The thyroid gland has been referred to as the body’s engine or metabolic “spark plug,” as well as its thermostat. That’s because it plays a key role in both energy metabolism and temperature regulation. It’s also a key player in sex hormone metabolism, cholesterol regulation, heart rate, bone health, fertility, and cognitive function. In fact, every cell in the body has receptors that respond to thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland becomes imbalanced, thyroid hormone production gets thrown off and things can go awry causing seemingly unrelated symptoms to manifest throughout the body.

Depending on how much or how little thyroid hormone a person’s thyroid makes, they may experience symptoms on opposite ends of the spectrum, such as restlessness vs. fatigue or weight gain vs. weight loss. Symptoms of an underactive or hypothyroid may include sluggishness, weight gain, depression, constipation, dry skin, and hair loss, among others. Symptoms of an overactive or hyperthyroid include anxiety, insomnia, unintentional weight loss, and heart palpitations, to name a few.

Hypothyroidism can lead to weight gain because it can slow down a person’s metabolism. Therefore, a person with hypothyroidism should aim for a healthful diet to gain. Making dietary changes can have an impact on how a person feels and may help improve their quality of life.