You probably know about fast and slow metabolisms. In part this is the work of the thyroid gland. Facial hair, weight gain or loss, lack of energy and even hot flashes, the thyroid is mighty; it affects many aspects of our health and life.

Thyroid and perimenopause and menopause issues

Unfortunately, the thyroid tends to get out of sync and does not produce enough hormones during times of hormonal imbalances such as after having a baby, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause. That is the reason we are talking about this gland. Many of the perimenopause and menopause symptoms are a result of thyroid problems.

I am healthy but ….

I have a few friends, including 2 MDs, who are otherwise very healthy and follow a healthy lifestyle, but they take thyroid medicine, because their thyroids are sluggish. In other words, they suffer from hypothyroidism. I also had the same issue when I entered perimenopause and my weight started to skyrocket although I followed a healthy lifestyle. I took the natural path and it worked.

Hypothyroidism is very common in women over 35 and it contributes to lack of energy, lack of libido, weight gain and other symptoms. A healthy lifestyle does not always spare you from this condition, because stress and environmental toxins play a role in it.

Now let’s see the other side of the coin: Hyperthyroidism. This is when the thyroid is too active and produces too much of the hormone. In this case the person tends to lose weight and facial hair may appear, among others symptoms.

The table below illustrates the most common symptoms of both conditions.

Hypothyroidism Hyperthyroidism
Cold intolerance
Dry skin
Weight gain
Puffy face and/or hands
Muscle weakness
Elevated cholesterol
Muscle aches and stiffness
Pain, or swelling in joints
Heavy or irregular periods
Thinning hair
Slowed heart rate
Impaired memory
Enlarged thyroid (goiter)
Excessive sleepiness
Thin, brittle hair or fingernails
Decreased sweating
Pins and needles
Decrease libido
Unintentional weight loss
Rapid or irregular heartbeat
Increased appetite
Nervousness amd anxiety
Tremor in hands and fingers
Changes in menstrual patterns
Feeling hot easily
Frequent bowel movements
Enlarged thyroid gland (goiter)
Muscle weakness
Difficulty sleeping
Skin thinning
Fine, brittle hair

Why should you care for your thyroid?

Well, it affects your energy levels, weight, libido, skin and hair and your total wellbeing. On top of that the thyroid gets affected by other important organs and by autoimmune conditions.

We can say that the thyroid is the first one to make noise when something is wrong in the body. That is the reason why instead of just taking a pill (which is necessary in some cases) we need to look deeper at what else needs our attention.

Causes of hypothyroidism

  • There are many potential causes including:
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Hyperthyroidism treatments
  • Radiation therapy
  • Thyroid surgery
  • Certain medications such as medications to treat certain psychiatric disorders
  • Congenital disease
  • Pituitary disorders. This is rare.
  • Pregnancy. Some women develop hypothyroidism during or after pregnancy
  • Iodine deficiency. This is more common than normal medicine reports
  • Hashimoto’s disease. This is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. Hashimoto’s disease, is cause by autoimmune issues.
  • Thyroiditis. It can be caused by viral or bacterial infections, an autoimmune condition or following pregnancy.

For women over 40 the most common causes are:

  • Weak adrenals due to excess stress
  • Liver issues
  • Excess accumulation of toxins
  • Nutrition deficits especially of zinc, iodine, selenium, copper, iron, essential fatty acids, tyrosine (amino acid), vitamins A and D
  • In natural medicine it is also believed that some emotions affect the thyroid
  • Autoimmune disease

How to know if you have low or high thyroid activity?

Check the list of symptoms and see if you suffer many of them. If you go to a regular doctor he or she may or may not find the problem. If your deficiency or excessive level of the hormone is way higher than the expected level, it will be found, but if it is small it probably will not be found. A functional practitioner will, however, find it.

The discrepancy is that in functional medicine the range of normal levels is narrower than in conventional medicine and there is also more testing. In functional medicine, normal is not what the majority of people have right now, instead it is the optimal level for wellbeing and health.

In my case I had many symptoms such as excessive hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, constipation, I had lost part of my eyebrows, and other symptoms. My regular doctor did not find anything wrong in my tests, everything was perfect. But I had the symptoms and I refused to accept that “that is how we age”.

What can you do to have better thyroid function?

If you feel that you have too many symptoms you should get tested first by your doctor, and then if nothing is found, you can go to a functional or natural medicine practitioner.

The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic hormone. For hyperthyroidism, there are medications. There are also many natural treatments if you want to try this path.

With the natural treatments, that also require lifestyle changes, you will solve the problem and the roots of the problem. With the pills you will be taking them potentially for life, they don’t work for everybody and you will not be addressing the roots of the problem. Those roots may manifest later on in other ways.

thyroid health in midlife

Improving your thyroid function

If you only have some symptoms you can try to improve your lifestyle and add some supplements to improve thyroid function. Some of the natural recommendations are:

  • Eat natural, unprocessed foods
  • Try to minimize environmental toxins such as normal cleaning products, normal skin care products etc.
  • Lower sugar intake
  • Increase omega 3 intake
  • Make sure you are eating enough proteins
  • Make sure you are having enough iodine
  • Make sure you are having enough zinc and selenium
  • Take a break from foods that causes allergies in many people such as gluten, dairy and soy. It is just a break to determine if you have an allergy.
  • Take probiotics
  • Eat a lot of vegetables
  • Lower stress
  • Sleep enough hours
  • Make sure you are having enough fats (I had this problem, I thought fats make you fat and I was not having enough fats)
  • Be active and workout. This eliminates stress and helps to eliminate toxins. You need a workout that doesn’t create more stress. Workouts that become too competitive or too intensive are not recommended. Swimming, walking, Pilates, yoga, strength training, HIIT, hiking, outdoor bicycle, dance type workouts and others are very beneficial.
  • You may take supplements for adrenal support and thyroid support if you think you have hypothyroidism.

Thyroid support with supplements is tricky. If you buy one, pay attention that is does not have any animal gland parts of hormones added, check the ingredient list. Avoid taking thyroid support for more than a few months. Most thyroid support pills have a lot of iodine, it is better to follow smaller doses than the recommended in the bottle to avoid too much iodine.

If you have hyperthyroidism you have to follow a gluten, dairy and soy free diet. But hyperthyroidism requires more care and a visit to your natural practitioner is better.

If you need advice creating your perfect menus for thyroid support you may want to take our upcoming program for hormonal balance. Sign up to be informed of its release.

20 Comments on Is your thyroid making fat and tired?

  1. I don’t have thyroid issues that require medication but my levels tend to be in the edge of the norm. So I have them checked on annual basis just to make sure everything is good. Because yes, it can create a lot of problems for your body.

    • Hi Marta. The thyroid is tricky. Try to control stress and find out if you have any food allergies. If you had a baby not long ago that also affects the thyroid.

    • I am sorry to hear that. You can go to a natural practitioner, they can help you develop a lifestyle that will support your thyroid.

    • Hi Maria. Wow, good for your. If you had not done it you will still be taking meds and they have side effects.

  2. Great information! So many woman just take medication because their doctor said it is necessary, when in fact lifestyle changes can be just the cure they need!

  3. I had part of my thyroid removed about 18 years ago. My heart started beating irregularly and it wasn’t until I was hospitalized that they found I had hyperthyroidism and a goiter on my thyroid about the size of a lemon! This article is very informative and I thank you for sharing.

    • I am sorry to hear that you had that problem. I am glad that everything went well, I hope you’re feeling better and that you’re taking care of yourself. It is good that they only removed part of the gland and not the whole thing. Very interesting that you got hyperthyroidism instead of hypothyroidism.

  4. Super informative I’ve gained quite a bit of weight but I have symptoms from both columns.
    Need to check some of your suggestions out, I prefer natural methods

    • Hi Anita. Some of the symptoms can be confusing, because they can indicate many other things. For example fatigue can have a zillion causes. The worse part is that even the medical tests don’t give the real answer, but it is good to have a medical exam.

    • Annick, I am sorry to hear that. Thyroid cancer is very slow to grow, it can take up to 30 years, but it is scary. I am glad you are doing well.

  5. I’ve been tired for 10 years and with raising kids, work, aging parents I always thought it was “normal” and my drs dismissed it as well since my blood used to also come back “normal.” 2 years ago my ANA levels were elevated & that along with my symptoms, I was diagnosed with Connective Tissue Disease. My symptoms most closely resemble Lupus. It was then I realized I had to take care of myself on purpose and put my health as a top priority. Not the dishes, laundry, my job. I’m still learning and appreciate this post as it resonates with me and I’m sure so so many other women. ❤️

    • I am sorry about that Cin. It is very common to get normal results in a regular test without being “normal.” Not feeling well is never normal, it may be common, but that doesn’t make it healthy. I had the same problem, that’s how I became a nutrition consultant and personal trainer, and I started to study functional medicine and Ayurveda, to cure myself. I am glad you found something that works for you, I look forward to read your article.

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