Unfortunately, your thyroid is more likely to play up as you age. With 1 in 12 women struggling in perimenopause and 1 in 6 women with thyroid issues post-menopause. That's huge!
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is by far the most common thyroid issue. But hyperthyroidism, nodular thyroid disease, and thyroid cancer are also at an increased risk as you age. As hypothyroidism is the most common, it's what I’ll focus on here. Signs and symptoms of underactive thyroid are very similar to menopause and often go undiagnosed due to this.
Due to the similarities and the increased frequency of thyroid issues, it is very important to test your thyroid function thoroughly. Determine if your symptoms are menopause or thyroid related as you won’t get long term result until you determine the underlying cause of your problem and work specifically on that.
The tests I recommend include:
Your brain sends down Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to encourage the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) into T3 (active thyroid hormone). T3 then sends a feedback message to the brain to say thanks we have enough you can reduce the amount of TSH, all is good here. But when T3 levels aren’t good that message doesn’t get through and your TSH level gets higher and higher. Under times of stress, T4 is sent down a different pathway and produces rT3 (also inactive) instead of T3, this also prevents the feedback message and TSH can raise. Thyroid antibodies should be investigated as well. These can start to elevate a decade before the thyroid is damaged enough to stop converting T4 to T3 and for blood tests to indicate an issue by looking at abnormal TSH levels. It's like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle without all the pieces. It's worth paying for private testing so you can see the entire picture.
Essential nutrients for optimal thyroid function include:
It is essential to clean up your diet if you have a thyroid condition. Some foods known as goitrogens further reduce the functioning of your thyroid and these include raw cruciferous vegetables eg bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and spinach. These can be deactivated by cooking. Soy products such as tofu and tempeh also contain goitrogenic compounds and should be avoided.
If your thyroid isn’t optimally functioning you also need to avoid food containing gluten, dairy, and sugar.