ASCP Skin Deep

March | April 2014

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Create your free business website! 9 Thyroid Hormones A well-balanced thyroid means healthy skin by Shelley Burns The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck, is very important in managing metabolism. If it is not working well, skin health is one of the areas that can be badly affected. Several hormones are associated with the thyroid. Hormones are chemical messengers that act as triggers for the body's various functions and help keep our bodies in balance. The thyroid's functions are triggered by thyroid- stimulating hormone (TSH), produced by the pituitary gland. The thyroid itself produces the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Balance is Key When the thyroid is overactive (hyperthyroidism), it produces too much T3 and T4. There are many negative physical effects of this imbalance, but those related to the skin include clamminess, flushing, uncontrolled sweating, and uneven skin tone. People with an overactive thyroid tend to look red and overheated. Other effects include heart palpitations, heat sensitivity, and weight loss. With an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), skin will become dry to the point of cracking and can also become coarse and thick. Fine lines and wrinkles appear more readily. Fluid retention makes the skin puffy. The nails and hair are also affected: nails become brittle and begin to peel and break, while hair thins or sheds faster. Other effects include tiredness, weight gain, and an inability to keep warm. wellness Measuring Hormonal Levels If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a thyroid imbalance, speak with your health-care practitioner. Thyroid function is checked with a blood test. If an imbalance is suspected, ask your physician to measure TSH, T3, and T4. Often TSH is the only hormone that is measured, which does not give us the full picture and can lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Support Your Thyroid The good news is that thyroid function can be supported and mild imbalances brought back on track, using a corrected diet. Iodine is the key to thyroid function, and one of the best ways to get iodine in your diet is to include seaweed or seafood. If you use salt in your cooking, check to see if it's iodized. Before seafood was readily available in inland areas, thyroid disease was such a problem that iodine was added to salt as a public health precaution. Consider introducing seaweed into your diet. Mix it into salads, eat sushi, or enjoy the seaweed snacks that are now available in most health food stores and supermarkets. When you are making your salad, include pumpkin seeds, which are a great source of other thyroid-supporting nutrients: iron, zinc, and B vitamins. People with thyroid problems should avoid goitrogenic foods (foods that inhibit iodine uptake). These include raw broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, other cruciferous vegetables, and soy products. This is not an exhaustive list, so do your own research into goitrogenic foods if this is an area of concern for you. The problem only occurs when these foods are eaten raw, so there is no reason to avoid them altogether— just make sure you eat them steamed or cooked, and your thyroid and skin will be happy. Shelley Burns, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, completed studies at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and has certification in complementary and integrative medicine from Harvard University. She can be reached at the Executive Health Centre at 416- 222-5880 or Thyroid Gland

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