Q: My wife gained 25 pounds. She blames her thyroid. I say she just needs to eat less and move more. Who’s right?
Gaining weight is rarely as simple as eating too much, and losing weight is rarely as simple as eating less. Rather than playing the blame game or who’s right, it’s more important to identify the root causes and treat them, otherwise the biggest loser is your wife’s health.
By age 50, around 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will have low thyroid (hypothyroidism). Why are women more likely than men to have thyroid issues? Testosterone. Yes, really. The ovaries make around 90 percent of what a woman’s body needs to function well; the adrenal glands make the rest. Testosterone helps drive thyroid function to burn glucose to fuel the body, and also affects libido, mood, weight, memory and other metabolic processes. Many commonly prescribed drugs like oral contraceptives and antidepressants lower women’s testosterone levels, slowing the metabolism. Weight begins to slowly creep up, especially around the middle. Having children and aging also contribute to weight gain, especially as the ovaries begin the process of shutting down (10-15 years before menopause).
Symptoms like weight gain, extreme fatigue, sore muscles, aching joints, hair loss and cold intolerance gain scream hypothyroid. Most doctors miss the diagnosis because they rely solely on the standard TSH blood screen test.
Highly processed convenience foods, couch surfing as exercise and daily servings of stress are all big contributors to weight problems and disease. Highly processed foods create rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar levels, which programs the body to want more food, more often to try to keep blood sugar balanced.
Check for underlying health issues like thyroid first. A medically managed weight loss plan is the best way to lose weight and keep it off.