The average person who can't lose weight - despite eating right and exercising - is generally frustrated and frankly stumped.
For many, diet and exercise have always proven effective, and yet now - for some reason - they don't. Sometimes just a little. Sometimes not at all.
Those who dig deeper often find that weight problems could be due to a sluggish thyroid. Feeling an inkling of hope, many ask their doctors to run a test, and lo' and behold the results often come back normal. How can that be?
These results tend to stun - especially when weight gain continues to be an issue and/or we suffer from other hypothyroid hallmarks - feeling cold, old and depressed.
Given that so many symptoms of low thyroid overlap with other hormone imbalances, we may not get the answers needed unless we find a healthcare provider who goes beyond the standard TSH test to address thyroid imbalances in the greater context of hormone imbalance.
Our bodies produce more than one thyroid hormone. The most abundant is thyroxine (T4), a prohormone, which converts to triiodothyroinine (T3), the most active thyroid hormone in the body. We need our body to make adequate levels of these two hormones since we rely heavily on them for an active metabolism.
So one answer to the original question about that so-called "normal" test result is that testing TSH alone is not going to give us the whole story because it does not take the active thyroid levels into account.
Nor can a single thyroid test identify imbalances of the steroid or adrenal hormones that serve to seriously inhibit thyroid function.
Discovering how well our thyroid is actually working requires a big picture assessment of all hormone levels that matter.
When it comes to a healthy thyroid, the efficient conversion of the inactive precursor T4 to active T3 has to occur - so anything that interferes with that crucial conversion process will decrease thyroid function, slow metabolism (to make weight loss even harder), and trigger a raft of low thyroid symptoms.
From hormone imbalances to mineral deficiencies and environmental pollutants, a range of factors can interfere with thyroid function. Here are some of the worst culprits:
- Estrogen dominance - Thyroid problems are more prevalent in women, particularly those in the menopause transition. Note: Excess estrogens bind up active thyroid hormones
- Elevated cortisol stress hormones - Explained in this helpful webinar, The Adrenal &Thyroid Connection.
- Iodine deficiency - Outlined in this blog, Environmental Elements & Your Thyroid Health.
- Selenium and zinc deficiency - Touched on in this blog, Metal Elements on a Mineral Mission to Mars.
- Vitamin D deficiency - Discussed by Dr. Sherry LaBeck in her blog, The Phenomenon of Vitamin D.
- Arsenic or mercury toxicity - Addressed in Ted Zava's blog on elements that can affect thyroid function.
- Endocrine distuptors (chemicals that disrupt estrogen metabolism) - Explained in this helpful blog, Endocrine Disruptors: What They Are & How to Avoid Them.
Taking action to target and take out those hidden saboteurs of thyroid health can help us master the thyroid game.