Thyroid Making You Hungry? -- Causes
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June 9, 2013, last updated July 7, 2014
By Alison Turner,  Contributing Columnist

Have you ever felt that no matter how much you eat or what
you eat all you want to do is eat more?  If this rogue appetite
is not stemming from a break-up or any other kind of
emotional binging, it could be that hyperthyroidism is to
blame for your excessive hunger.  

Hyperthyroidism is what it sounds like --an overactive
thyroid. Hyperthyroidism not only affects your appetite.  The
out-of-control hyperactive thyroid puts many of your other
body functions on overdrive. For example, having this
condition puts you at much greater risk for osteoporosis. The
hyperactive thyroid speeds up the turnover of bone
production by 100%, with a net loss of bone mass, according
to a 2013 study led by Dr. Jagoda Gorka of the University of
Saskatchewan in Canada.

The Cleveland Clinic predicts that overt thyrotoxicosis --- the
presence of excess thyroid hormones in the tissues that is
largely caused by hyperthyroidism --- is found in about 0.5%
of people.

How Does the Thyroid Gland Work and Why Do Things Go

The thyroid gland weighs less than an ounce but can
determine whether we’re happy and healthy or suffering
from physiological problems.  The thyroid gland is wrapped
around the windpipe below the voice box and follows the
orders of the pituitary gland, which is even smaller (about
the size of a pea), and signals to the thyroid the amount of
hormones to make.  

The amount of hormones that the thyroid produces controls
the rate at which our cells, tissues, and organs function via
hormones.  These hormones affect our metabolism, that is,
the way in which nutrients are converted into energy.   While
in most people this system is just another smooth functioning
marvel of nature, there are conditions that can knock the
whole system off course.  

Disease or medicines can break down communication from
the pituitary gland so that the amount of hormones that the
thyroid produces is either too little (hypothyroidism) or too
much (hyperthyroidism).

What are the symptoms of hyperthyroidism?  It could be that
you have hyperthyroidism but don’t realize it until the
condition has progressed significantly.  Symptoms are many
and varied, including an enlarged thyroid gland, heat
intolerance, exhaustion, nervousness, weakness, diarrhea,
infertility, and excessive perspiration, thirst, and, yes,
excessive hunger.

If I Have Hyperthyroidism How Can I Control My Appetite?

Most of us struggle with appetite regulation even when our
thyroids produce the right amount of hormones – imagine
trying to control urges to eat when your body thinks it needs

Check out the list below of ten strategies to regulate
appetite, as tested by experts from around the world.

Chew Your Food – A Lot

When we were young and carefree and didn't care about
calories or weight gain our parents told us to chew our food.

Now that we're adults and worried about  eating too much or
feeling hungry all the time because of hyperthyroidism our
doctors could tell us the same thing: chew your food!

In 2011, Henk Smit and colleagues with the Functional Food
Centre at Oxford Brookes University in Oxford, UK  gave
over-eaters a lot to chew over.  Subjects chewed 25 chews
per mouthful versus 10, and results showed that “higher
chewing counts reduced food intake despite increasing
chewing speed, and despite doubling meal duration.”  

If you've been struggling with feeling hungry all the time,
next time you eat try counting up to 25 chews per bite.  It
could be that that snack doesn't seem so worth it any more.  

Ignore what the Fads Say, Stick to Three Meals a Day

One of the new ideas for appetite management you may have
heard about in the gym or at the grocery store is to eat
smaller meals more frequently.  Researchers in Colorado and
Japan, however, find that this may not be true for people
who struggle with controlling their appetites: to the contrary,
when it comes to appetite and feelings of hunger, it seems
that more is more.

In 2012, researchers from Denver, Colorado and Tokyo,
Japan, including Edward Melanson with the Center for
Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado,  tested the
increasingly popular idea that eating smaller meals more
frequently is a healthy way to manage weight and appetite.  

Fifteen subjects ate either three or six meals each day.  
Results showed that while the number of meals consumed
showed “no significant effect” on fat oxidation, the subjects’
“desire to eat” was increased when eating 6 meals a day
instead of 3.  

The team stuck a fork into a common myth about losing
weight and appetite.  You've heard that you should eat a lot
of small meals during the day to lose weight.  Not so, says
the research.  The team concluded that increasing meal
frequency “may increase hunger and the desire to eat.”

If you are already working on treating your hyperthyroidism
but can't seem to stay away from the fridge in the meantime,
try sticking to the good ole three meals a day for a while.  

Eat Protein For A Full Feeling

Many of us have caught the buzz about low-carb diets,
dutifully trading bagels for eggs at breakfast so that our
body can burn more fat.  

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have
found that one of the reasons that high protein diets help
manage weight is that they keep us feeling satisfied.   

In 2004, Frank Hu with the Department of Nutrition at the
Harvard School of Public Health and a colleague  analyzed
how high protein diets affect "satiety, body weight, and fat

They found that "a higher protein intake increases […]
satiety compared to diets of lower protein content."   They
conclude that "it may be beneficial to partially replace refined
carbohydrate with protein sources that are low in saturated

There's protein and then there's protein:  there's bean salad
and then there's five strips of bacon.  If you're worried
about gaining weight but want to eat more protein to reduce
cravings for food, seek out low-fat options such as beans,
tofu, and reduced-fat dairy products.

Eat a Big Breakfast -- and Carbs are Allowed

While all of this low-carb hype may be on to something (see
above), in some cases low-carb is better than NO carb.  
Researchers from Israel have found that when it comes to
judging how breakfast affects how hungry we feel later, the
more carbs  (and protein) the better.

In 2012, Daniela Jakubowicz with the Diabetes Unit at
Wolfson Medical Center in Tel Aviv and other specialists in
Israel  compared different types of breakfasts and their
impact on weight gain and hunger.  193 obese non-diabetic
adult men and women ate either a low carbohydrate
breakfast or a high carbohydrate and protein breakfast, and
were analyzed after 16 weeks and then at 32 weeks as a
follow up.  

Results showed that at 16 weeks both groups "exhibited
similar weight loss," but that after the special diets had
ceased the low carbohydrate group regained weight whereas
the high carbohydrate and protein group lost even more

Additionally, people eating the high carbohydrate/protein
breakfast reported that "satiety was significantly improved,"
and their "hunger and craving scores [were] significantly

The report concluded that "a high carbohydrate and protein
breakfast may prevent weight regain by reducing diet-
induced compensatory changes in hunger, cravings and
ghrelin suppression."

Just as we have our options for what kinds of proteins to eat
(see above), eating a "high carbohydrate and protein diet"
can mean different things to different people.  Whole grain
bread, for example, would be a healthier carb option than
refined white bread and, tragically, oatmeal is probably a
better choice than a doughnut.  

Pancreatic Polypeptide --- the Magic Appetite Manager?

Ever heard of pancreatic polypeptide? Not many people know
about it but this compund could be the ultimate thyroid
control secret and the key to managing your appetite once
and for all.

Pancreatic Polypeptide (we'll call it PP for the sack of sanity)
is a hormone that is secreted by the pancreas as a response
to the ingestion of food.   Research from the U.K. has found
that added amounts of PP could reduce the appetite.

In 2003, Dr. Stephen Bloom with the Imperial College at
Hammersmith Campus in London, along with colleagues,   
looked into how the gut hormone pancreatic polypeptide
(PP) affected appetite and food intake.  

Ten healthy volunteers were given intravenous infusions of
PP.  These infusions “reduced appetite and decreased the
energy intake at a buffet lunch two hours post-infusion.”  
Furthermore, these infusions reduced “cumulative 24-hour
energy intake” by about 25.3%.  The team concludes that
“PP causes a sustained decrease in both appetite and food

PP does not yet come in an easily acceptable, approved pill.  
However, it is encouraging to know that people out there are
working on ways to quell our rampant appetites, whether
they're thyroid-related or not.

Try Artichokes to Pacify a Raging Appetite

Artichokes are rich in a fermentable fiber called inulin. Inulin,
once it enters your intestines, is fermented, and releases
acetate, which scientists have found acts to turn off your
appetite by about 11%. (Read more about how
turn off your appetite.)

Underactive Thyroid -Causes and Top 10 Natural Remedies
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Chewing your food at least 25 times can
help control thyroid-induced hunger.