The little-known health condition affecting one million Australians that’s causing you to put on weight – and the signs to look out for
- Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward highlighted thyroid dysfunction as a big problem
- Thyroid affects your metabolism hugely and can cause your weight to change
Leading dietitians have shared the signs and symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, as it’s revealed it affects one million Australians and women more than men.
Susie Burrell, from Sydney, and Leanne Ward, from Brisbane, are the co-hosts of the popular nutrition podcast The Nutrition Couch which aims to dispel myths around dieting and healthy eating and explain how you can produce the best results.
Thyroid dysfunction involves either the over or under activity of the thyroid gland. Your thyroid creates and produces hormones that play a vital role in many different systems throughout your body.
If your thyroid isn’t functioning properly, you may gain or lose weight quickly and unexpectedly.
Dietitians shared the signs and symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, as it’s revealed it affects one million Australians and women more than men (Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward pictured)
According to Susie and Leanne, it’s of ‘vital importance’ that the thyroid gland is functioning and perfectly in balance.
‘The thyroid gland regulates metabolism alongside a host of other things, and thyroid problems can have a profound effect on how we feel on a day-to-day basis,’ Susie said on the show.
She added: ‘Over a million Aussies live with thyroid dysfunction and it’s particularly common here because our soil is very low in iodine, which is important to regulate thyroid function.’
The dietitians explained that the thyroid is a gland that is located ‘at the front of the neck near where the voice box is’.
‘It has a key role in regulating a number of the body’s systems including the body and brain, temperature, energy levels and metabolic function,’ Susie said.
If you have thyroid dysfunction, your thyroid gland will either be underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism).
Hypothyroidism is more common than hyperthyroidism.
‘The thyroid gland regulates metabolism alongside a host of other things, and thyroid problems can have a profound effect on how we feel on a day-to-day basis,’ Susie said (ideal plate of food to help thyroid dysfunction pictured)
Hypothyroidism – the facts
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is a condition in which your thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain crucial hormones.
Over time, untreated hypothyroidism can cause a number of health problems, such as obesity, joint pain, infertility and heart disease.
Early symptoms of hypothyroidism can be fatigue and weight gain.
But as the metabolism continues to slow, patients may develop more-obvious problems.
These can include constipation, dry skin, weight gain, puffy face, muscle weakness, elevated blood cholesterol level, and pain, stiffness or swelling in joints.
Most cases of an underactive thyroid are caused by the immune system attacking the thyroid gland and damaging it, or by damage that occurs as a result of treatments for thyroid cancer or an overactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism – the facts
Hyperthyroidism happens when the thyroid gland makes too much thyroid hormone. This condition also is called overactive thyroid.. This condition also is called overactive thyroid.
Hyperthyroidism speeds up the body’s metabolism. That can cause many symptoms, such as weight loss, hand tremors, and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
Thyroid hormones control the way the body uses energy, so they affect nearly every organ in your body, even the way your heart beats. With too much thyroid hormone, many of your body’s functions speed up.
Early symptoms of hyperthyroidism include nervousness, irritability, mood swings, difficulty sleeping, feeling tired all the time, muscle weakness and diarrhoea.
You may also start to lose weight quickly and unexpectedly if you have an overactive thyroid.
While it is a medical condition that needs to be managed accordingly, the dietitians said a diet that is rich in fruit, veg, dairy, complex carbs and protein will help (pictured)
Leanne said the signs and symptoms of both dysfunctions are different but distinctive.
If you have hypothyroidism, the signs might be excessive tiredness, more sensitivity to the cold, sudden constipation, weight gain and puffiness and dry skin.
If you have hyperthyroidism, the symptoms include nervousness, anxiety and irritability, difficulty sleeping, mood swings, muscle weakness, sudden unexplained weight loss and diarrhoea.
‘There are some diet strategies for both, but thyroid dysfunction is a medical condition. A diet can’t fix it,’ Leanne said.
‘If you have either it, it requires specific management with a GP to get the balance right.’
Some might mistake it for iron deficiency, as many of the signs and symptoms are similar.
If you suspect your thyroid might not be performing correctly, the best thing to do is have your levels checked.
The dietitians advised that you also modify your diet and be sure to include at least five portions of fruit and veg a day, plenty of high fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta and some dairy as well as beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein.