains protein (obviously) and magnesium, Vitamin B-12 and zinc. That means don’t skimp on beef, chicken, eggs, fish and dairy products (organic, grass-fed, free-range and wild-caught, respectively). For the vegans and vegetarians out there, maintain a steady supply of nuts and legumes in your diet.

Fun fact: iodized salt was a response to a widespread epidemic of goiter in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th Centuries. People weren’t getting enough iodine, their thyroids weren’t functioning properly and they got goiters. But don’t go crazy on the salt. You can also get iodine from fresh vegetables, seafood and seaweed. Eating seafood will also get you the selenium you need to maintain thyroid health.

Vitamin C is an easy one. Fruit! Namely citrus fruits and berries. They are loaded with Vitamin C. Get enough fruit in your diet and you can probably knock out your Vitamin B2 requirements as well.

Vitamin D just comes to you if you spend enough time in the sun. But during those winter months, you can get it from things like fish fat, mushrooms, liver, cheese and eggs.

If it comes out of the ground, it will get you some Vitamin A. The most Vitamin A, pound-for-pound, can be found in dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and collard greens—oh, and apricots.

Neurological interference

This is why we see a chiropractor. One of the human body’s little quirks is that our vertebrae tend to get out of line. It happens when we bump our heads or fall down, or as a result of how we sleep, sit or stand, or just simply as we get older. While completely normal, it does have several repercussions, one of which being that the signals between our brains and bodies become obstructed. When this happens—particularly in the neck—the thyroid can’t “talk” to the brain or the other parts of the body as easily, messages don’t get through and things don’t function well—or at all.

The cure for this is to see your chiropractor regularly enough to keep your spine properly in line.

Toxicity

A MAJOR contributor to thyroid disease is the toxins in your body. The thyroid is especially sensitive to toxins because it must do a lot of communicating with the liver and gallbladder—both organs where toxins tend to build up.

There are ways to minimize your exposure to toxins, but in today’s world, they are just everywhere.

A big one is pesticides, which you can largely avoid by sticking to organic fruits and vegetables. Another one is halogens—coming from fluoride and chloride. You can stay largely away from them by drinking spring water. PFOA is a chemical found in plastics and Teflon. Avoid drinking from plastic cups, cook in pans without Teflon and that should keep that toxin at bay. Heavy metals like mercury and lead are major toxins. They come from mining operations leaking into a water supply, or from old building materials in your house, or sometimes in canned seafood. A lot of times, you don’t even know they are there.

As completely avoiding the many toxins in our environment is next to impossible, the best course of action is to regularly detoxify your body. Cellular detoxification must often be supervised by a specialist, but some things you can do include:

  • Bone broth fasts
  • Regular consumption of antioxidants
  • Drinking lots and lots and lots of water
  • Minimizing exposure

If you get your thyroid functioning properly, you should start to see some of those outward benefits, like losing weight and having more energy, looking better and an elevated overall mood.

To learn more about meeting your health, weight loss and life goals, come see Dr. Aaron at his Total Body Makeover seminar on January 23rd al 11am at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites in North Charlotte. Click here, or at the top of this page to register!

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