What Exactly Is Low Thyroid Disease?

Our country is in the grip of yet another energy crisis. Both men and women are working harder, demanding more of themselves, and are pressured to get more done in less time. With the increased pace of life and the increased chemical contamination of our air, food, and water, people are more than simply work-exhausted or stressed out.

Many are actually developing a chronic, low-energy illness. One of the most common places for this energy illness to strike is the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped, hormone-producing tissue at the lower front of the neck. It is walnut-size, located just below the Adam’s apple. When this gland is hampered by illness, causing reduced production of thyroid hormone, every bodily function is diminished.

ThyroidThis is because every cell in the body needs small amounts of thyroid hormone to function optimally. People vary in just what functions are diminished most when thy-roid hormone is low. For some, the function most affected is energy level. For others, it is body temperature. For still others, it can be per- sonality (low mood) or lowered resistance to infection.

Some people have many symptoms, while others have only a few. Regardless of the number of symptoms, the lay term for the condition is low thyroid. The medical terminology, however, is more complex, and diagno- sis depends on ascertaining just why the gland is underproducing thyroid hormone. This is the crux of the whole issue.

Why would one of the body’s most important endocrine glands start slowing its production at a time when full operation is needed more than ever? Let’s take a closer look. The thyroid gland can be viewed as a tiny but powerful throttle mechanism, because the energy hormone it produces acts like a gas pedal for the rest of the body. The hormone circulates through the bloodstream and enters each cell. Then, in the presence of thyroid hormone, a complex protein molecule binds to DNA in a different manner than it would without the presence of thyroid hormone. This entire mechanism described above functions like a toggle switch to turn cellular machinery on or off.

In doing this, it regulates cell temperature, cell function, and cell growth. The thyroid gland, therefore, controls every chemical reaction of every organ in the body. Without it, the body would cool off and slow down to the point of death. One can get along without a uterus or a prostate gland, or without ovaries, testes, or even a kidney. One cannot survive without thyroid hormone. A person whose thyroid gland is removed needs a daily supplement of thyroid hormone.

Low thyroid conditions do not cause people to die. Instead they cause people to feel half-dead, or sometimes to wish they were dead. The symptoms range from annoying to debilitating, with many peo-ple experiencing a severity somewhere in between. As we have said, the illness is frustrating, surprisingly common, and alarmingly on the increase.

In fact, this condition could rapidly become known as the disease of our time. The little thyroid gland manages to do a big job by combining two rather simple substances, which together make thyroid hormone. One of these is iodine. This common element is naturally abundant in foods from the oceans and coastal regions of the planet, but is more scarce inland.

Worldwide, the cause of most low thyroid function is low dietary iodine. In other words, low thyroid occurs when a person is not consuming enough iodine to make sufficient quantities of thyroid hor- mone to fuel the body cells. In our country, however, low iodine has ceased to be the cause of low thyroid function, because extra iodine is put into various foodstuffs, including table salt and bread dough.

The second substance needed to make thyroid hormone is tyrosine, a common amino acid found in most proteins. Amino acids are simple organic molecules, either manufactured easily in the body or obtained from the digestion of protein in the diet. Tyrosine is so abundant that a lack of it cannot be causing the widespread low thyroid epidemic seen in industrialized nations.

You can find some information regarding thyroid diet here.

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Last updated on November 4, 2013