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Are Thyroid Problems Genetic?

Updated: Apr 23, 2023


Mother and daughter sitting on a bed drinking tea together, smiling
You are more likely to have thyroid disease if one of your parents has it.

Are Thyroid Problems Genetic?


Thyroid problems tend to run in the family.


Have you ever wondered just how common thyroid issues are? You’ll probably be surprised…

It is estimated that one in eight women will develop thyroid problems in her lifetime.


And believe me, based on the number of women I work with who have thyroid problems, and this number is ABSOLUTELY believable.


Yet, new developments regarding thyroid problems are still being discovered and understood. That being said, I want to help answer some questions you may have when it comes to maintaining a healthy thyroid and the benefits that come with being aware of the way genetics play a role when it comes to inheriting a thyroid disease.


First, though, let us go over different thyroid issues and what they entail.


Hyperthyroidism VS Hypothyroidism


Hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism sound very similar, yet each thyroid disease entails completely different problems. Your thyroid gland plays a big role in releasing hormones that help regulate your weight and sustain energy levels. It also contributes to your hair, skin, nail growth, internal temperature, sex hormones, and metabolism.


Hyperthyroidism is an overactive thyroid. This means that your thyroid releases too much of a certain type of hormone. This speeds up your body's metabolism and heart rate and can lead to different problems like Graves’ disease. Symptoms can include:


  • Irregular heartbeat

  • Weakened muscles

  • Anxiety and nervousness

  • Irregular menstrual cycles


Hyperthyroidism treatment depends on the symptoms and causes of hyperthyroidism.

Some treatments include:


  • Medicine in the form of a beta-blocker blocks the effects of thyroid hormone in your body.

  • Radioiodine is a treatment that destroys the thyroid cells that make thyroid hormones.

  • Thyroid surgery, which would remove the thyroid.


Unfortunately, each of these treatments creates a new problem. Because your thyroid is either no longer producing, thyroid hormone or the hormone can no longer be absorbed, conventional hyperthyroid treatments ultimately lead to hypothyroidism.


Hypothyroidism, on the other hand, is the exact opposite. It releases too little thyroid hormones, slows the metabolism and other bodily functions down, and can lead to Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto's disease.


Symptoms can include:


  • Slow heart rate

  • Thinning hair

  • Joint pain

  • Dry skin

  • Constipation

  • Weight gain


Hypothyroidism can be treated with medicine that supplies the body with the thyroid hormone it is lacking.


There are two types of thyroid medication. Synthetic and desiccated.


Synthetic thyroid medication such as Levothyroxine. It works by replacing thyroxine (one of your thyroid hormones).


Desiccated thyroid treatments are derived from animal thyroid (usually pig) and deliver multiple thyroid hormones to your body to supplement what your own thyroid can’t make itself.


In both cases, symptoms usually improve.


Unfortunately, neither treatment addresses why your thyroid is underproducing or slow in the first place.


Additionally, if lifestyle changes aren’t also made, most people will have to take thyroid hormone treatments for the rest of their lives.


Hyperthyroidism and Hypothyroidism are the most common thyroid issues I see in my clients.


This leads us to wonder, what contributes to Thyroid disorders?



3 Things That Contribute to Thyroid Disorders


An Existing Medical Condition


For example, if we look at type 1 and 2 Diabetes in correlation to Thyroid disorders, we see how closely linked they can be. The NIH- National Library of Medicine put it simply when it said, “Diabetes affects thyroid function by altering the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) level”


Stress


Although this might be surprising, don’t undermine how big of a factor stress can be on your thyroid! Whether it be a rough day at work, or a distressing family emergency, when stressed, the hormone cortisol is released. When too much cortisol is released, it can mess with thyroid hormone production. The thyroid works extra hard just to create sufficient amounts of thyroid hormone.


Genetics


Research shows that genes can play a huge role in thyroid diseases. Up to 67% of two important hormones that come from the thyroid, TSH and Thyroxine, can be genetically determined.



Why Your Risk For Thyroid Disease is Higher: Genes


You might be wondering why your risk for thyroid disease is higher if your parents had it.


Let's talk about that! We briefly touched on genetics, but it's time to dig a little deeper into that topic.


First, though, let us talk about the two main hormones that genetics play a role in determining. Thyroxine and TSH.


Thyroxine

This hormone affects almost all of the body's systems. It helps regulate metabolism, heart functions, bone health, and many other things. Too much of this hormone causes hyperthyroidism, and not enough causes hypothyroidism. Proper thyroxine levels are vital for health.


TSH

TSH stands for thyroid-stimulating hormone. This hormone helps regulate thyroxine production. Interestingly enough, high concentrations of TSH can suggest hypothyroidism, and low concentrations can indicate hyperthyroidism.


Knowing that these two hormones are linked to our genes can help to predetermine your risk of thyroid diseases.


What does genetics have to do with thyroid disease? The more family members that have thyroid issues, the more likely you will too. Lots of individual cases of hyperthyroidism arise because a person has a mutation in one or more genes. These mutations are, unfortunately, hereditary.


Why Lifestyle Matters for Thyroid Health


Genes aren’t solely responsible for your thyroid problems. Lifestyle is also significantly involved regarding how healthy your thyroid can be.


The choices you choose to make, whether it be eating a healthy meal, going for a morning stroll, or getting enough sleep, can also pose an important factor when it comes to having thyroid problems.


So even though your genes and family history might make you more PRONE to thyroid disorders, it doesn’t mean you can’t have some level of control of the outcome.


What are some steps you can take to encourage a healthy thyroid?


  • Stick to a low-processed sugar diet. Processed sugar can cause inflammation which can worsen an underactive thyroid!


  • Cook your veggies! We hear a lot about cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower) about how they can work against our thyroid. But the thing is that no matter what vegetables you choose to eat, cooking them is key to gut health. And gut health is essential to healing your thyroid. Your veggies will be more digestible, they’ll be less irritating to your gut, and if you choose to eat cruciferous vegetables, cooking it will break down those harmful thyroid properties.


  • Relax. Studies show that stress can play a big part in causing thyroid hormone resistance.


  • Strength Training. Exercising 3 to 5 times a week can increase your muscle mass and boost your metabolism, which in turn can help to avoid weight gain. Strength training, in particular, is ideal, as too much cardio can lead to more stress on the thyroid.


  • Balancing your macros and your blood sugar. Having enough food, often enough, and eating the right kinds of food take the burden off your body by reducing stress hormones and giving your cells what they need (protein, carb, fat) to produce thyroid and sex hormones that work intricately together.



TeamArodFitness is Here For You!


We know how hard it can be to enjoy the journey of weight loss and muscle gain. Especially for ladies with thyroid problems. That’s why we’ve created a specific journey for you! So that you can see the progress!


Our individualized programs, gut support guide, and more will help you get started! We want to do our part to make you feel the healthiest and happiest you can be, no matter your family history and current thyroid struggles. Get started with us today!

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