April 28, 2017
Hi guys! I’m back to talk to you all again! Yay! This time, I wanted to talk about thyroid issues. EVEN if you don’t have or at least think you don’t have any symptoms…
What the heck is a thyroid gland? Your thyroid, one of the largest endocrine glands (but super tiny in size), greatly influences almost every cell in your body. Aside from regulating your metabolism and weight by controlling the fat-burning process, thyroid hormones are also required for the growth and development in children and in pretty much every physiological process in your body. When your thyroid levels are wacked, so are you. Too much or too little hormone secretion in this gland can be big trouble for your overall health and well-being. Thyroid issues are among one of the most under-diagnosed health problems among people living in the US. At least 30 million Americans have a thyroid disorder and half—15 million—are silent sufferers who are un-diagnosed, according to The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. Women are 10 times more likely to have thyroid trouble, and women over 35…30% increase on top of that!
So this is why it’s pretty friggin important that you learn how your thyroid works and what can cause it to go wacky on you! I also wanted to chat a little about my experiences in regulating my thyroid. Its no secret that, for me personally, its been a special kind of hell figuring things out. I will say that I am very humbled by all of my experiences and so grateful to be able to share them with all of you in the hopes that I can help at least one other person out there!
Symptoms… (just to name a few!)
Hypo-thyroid (underactive) *Hashimotos is a severe auto-immune disease where your body attacks the thyroid
- Extreme exhaustion, even after sleeping 7-8 hours
- Weight gain or inability to lose weight
- Mood swings, anxiety, depression
- Hormonal imbalances; PMS, irregular periods, infertility, low sex drive
- brain fog, poor memory or concentration
- Dry skin, brittle nails, excessive hair loss
- Cold hands & feet when others are not
- Muscle pain, joint pain, tendinitis
Hyper-thyroid (overactive) *Graves disease is where there is overacitivity in the entire thyroid gland
- Heat intolerance
- Frequent bowel movements
- Weight loss
- Increased sweating
- Increased appetite
Sounds friggin lovely doesn’t it?? UUUUH, NO! I have pretty much ALL of these minus the hair loss (knock on wood!) There was a time that I had such uncontrollable mood swings that it greatly effected my personal relationships. Not to mention getting fatter for no reason with proper diet & exercise or the horrible…I mean BAD cystic acne that I had. And come on, when you can’t poo, you’re not in the best mood either right?? Lol.
It’s pretty common for Doctors to mistake thyroid dysfunction for a psychiatric disease. I was told by more than 5 Doctors that I was too young to have thyroid/hormone problems. They either said it was all in my head & prescribed anti-depressants or they said it was severe Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). The main problem was that they did test my TSH levels and in an otherwise healthy female, they fell within the “normal” range. There’s a lot of debate about these normal ranges guys. Bottom line, YOU know your body, don’t let someone tell you it’s in your head! I was a young 19 yr old kid at the time that didn’t know I could really question a professional that is supposed to know everything about my health. (EYE-fricken-ROLL) siiiigh, if the now me could go back & advise the young me….lol, but I digress…
In order to properly understand what your thyroid is doing, you must get an in depth blood analysis. I really stand by and like the Spectracell hormone panel testing. (they also offer a variety of nutrient testing as well as other disease prevention tests) Most Doctors don’t use this testing because most insurances will not cover them. However, my Doctor wrote them a letter explaining why the test was necessary and they approved it at a $40 co-pay. Now that I do not have insurance, my out of pocket cost for the entire hormone panel is still a low $120, compared to another local lab testing for dhea, estradial, t3, t4, free t3/t4 etc which cost me THOUSANDS! (had to fight the insurance to cover those costs too! They will claim you are doing these tests for infertility, you must appeal and write a letter stating it is related to your thyroid and send the Doctor records to back it up)
There’s always a root cause and if you can figure that out, you can start to heal yourself. In my case, I had an unexpected pregnancy that I didn’t know about until I became very, very sick. At first, they thought it was just how I was responding to being pregnant. It wasn’t until months later when I miscarried that we determined the fetus was not healthy. Thyroid disease is greatly associated with poor outcomes in pregnancy. I believe the dramatic shift in hormones caused the Hashimotos disease to come on full force when before, I always had it genetically but it wasn’t effecting me as much.
It is best to detect thyroid problems early before they can trigger other medical problems. The thyroid hormone affects virtually all metabolic processes; too much speeds up metabolism, while too little slows it down….wreaking absolute havoc on your body and how you feel.
Why not be proactive? Are thyroid problems something that runs in your family? They are genetic after all. Are you a women in her early 30s? Do you have unexplained symptoms? Your Doctor tells you that it’s in your head? 1) Get a new Doctor & 2) Get the proper testing done to know for sure. Thyroid disfunction is much easier to treat early on.
There are many treatments out there. I was not fortunate with the medical care I had accessible to me to catch it early enough-although I did present each Doctor with all of my symptoms. If you read my other blog, you know that I have been the literal guinea pig & tried them all! NOW a days I am happy to report that my thyroid is more controlled than it has been before. I found that personally I do not respond well to natural thyroid treatments but through my research and learning about holistic nutrition, I am actively trying to change that. After much trial and error with synthetics, I have found that the combination of Synthroid & Cytomel work well in stabilizing my thyroid. I also take DHEA & Progesterone (this will vary for everyone as they are simply what I am hormonally deficient in). In addition to that, lifestyle choices are fundamental in treating your thyroid imbalances. These lifestyle choices include: diet, physical activity, & supplementation.
As with most auto-immune diseases, it’s very helpful to eliminate foods that lead to inflammation. Foods that you are not tolerant to.
Address underlying food sensitivities. Just like the body’s attack on the thyroid with Hashimoto’s, your body will also see inflammatory foods as an invader and will increase your autoimmune response. (Dairy, gluten, sugar, tap water)
Go 100% gluten-free. The molecular composition of thyroid tissue is almost identical to that of gluten. So for those with Hashimoto’s, it’s a case of mistaken identity. Eating gluten can increase the autoimmune attack on your thyroid. On that note, just because something is gluten free, doesn’t make it healthy, be diligent & check those labels for other auto-immune triggers (Preservatives, chemincal additives, GMOs etc. Fresh & organic is the best choice).
Greatly reduce caffeine and sugar. including refined carbs like flour, which the body treats like sugar. Make grain-based carbs less important, but eat non-starchy vegetables to your lil hearts desire!
Avoid foods that can interfere with thyroid function. (called Goitrogens) They include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, rutabaga, turnips, millet, spinach, strawberries, peaches, watercress, peanuts, radishes, and soybeans. Does it mean that you can never eat these foods? No, because cooking inactivates goitrogenic compounds and eating them in moderation isn’t going to be a deal-breaker.
Get more protein! Protein transports thyroid hormone to all your tissues and enjoying it at each meal can help normalize thyroid function. Proteins include nuts and nut butters; quinoa; hormone- and antibiotic-free animal products (I.E. organic, grass-fed meats, eggs, and sustainable-farmed fish); and legumes.
Embrace the fat! Healthy Fat is your friend. Cholesterol is the precursor to your hormone pathways. If you’re getting insufficient fat and cholesterol, you could be causing more of a hormonal imbalance including thyroid hormones! Natural, healthy fats include olive oil; ghee; avocados; flax seeds; fish; nuts and nut butters; hormone- and antibiotic-free yogurt & cottage cheese.
Check your gut. Over 20% of thyroid function depends on a the proper amount of healthy gut bacteria, so it’s best to supplement with probiotics.
Supp-up! While nutritional deficiencies may not be the cause of hypothyroidism, not having enough of these micro-nutrients and minerals can aggravate symptoms: vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, zinc, copper, vitamin A, the B vitamins, and iodine.
Adaptogen Supplements – Can lower cortisol levels and improve thyroid function like Ashwagandha and Tulsi.
- It’s commonly believed that hypothyroidism is due to insufficient iodine, but this isn’t true. Taking supplemental iodine is like throwing gas on a fire, so instead of iodine supplements & iodized salt, choose primary sources of iodine: sea vegetables, seafood, eggs, asparagus, lima beans, mushrooms, spinach, sesame seeds, summer squash, Swiss chard, and garlic.
- Optimal vitamin D levels are between 50-80 ng/mL; anything below 32 contributes to hormone pathway disruption.
- Omega-3s, found in fish, grassfed animal products, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are the building blocks for hormones that control immune function and cell growth, are critical to thyroid function, and improve the ability to respond to thyroid hormones.
Choose glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and is one of the soldiers in fighting Hashimoto’s. It can boost your body’s ability to regulate the immune system, dampen autoimmune flare-ups, and protect and heal thyroid tissue.
(While few foods contain glutathione, there are foods that help the body produce glutathione: asparagus, broccoli, peaches, avocado, spinach, garlic, squash, grapefruit, and raw eggs.)
Along with carefully considering what you’re putting in your mouth, be careful not to let yourself over-stress. Yea, yea…I know! Easier said then done! It’s probably my most difficult task personally. The thyroid is a super sensitive gland and is extremely reactive to your stress response. Try to find balance. Do things that relax you. While yoga helps a ton of people, it’s not for me. Instead I will turn my phone off, take a hot shower, or find something that I do find relaxing.
Thyroid dysfunction is always going to be in my life, but it’s not going to run it. By making healthy lifestyle choices & specialized dietary requirements, I manage the symptoms of my thyroid disease. In the coming year, as I learn more and more about holistic health, I plan to reverse all of the thyroid dysfunction. I also plan to document the journey! Join me in the adventure & share your feedback!
As always, thanks for taking some time with me today and I look forward to seeing you in my next article!
Brianna, Holistic Healing Fit Club