One of the more common symptoms of thyroid disorders is the patient’s inability to lose weight. Typically, this is the first clue that something is wrong. Often, the patient is told that the weight will come off once thyroid replacement medication is started. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always occur and the weight gains can continue despite “normal” TSH levels. It may seem to the patient that it doesn’t matter how little they eat or how much they exercise, the weight gain won’t go away.
Changes in Brain Chemistry and Intestinal Hyper-permeability
Hunger is intricately tied to your brain chemistry. Your hypothalamus senses you need energy and issues the brain neurotransmitter, neuropeptide Y (NPY), with the message “eat carbohydrates.” The surge of NPY is what you experience as “hunger,” Once the hypothalamus senses you’ve eaten enough carbohydrates, it releases serotonin to tell the body “enough carbohydrates.”
But this system can be dramatically altered by several factors, all of which can be present in chronic thyroid disease:
- Your metabolism is too slow for the appetite level set by your brain. Thyroid disease slows down the metabolism. What your brain perceives as appropriate food intake levels can then exceed your body’s metabolism, creating weight gain.
- Your body is under stress, which interferes with the neurotransmitter functions, and is known to reduce the release of serotonin.
- 95% of your serotonin is not produced in your brain but in your gut.
- Hyperpermeability of the intestinal lining can be caused by food sensitivities, especially wheat gluten. Damage to the intestinal lining can lower serotonin production.
Summary: You can’t diet your way out of this problem. The gut and brain issues need to be resolved first. Food sensitivity testing, nutritional counseling, brain based therapy, cortisol testing, and specific dietary modifications are ways to effectively treat this problem. Contact us for more information.