Most people, like all the men in my family that I know have zero clue about this amazing hormone does in the body. They have no idea why they need to look after it, and no idea how to identify that it’s low. Thyroid is what’s considered a master hormone, it controls hundreds of bodily functions, only some of which you consciously know about. The rest of the thyroid functions you don’t know about, they just crack on with their business until something goes wrong and you get sick.

With there being books and huge volumes of studies into thyroid function, I’m going to do my best to keep it simple. To keep things relevant to men’s health and the main things that you can do identify and then improve thyroid function.

Main functions of and types of thyroid.

There are a few different types of thyroid hormone in the body. The main one that your doctor will test for is TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). This really is a test of your pituitary gland which makes TSH to tell your thyroid gland to produce and release thyroid hormones. The main thyroid hormones we need to look are T4, T3 and the bad guy RT3.

T4 is a generally the most abundant form of thyroid.  T3 is being made by cutting off one of the molecules to make a more active form. Around 80% of the T3 is made in organs like the liver and kidneys. With only 20% being secreted directly from the thyroid gland into the blood stream. T4 and T3 both have cross over roles when it comes to things that they do in the body. I’m not going to list out every single thing that they do because we’ll be here all day. We don’t have the time for that…

Here is a table of what thyroid hormones do in different types of tissue around the body.

Allow me to jargon bust a minute here.

  • Lipolysis is the breakdown of fats.
  • Catecholamine’s act both as neurotransmitters and hormones vital to the maintenance of homeostasis (balance) through the autonomic nervous system (things you don’t have a choice in). Dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine are physiologically active molecules known as catecholamine’s. Also known as adrenaline.
  • In the heart thyroid enhances the intropic (strength of heart beat) and the chronotropic (timing of the beats).
  • Gluconeogenesis is the production of new sugar
  • Metabolism is the breakdown food and use of chemicals from food to power the body
  • Catabolic is a breakdown of any type of tissue

The only other main function that I want to tell you about is the smooth muscle contraction that thyroid helps to produce. Its technical term is peristalsis. The way peristalsis works if you imagine you’re getting to the end of your tube of toothpaste. You generally squeeze from the bottom of the tube to make the remaining toothpaste come out the top. Thyroid is basically doing the same job that your hand does but does that job every tube in the body. The intestines, the veins the arteries, the capillaries and blood vessels. Why is this important? Because you cannot voluntarily contract these muscles. Can you imagine if you had to think about contracting miles of veins to get blood back into your heart, to then squeeze it out to the lungs to pick oxygen. Bring it back to the heart and then pump it around your body again? On top of that you’d have to think about contracting your intestines down the whole 21.5 meters of small and large. That’s a lot of tubing to have to think about contracting and moving food and then waste product out of.

Why am I telling you this?

Because if you’re not producing enough or not converting enough thyroid hormone. It means that you don’t contract your smooth muscle. This means with the blood system, getting the deoxygenated blood back to your heart. Becomes a much harder job to do because there is less muscle contraction in the veins. This means that to get the blood back to the heart it needs to be pumped out of the heart with more pressure.

To give you an analogy here, think about your body like a race track where your heart is the pit stop and also provides the propulsion for the car (your blood). Then half way around the car gets sucked back to the pit stop. The thyroid in your veins is what provides the suction. If there is not enough suction to get the car back then pit station has to send the car out with more speed and pressure to get all the way back. This is just one of the potential causes of high blood pressure in ageing men. Low thyroid means low movement in all the tubes. If you’re noticing that you’re pooping less often that can also be a sign of thyroid slowing down. Get to the docs and talk to them about it!

Signs and symptoms your thyroid might be under or over active.

Hypothyroidism (underactive) Hyperthyroidism (overactive)
Weight gain Can’t gain weight
Cold hands and feet Always hot
Hair falling out Insomnia
Brittle nails Irregular menstral cycles in women (we only need to worry about being on the receiving end)
Pale skin Restless leg syndrome
Low energy and tired all the time Graves disease
Minimal sex drive Heart palpatations

Other signs or symptoms can include but are not limited to:

  • Sleeping anywhere regardless of noise levels (low)
  • Low poop frequency (less than once a day)
  • High blood pressure (low thyroid)
  • High blood triglycerides (low thyroid)
  • High heart rate (high thyroid)
  • Retraction of eyelids making the eyes look bulged (overactive)
  • Digestive disorders and slow transit time (eat some sweetcorn and time how long it takes till you see it in the bowl after you’ve gone for a shit. Any more than 30 hours is too long and you should mention it to your doctor)

What is thyroid made of?

Iodine and a protein carrier. The number of iodine molecules dictate whether you have T4 a less active for or T3 the more active form. Why is it important to know what it’s made of? Because then you can start eating food that thyroid is made of. Keeping your iodine levels where you need them and not becoming hypothyroid. It also should indicate to you that you also need adequate levels of protein in your body too. I always recommend 1-2g per kg of total body weight for this.

This ensures you have enough protein in your system to help support a huge number of functions. Including, liver function, skin, hair and nail growth, muscle repair, brain protection and nutrients and the list goes on. I’ll go into where to find the best sources of iodine in a natural diet later on. Before then I want to quickly explain the flow chart of how your body actually makes thyroid hormones.

How is it made?

The reason I’ve detailed out the other things that tyrosine goes on to make will be become clear in a bit. It’s all to do with stress and how the body will prioritise stress and survival over everything else.

Explaining this process above is a bit like looking at a flow chart in number order it goes like this.

  1. Eat protein and break it down to amino acid size.
  2. Phenylalanine converts into tyrosine
  3. Tyrosine will make thyroxine, melanin (skin pigment) and melatonin (helps to send you to sleep)
  4. Thyroxine (T4) will go onto to do various jobs and get converted into T3

It seems a relative simple process in the grand scheme of biochemical processes that exist in the body. It’s simple as long as you’re eating enough protein and veggies to provide the macro and micronutrient levels to sustain this. Remember as humans as we age the only hormone that increases in the body is stress (cortisol)

How stress will impact thyroid production.

Imagine this red line is after your brain has received a stress response. What happens next is your body gets the message that you’ve either got to run and flee from a predator or a fight. Or that you’re going to stand your ground and start engaging in a physical fight. To do either of these things fight or flee, you don’t need to be making thyroid hormone in excess quantities. Your body doesn’t need to be making hormones to send you to sleep or keep your skin pigmented. Your body receives the message of do what we can to survive. That means send all the nutrients, blood sugar and everything possible to muscles and the brain ready for action.

If you ever notice that people after long periods of stress seem a lot paler, this is the reason. Their body is prioritising survival over optimal health. If you’re not able to sleep because you’re stressed it’s because your body is bypassing the channel by which you make the hormone that sends you to sleep.

These sources of stress can come from anywhere and everywhere. Kids, partners, finances, emails from your boss, lockdown, isolation, under nourishment, moving house, illness the list goes on. The longer these periods of repeated stress continue to happen. The more your body is going to push the pathway of making more stress hormone and less of everything else. Including thyroid hormone, testosterone, growth hormone, oestrogen and all the digestive enzymes that you need to break down your food.

As you can see managing your stress could well be the key to helping heal your ailing thyroid levels, not by given medication that contains more tyrosine. If you’re still stressed and then put tyrosine into the system, you’re only going to make more cortisol and push that stress pathway even more.

Keys to impriving thyroid function.

My best advice here because I’ve already written quite a lot about stress. Is to head over to rahaman.academy and pick a copy of my eBook “F*ck off I’m stressed” use discount code MENSCOACH for 50% off.

What I will say here is that one of most important thing you can do when it comes to stress is the following: Identify your sources, work out why they’re causing you so much stress, then plan how you can manage that source of stress. Whether you go out for walks or runs, head to the gym once they reopen, practice meditation or head to the golf course. Make sure that you plan time to get whatever stress you have built up out of your system.

For me personally I love to head to the gym and lift heavy or head to the driving and smack the shit out of golf balls. Once I’ve got the anger out of the way I then follow some guided meditations. They might be about relaxation, visions of future prosperity, raising your vibration levels or meeting your spirit guides. I find this practice works for me, but it won’t work for everyone. This is a journey that I can help you with, but you have to find the way to your inner zen.

When it comes to food and supplements, this is what I recommend for my clients. I would normally personalise this to them specifically. So what I’ve posted here are some guidelines. Before you start any kind of diet or supplement regime, check with your doctor 1st! This is massively important, especially if you’re already taking any kind of medication.

Food recommendations Supplement recommendations
Veggies, as many as you can handle Iodine 150mcg daily
Sea foods, prawns, lobster, muscles etc. Calcium 1000-2500mg daily
Sea foods, sea vegetables, sea weed, kelp Chromium 800-1000mg daily
Meats, organic and wild if possible Folate 200mg daily
Whole grains Vitamins A, C, D and E
Nuts B-vitamins 1, 3, 5
soy

As stated, CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TAKING ANY SUPPLEMENTS!!!

As stated guys, this a guide and should not be taken literally in terms of the supplement dosing. Consult your doctor 1st!!!!!! I cannot stress this enough.

I hope this clears up thyroid function for you men. Don’t just accept the fact that you’re getting older and a bit more tired it’s just what happens. It doesn’t need to be like that, you can still have a lot of energy and gusto about yourself. But you have to start doing the right things now!

For your own personal guide of how to support your thyroid function get in contact today. I will make you feel better, want to shag and have more energy!

Thanks for reading.