Is It My Thyroid?
The thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the center of your neck, is the master gland of metabolism. How well your thyroid is functioning is inter-related with every system in your body. If your thyroid is not running optimally, then neither are you.
I do want to explain why just checking TSH isn’t enough because this oversight is leaving many, MANY women suffering needlessly and it kinda makes me mad. The thyroid doesn’t work alone. It’s part a beautifully intricate system. . .
The brain senses the need for more thyroid hormone so the pituitary sends a signal (TSH) to the thyroid ordering more thyroid hormone. The thyroid then produces the hormones T4 and T3 but those are not the forms the body needs. So T4 & T3 then go to the liver to be converted into Free T4 and Free T3. These are the forms that can be used by every cell in your body.
Do you see that TSH only tells us that the “order was placed” for more thyroid? It does not check to see if the order was received (T4 & T3) much less that it was delivered (Free T4 and Free T3).
TSH is not a measure of thyroid function, it measures pituitary function.
To adequately evaluate thyroid function, you need a full thyroid panel which includes: TSH, T4, T3, Free T4, Free T3, and the antibodies TPO and TbAb to check for Hashimoto’s since most low thyroid is caused by this.
Do I Have A Thyroid Issue?
In functional nutrition we have a saying, “Test, Don’t Guess. If you’re in perimenopause or already in menopause, it’s a good idea to do a full thyroid panel as part of your yearly wellness exam. If you’re experiencing symptoms such as brain fog, concentration problems, difficulty losing weight, fatigue, inward trembling, nervousness, insomnia or any other chronic symptom, it’s best to get it checked out sooner.
Low Carb Diet:
Blood sugar has a huge impact on both hormone balance and thyroid health so adopting a lower carb diet is essential. Avoid grains, high sugar fruits like bananas, pineapple, mangos, etc. and any food you know you are sensitive to.
The thyroid is especially sensitive to toxins so avoiding chemicals in your food is very important. Look for whole, unprocessed foods like fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh eggs, fresh meats, etc. Avoid foods in a can or a box or any product with more than about 5 ingredients.
Visit http://ewg.org and look up their Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists. These are the foods with the least and the most chemicals on them. Buy organic from the Dirty Dozen list (or avoid the food). Buying conventional produce from the Clean 15 is OK.
Consider removing gluten from your diet. Gluten has been shown to increase intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”) in 100% of the people tested which is one cause of autoimmune conditions. If you already know you have thyroid issues, especially Hashimoto’s, then you certainly need to remove gluten. The gluten molecule looks very much like the thyroid molecule so eating gluten increases the immune system’s attack on the thyroid.
Goitrogens are a substance in foods like broccoli, cabbage, and turnips that can interfere with thyroid function potentially causing goiters. It’s best to minimize these foods if you know you have a thyroid issue. However since they are also great detoxifiers and highly nutritious, we don’t want to completely eliminate them. Eating them lightly steamed every once in a while is fine.
Focus on foods that contain Vitamins A & D, zinc, selenium and DHA/EPA since all support thyroid function.
What Healthy Habits Help Hormones & Thyroid?
Stress impacts every single system in the body and is considered the leading contributor to chronic illness. Stress comes from many sources. It can be mental/emotional like relationship issues or a bad job, it can be “happy stress” like a new home, marriage or baby, or it can by physical stress like chronic infections, blood sugar imbalances, spinal misalignment or blocks in the energy meridians.
Go To Bed!
Your body does most of its repair work while you sleep. Begin going to bed 15 minutes earlier every few days until you are in bed no later than 10pm and aim for at least 8 hours sleep.
Exercise as Tolerated:
Exercise can be tough when you’re dealing with fatigue. But at the same time it can help resolve that fatigue. Studies have shown that the effect of exercise is cumulative so take a 5 or 10 minute walk several times a day.
Taking time to be truly grateful for things improves mood and reduces stress. Give it a try! Take just 30 seconds before you eat to truly feel gratitude for the food in front of you. Not only will it lower your stress level and help you sleep, it also improves digestion.
Reach out with questions or your experience with thyroid issues, I'd love to hear from you!