If you have experienced changes in your regular bowel habits, thyroid problems may be the culprit. Thyroid problems are one of the most common problems that impact metabolism. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped organ that is located in the neck and surrounds the voice box.
Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid gland. The gland produces excessive amounts of the hormone thyroxine. Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism include unexplained weight loss, sweating, irregular heart beat, nervousness and irritability. Another common symptom is a sudden increase in the frequency of bowel movements.
Hyperthyroidism is also called Graves disease. People with this condition may develop swelling around the base of the throat, called a goiter. Older adults who have Graves disease may show only subtle signs of the illness. Frequently bowel movements, sensitivity to heat or becoming easily exhausted can be important signals.
Hypothyroidism is an underactive thyroid gland. It does not produce enough thyroxine. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include sudden unexplained increases in weight, depression, brittle hair and nails and extreme fatigue. Additionally, many people with an underactive thyroid report difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep.
Approximately 90 percent of people with an underactive thyroid have Hashimoto’s syndrome. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.
Because hypothyroidism causes metabolism to slow down throughout the body, the frequency of bowel movements may also decrease. Unexplained constipation or having bowel movements significantly less often then normal can be a subtle sign of changes in metabolism due to an underactive thyroid.
In women, an underactive thyroid can also cause changes in their menstrual cycle. Periods may become more frequent and heavier. Additionally, many women with underactive thyroid glands have difficulty conceiving.
Although conventional treatments for thyroid problems often involve taking synthetic hormones and even surgery, there are natural alternatives available. Many patients report that eliminating processed foods, including wheat products and sugar improves their health. The tissue of the thyroid gland is similar to gluten molecules. Eating foods high in gluten can increase symptoms. Shifting to a gluten free diet can improve symptoms.
Eating foods that interfere with thyroid function can also exacerbate symptoms. Foods such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, rutabaga, spinach, strawberries and peanuts are high in goitrogens. However, cooking these foods neutralizes the compounds.
Unexplained changes in your bowel health, weight and level of exhaustion can be symptoms of thyroid problems. As with many health problems, eating a diet with little or no processed foods can dramatically impact how you feel and the function of vital systems that regulate metabolism.
- The Alternative Daily