There are lots of things that affect our health everyday in both positive and negative ways. It is important when you have thyroid problems to pay particular attention to your health and well being so that you can remain healthy. Sometimes it seems kind of, well, crappy that those of us with thyroid issues and particularly autoimmune thyroid issues have to be extra careful with our very sensitive selves. You know, it is what it is right? All we can do is carry on paying extra attention to the following things.
Chronic Stress: Living in a constant or almost constant state of stress will make your pituitary gland tired so it can’t do its job which is to signal the thyroid to release enough TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) to stimulate the thyroid to do its job. Your thyroid could be working just fine but if it is not being told what to do by the pituitary gland because of all the stress you encounter day in and day out it will look like your thyroid is malfunctioning.
What is chronic stress?
Things like being super busy all the time, no time for rest or fun. No exercise to relieve that stress. Chronic stress is consuming a Standard American Diet high is processed foods, fast foods, seed oils and sugar. Consuming high amounts of caffeine on a daily basis can wear out your adrenal glands leading to adrenal fatigue (lots of things can do this, I am just pointing my finger at caffeine which is one way to wear out your adrenals).
Having too much cortisol in your system keeps the body from converting all the T4 it needs to into T3 which is what your body uses. It also results in your cells keeping the thyroid hormones from entering when they need to.
What causes your body to make too much cortisol besides chronic stress?
Things like out of balance blood sugar and adrenal fatigue are the two big ones. They really go hand in hand because if your blood sugar is constantly out of balance your adrenals are going to be worn out. The adrenal glands play a major role in regulating your blood sugar. Not only is cortisol released when you are under physical and emotional stress but also when your blood sugar is low and it is not supported by a hormone called glucagon. Glucagon’s job is to keep your blood sugar stable between meals. If you have eaten a high sugar meal or a treat high in sugar, glucagon will be busy helping manage your blood sugar crash. Cortisol will have to step in to help stabilize your blood sugar levels. Cortisol also helps manage inflammation and sugar is a contributor to inflammation. If your body can’t keep your blood sugar stable, your digestive system won’t work the way it should and your immune system will be less efficient and your adrenal glands will be tired. Your adrenals glands also play a major role in hormone balance but that is a huge subject in and of itself!
Chronic Inflammation and infections are another cause of poor thyroid health. Inflammation and infections cause damage to the cell membranes which have their part in converting T4 to T3. When you have chronic inflammation (which you will have if you have blood sugar regulation issues) you also have free radical damage to your cell walls. When the cell walls are damaged the conversion of T4 to T3 doesn’t happen the way it is supposed to.
Your Digestive Health. Maintaining stable blood sugar is also important for keeping your gut healthy as well. Keeping your thyroid healthy depends on a healthy gut. You also need a healthy balance of gut flora or bacteria. Having the right kinds and amounts of bacteria in your gut play a crucial role in thyroid health. Some bacteria are responsible for converting T4 to T3. When you have more bad bacteria than good, your thyroid may not function well.
If you are not making enough stomach acid (a common problem in hypothyroidism), food will sit in your stomach not digesting. It will become rancid and eventually will be forced into the upper part of your small intestine when you consume your next meal. The problem with this is that what is leaving your stomach will be partially undigested and will not be quite acidic enough to trigger the rest of the digestive process. Fats won’t be emulsified and nutrients won’t be absorbed. This mess of partially undigested food will move slowly through the gastrointestinal tract (GI Tract) causing inflammation and eventually leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability). When fats are not emulsified or digested properly your body cannot use them and they end up leaving your body in your stool. Have you ever noticed greasy or shiny stools before? This is a sign you are not digesting your fats because that greasy stool is undigested fats leaving your body. Your thyroid hormones are fat soluble hormones and need fats to do their job. Your cells need fats to remain healthy enough to accept those hormones when they are being delivered.
Fatty Acid Deficiency. We talked a bit about this earlier (greasy stools). All of your hormone production depends on your ability to digest those healthy fats from your diet. Essential Fatty Acids help your cells communicate. They have nutrients your hormones need and your brain depends on them to function properly. If you consume a large amount of processed foods there is a good chance you may be deficient in fatty acids even if your digestion is working well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you will need to supplement with Bile Salts for the rest of your life to help your body digest the fat you consume. If your body isn’t using the fats you are eating then your gallbladder can become sluggish and your liver won’t be able to detox things like your hormones the way it should. It is said that the ratio of Omega 6 Fatty Acids to Omega 3 Fatty Acids should be around 3:1. If you eat the Standard American Diet of processed foods, fast foods and seed oils you are probably getting much more than the 3:1 ratio. It is more like 25:1. This in and of itself can be inflammatory to your whole body. Taking an Essential Fatty Acid supplement like a high quality fish oil can help you as long as you are digesting it.
We all have to start somewhere on our path to health and wellness. Nutritional therapy is a great way to get a kick start to your health or a reboot in to wellness. Contact me for help if you think you might need it. Together we can make a plan of success to get you out of the woods and clear about your own health!
Comment below and tell me what you have done in the last year to make positive changes in your health or something that you really need to work on. I can't wait to hear from you.