GAZETTE columnist, former Gladiators star Panther (Helen O'Reilly), offers her top tips on staying fit and getting the most out of your trip to the gym. This week, she answers a reader's question on thyroid problems and explains why it is important for everyone to arrange to have a blood test once a year.

Dear Panther, I have been feeling unwell lately, I don't seem to have any energy and although I am a member of a gym I am not losing any weight.

My friend, Michelle, mentioned that I could have a thyroid problem. What is a thyroid and can it be treated? I am 38 years of age and know I shouldn't feel like this. I had back pain last week which caused me to go to the doctors. Please help me.


Helen from Cowley

Hi Helen, You certainly have some of the symptoms of an under-active thyroid which can include some or all of the following:

Weakness Fatigue

Cold intolerance


Weight gain


Joint and muscle pain

Brittle fingernails and thinning hair

These symptoms, without treatment, can escalate to:

Slow speech

Dry, flaky skin

Puffy face, hands and feet

Abnormal menstrual cycle

The thyroid stores and releases hormones that affect your metabolism. It is a butterfly shaped gland in your throat and can change your metabolism and physical appearance.

The thyroid gland regulates the amount of body fat you carry by manipulating how rapidly your foods are utilized for basic bodily maintenance and functions.

Thyroid problems can run in the family and can: 

Increase with age

Affect women more than men [

Be increased significantly for smokers

The first suggestion I would make is to visit your doctor and explain your symptoms and ask for a blood test.

We should all try to get a blood test each year as these can determine so many health issues.

A healthy diet promotes a healthy thyroid. The thyroid gland relies heavily on a host of supporting nutrients to produce the hormones needed to ensure that metabolism functions correctly.

Without these nutrients our ability to metabolize food may slow down.

There are lots of supplements you can take to assist you and the most important are:

Selenium (a trace mineral)

Iodine (found in shellfish and iodized salts).

Guggul (a supplement made from the sap of an Indian tree).

Irish Moss (a vegetarian supplement).

Tyrosine (amino acid).

Tyrosine and Iodine work together to make the thyroid hormone.


1 The less thyroid supporting nutrients we have the less thyroid hormone (T3+T4) we produce.

2 The less thyroid hormone we produce, the less efficient our metabolic process becomes.

3 The less effective our metabolic process becomes, the less energy we produce.

4 The less energy we produce, the more prone we are to weight gain and fatigue.

So, Helen, first stop the doctors for those all-important blood tests and if your thyroid is playing up you may be prescribed medication to correct it and you will be in good health in no time at all.

Hope this helps and the best of luck.

Helen O'Reilly