#319 Thyroid and Metabolism

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Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.


Your Thyroid and You

By Denis Faye

In your neck, under your larynx, you'll find a less-than-an-ounce gland that looks like a butterfly—a very ugly butterfly. This is your thyroid, and believe it or not, this tiny lump of flesh regulates your entire metabolism. When it works, your metabolism works and life is fine. But when it doesn't work? Well, it's pretty amazing how one little butterfly can cause so many problems. The thyroid's task is relatively simple. It takes the iodine you get from your diet, usually from seafood and iodized salt, and combines it with san amino acid (a protein-building block) called tyrosine to create two hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones then travel throughout your system, regulating your metabolism or the conversion of oxygen and calories to energy.

Thyroid, Larnyx, and Trachea

There are numerous things that can go wrong with your thyroid. Here's just a small sample:

  • Goiter, an enlargement of the gland that can easily be removed.
  • Thyroid Cancer, which can also usually be removed.
  • Hyperthyroidism, when the thyroid makes too much hormone.
  • Hypothyroidism, when it isn't making enough.

VitaminsUsually, medications can get hyperthyroidism under control; however, removing a portion of the gland is sometimes required. Keep in mind that if you suffer from hyperthyroidism, it's best to ask your doctor about any vitamins or supplements you might be taking. Some vitamins and supplements contain iodine, like Beachbody's ActiVit® Multivitamins and Total Health Women's Formula. You'll want to avoid iodine, given that you're trying to slow your thyroid and iodine just stimulates it.

On the other side of the fence, there's hypothyroidism. There are two primary causes of this condition. First, it can occur when you've had a hunk of your thyroid removed to deal with something like cancer, a goiter, or ironically, hyperthyroidism. The second most common cause of hypothyroidism is a swelling of the gland that leaves most of its cells dead. Often, the cause for this is called autoimmune thyroiditis, when the body's own immune system turns on the thyroid, causing inflammation. There are several symptoms of hypothyroidism, including:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight

ScaleOften, people who are having problems losing weight will instantly point at their thyroids. It's a fine thing to check—a simple blood test usually does the trick—but keep in mind that you'll most likely have some of those other symptoms as well.

If you do have hypothyroidism, it's usually easily treatable with medication, often a synthetic form of the T4 hormone. Keep in mind, though, that getting the treatment just right is a little bit of a guessing game. It might take your medical professional a few medications to find the right one, and even when he or she does, it can take a couple months for your hormone levels to get back to normal. And even then, patients often find that losing weight remains difficult. There could be many reasons for this, including other medications you're taking, such as antidepressants or steroids. Stress can also play a factor, as can depression or other hormonal imbalances. But this is no reason to give up on fitness. Even though your metabolism is impaired, it's still there and you'll benefit from exercise by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Proper medical treatment plays a major role in treating thyroid issues, but there are also two important things you can do.

10-Minute Trainer®Exercise. The main problem with hypothyroidism is that your metabolism has slowed down. The simple fact is that muscle takes more energy than fat to maintain, so if you exercise, you raise even a slow metabolism. Also, working out can help you deal with some of the other problems associated with the condition, including depression. So whether you choose 10-Minute Trainer®, Hip Hop Abs®, or Turbo Jam®, make exercise a priority, but remember to consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Diet. Obviously, a healthy, calorie-controlled diet can still help you lose weight, or at the very least, it can help prevent additional weight gain. Additionally, numerous studies point to some foods containing goitrogens, naturally occurring substances that interfere with thyroid function. Avoiding large amounts of these foods, particularly raw, is a good idea. Your nutritionist should be able to provide you with more information about goitrogens. Here's a partial list:

  • Soybean-based foods, such as tofu and soy milk
  • Cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard, rutabaga and turnips. (Note that if your thyroid is healthy, these veggies are all still good for you. Nice try.)
  • Millet
  • Peaches
  • Peanuts
  • Pine nuts

Related Articles
"8 Foods to Boost Your Metabolism"
"Is Your Thyroid Making You Fat?"
"Boost Your Immune System Naturally"
"7 Foods With Healing Power"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this Thursday, August 14th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Denis FayeIf you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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10 Olympic Story Lines to Watch

By Steve Edwards

No matter how commercialism or politics try to interfere, the Olympics is still the bastion of good old-fashioned sporting entertainment. Sure, there are a lot of high-profile athletes at the Games, but most of them have slaved away in obscurity for one chance to shine in the spotlight. By the time you get this, the Olympics will be in full swing, but most of the story lines will still be developing. Here are some of our favorites.

Olympics: Cycling, Swimming, Track

  1. Michael PhelpsMichael Phelps. You'd have to have been hiding out in a cave to not have heard about his quest to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics, but that doesn't mean it's not dramatic. He's already been involved in what's being called the greatest race in the history of swimming, and he still has six events to go.

  2. The fastest swimming venue ever. The Chinese pulled out all of the stops for their pool, which was designed to help swimmers move as fast as possible. In one race, six swimmers broke the existing world record, which was set in the previous race. And this is just day 2.

  3. Spanish CyclistThe war on drugs. A Spanish cyclist (shocking) became doping scandal number one at the Games on day two. World Anti-Doping Agency officials are predicting 30-40 positives during the Olympics, yet almost every athlete caught feigns surprise and says their sport is clean. Is this the year it finally blows up?

  4. Dream Team II. Embarrassed at faltering on the world's stage, the USA has put together its best group since the original Dream Team hammered the world in '92. But basketball has changed a lot in the last decade, and even with LeBron and Kobe, gold is hardly a forgone conclusion.

  5. Becky HammonThe Ex-Pat Games. More than 30 foreign-born athletes will compete for the USA in Beijing. What do you do when you haven't won a middle-distance medal in decades? Nationalize a Kenyan. But we're not alone. WNBA all-star Becky Hammon will play for Russia, and Clipper Chris Kaman will play for Germany, even though both were born and raised in America. The U.S. coach called Hammon a traitor. Hammon counters that she wasn't even invited to try out for the U.S. team. If this continues, the Olympics could go the way of the America's Cup—where the best athletes sign on with the highest bidder.

  6. The dash. Whatever you do, don't miss the 100-meter final. It should feature the three fastest runners in history.

  7. USA GymnasticsWomen's gymnastics. The China vs. USA rivalry in women's gymnastics is one for the ages. They've traded ever-so-close victories over the last two years. The rubber match is on the biggest stage of all.

  8. Liu Xiang. The 110-meter high hurdler from China has a tad bit of pressure on him. He's been the best hurdler in the world over the last few years. This year, however, someone has run faster. Xiang has been called the savior of Chinese track and field, and his coach reportedly said that if he doesn't win in Beijing, all of his accolades mean nothing. But don't worry about that. Just relax and enjoy the moment.

  9. Dara Torres and BabyIs 40 the new 20? 41-year-old Dara Torres began swimming again just to get in shape after having a baby. Now she's making her fifth trip to the Olympics. 39-year-old Sheila Taormina has become the first person to qualify for the Games in three different sports. And cyclist Jeanne Longo, 49, who has competed in seven Olympic Games, is already talking about the next one.

  10. Beachbody goes to the Olympics. Okay, so maybe this isn't a story to watch, but we'll be blogging live from China during the second half of the games. P90X® is now a legitimate training program used by high-level athletes. We're always on the lookout for the next great thing. Maybe we'll find it in Beijing.

Related Articles
"Why Korean Women Don't Get Fat"
"6 Tips to Slim Down the German Way"
"7 Tips to Slim Down the Irish Way"
"How French Women Stay Slim (Without Starving)"

Got something to say? Chat with the writers and other readers this Thursday, August 14th, at 8:00 PM ET, 5:00 PM PT in the Beachbody Chatroom!

Steve EdwardsIf you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in Steve Edwards' Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive Steve Edwards' Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe to Steve's Health and Fitness Newsletter. And if you'd like to know more about Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Test Your Dark Leafy Green IQ!

By Joe Wilkes

Dark-green leafy vegetables are great metabolism boosters. How much do you know about them?

  1. ArugulaWhat popular salad green is also known as rocket? Arugula or Eruca sativa. This spicy Mediterranean native is rich in potassium and vitamin C. It is popular in salads in America and as a pizza topping in Italy.

  2. Which dark leafy green is considered the ancestor of most types of cabbage? Kale, also known as "wild cabbage." Kale was very popular in northern climates like Scandinavia and Germany as it thrives in low temperatures and even frost, and it is one of the hardiest of all vegetables. It's a great source of iron, calcium, and vitamins C and K.

  3. Dandelion GreensWhich common garden weed has even more vitamins than broccoli? A one-cup serving of dandelion greens contains more than 4 times as much vitamin A and almost twice as much vitamin K, calcium, and iron. If you're going to eat them out of your yard, the key is to pick the greens before the plant flowers, as they become bitter then. Only get dandelions from your yard or some place you know, so you don't eat greens sautéed in weed killer.

  4. What green comes in ruby, yellow, and rainbow varieties? Swiss chard, so named because it was discovered by a Swiss botanist, is from the same species as the beet but is cultivated for its leaves rather than its roots.

  5. East Palo AltoWhat city recently concluded the 2008 Collard Green Festival? California's East Palo Alto held the festival on July 26th. It celebrates the green as well as the community's African American heritage—early slaves cooked big pots of leftover greens for sustenance, an early version of soul food. The festival raises money for education. And yes, the festival did feature collard green ice cream!

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

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