Welcome to episode 31 and Happy New Year.
I spend a lot of time between Christmas and New Years reflecting on my year and always being really hard on myself for not accomplishing more than I did.
I had a great year, I have good relationships with people in my life that matter and while they are not perfect and not always great, I am working hard to show up better in those relationships. So here is to a new year full of health and great possibilities in all areas of my life and in yours too.
I am really grateful you are here.
I teach a class called The RESTART Program as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and it falls right in line with the subject matter of today’s podcast. I am discussing managing blood sugar in relation to thyroid health. They go hand in hand and one out of balance puts the other out of balance.
My class is all about managing blood sugar and about Restarting with a new outlook on food and nutrition. It is a real food sugar detox where you learn how to eat real food to manage your blood sugar, you get nutrition education and you get support from me and from the members of the class. We have a private facebook group and we meet each week for five weeks with the detox starting on the second week.
There are no shakes, no pills- just real food. This class has been life changing for so many people and I really love teaching it. Learn more at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart
Susan O. “RESTART® gave me the tools to reverse pain, lose weight, increase energy, and best of all, the common sense of how we should be living and eating. Thank you for helping me make a difference in my life and my family.”
Tina T. “I came to the RESTART® class just wanting to learn how sugar affects the body. I left class feeling better and with a ton of knowledge. It’s a lifestyle change I can do. Stick with this class, you won’t regret it.”
Melissa M. “I now understand what I need to heal myself and my family. This class changed my attitude towards food and health. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired all the time, I highly recommend taking RESTART®.”
You can register for class now at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart Cost is $147 for the entire five weeks and will be taught via zoom which is free for you to download.
Okay- on to the show.
Why is maintaining healthy blood sugar levels or keeping your blood sugar balanced so important for your thyroid?
Most if not every organ and tissue in the body needs glucose or sugar. It is what helps us make energy in our cells so if you are lacking in sugar your cells are not getting the materials they need to produce energy so your cells will not have energy, your organs won’t and you definitely won’t have any energy.
When you have a low level of glucose, your blood sugar is low and your thyroid won’t be getting enough energy or enough sugar to turn into energy to function. It will be sluggish and not able to produce enough hormone for you.
When you have higher levels of glucose in the blood or high blood sugar on a regular basis, you end up with something called insulin resistance. Say you eat a meal that is pretty carbohydrate heavy of maybe pasta or bread or pizza and that gets broken down into little particles of sugar. It will cause your blood sugar to rise and your body says “I’ve got to get rid of this sugar in my blood. There is too much in here and it can damage my blood vessels. So it releases the hormone insulin which is supposed to lower blood sugar in the blood by bringing the sugar to the cells so it can use it for energy production.
The problem when we eat all that refined carb garbage is that you are eating too many carbs for your body to handle so you are dealing with this higher blood sugar issue with the quick rise of insulin to help manage the levels of sugar in your body. It’s not good and your body- your cells eventually get tired of receiving the sugar from insulin so they become resistant to it. They are like- “No more. My cell door is closed. Go away!”
So you have this sugar with no where to go because the cells don’t want it. It is just floating around in your blood stream. But it has to go somewhere so what does your body do?
It stores it in your fat tissue or creates fat tissue to store it.
Now your thyroid is looking for nutrients but the cells are resistant because of the insulin resistance. The cells are refusing the sugar being transported by insulin. No fuel for the thyroid means it isn’t going to produce enough hormone for you and you feel sluggish. You might have the TSH of 5 or 7 or 9 that your doctor says is fine when you know it isn’t fine because you feel like crap.
Now keep in mind this is a very simplified explanation of things because I want you to be able to get the idea.
When your blood sugar is high either from insulin resistance or because you are constantly eating all day long or because you eat the Standard American Diet then you probably are experiencing some inflammation. We are all bio individuals- where you experience inflammation may be different than someone else. If you have inflammation in your thyroid due to autoimmune attacks or because of something else- your thyroid cells are not able to take in the nutrients they need to function well.
Two important nutrients are iodine and the amino acid tyrosine. If you have an inflamed thyroid, that doesn’t mean you should supplement with these two nutrients. That is a band-aid. The root cause might be the mismanaged blood sugar and you should be able to get both of those nutrients from your diet.
Missing these nutrients through mismanaged blood sugar is one way you can get to an autoimmune diagnosis.
Here is the kicker. People with high blood sugar levels in their blood and insulin resistance tend to have low thyroid hormone production which will increase your TSH. When TSH goes on the rise it can make insulin resistance worse.
I think I can attest to this- when I experimentally went off my medication I felt and actually still am pretty puffy. I ate three cheesecake flavored M&M’s last Saturday and a couple hours later had a small patch of psoriasis on my palm and the back or nape of my neck is itchy. It can mess you up. It is a vicious cycle.
When you have a high TSH because your body can’t make enough on it’s own, as your blood sugar lowers the cells in your thyroid are affected. We need the proper amount of T3 and T4 to maintain healthy blood sugar. The more out of control our blood sugar gets, the more our thyroid can’t function properly. It is sluggish and that contributes to insulin resistance even more.
The best way to fix this is to fix your blood sugar balance. To keep it balanced and reset things. So obviously diet is a huge factor and that is what the RESTART Program is all about. There are other things you can do as well.
Sleep is huge. One night of bad sleep, loss of sleep can create insulin resistance in a healthy person so for those of us suffering from insomnia, you are in that vicious cycle again and so having diet dialed in will be really important. We repair our body at night and cortisol is supposed to be low at night- if you are not sleeping both of those things are going to be messed up. No repairing of tissues, and cortisol can be high which means insulin resistance and fat storage/creation.
Exercise. When your muscles are worked or exercised and trained, if you will, they become insulin sensitive which will lower your insulin resistance. For many of us with autoimmune disease we need to go slow and I can’t recommend enough the Get Autoimmune Strong Program. Please go to the show notes and use my link to check it out so I get credit for sending you. It helps me pay for the podcast.
A lot of experts will recommend burst training where you do something intense for 30-60 seconds and then rest for a few minutes and do it again. I am not in the place where I can handle that so if you get exhausted from working out- autoimmune strong is for you.
You can also use a standing desk instead of sitting desk. I got one on Amazon that sits on top of my cheap Craigslist desk for about $80-$90. It was a good investment.
Manage stress. This along with sleep is sometimes more important than eating well. That’s not to say you shouldn’t eat well but these other two are really really important. When you are experiencing a lot of stress- mental/emotional or physical, your cortisol levels go up. When the cortisol is high, your liver will create sugar to increase your insulin and again we have a cycle we don’t want to be in.
Cortisol is in our body to give us a burst of energy to escape danger. Our primitive mind doesn’t know the difference between actual physical danger and what goes on in our mind, or even between a close call on the road and running from a bear. It is all the same to our body. So chronic stress- not good for our body fat and our blood sugar. Unfortunately, our body prefers to get its energy or sugar from our muscle rather than our fat so we end up losing muscle and getting fatter in this scenario of unbalanced blood sugar.
So we have this high blood sugar because of high cortisol and we have resistant cells, they don’t want any more sugar so more and more sugar gets released either through you eating something because your body has told you you need more energy so you crave some kind of sugary carb food or because you are stressed so the blood sugar levels are higher and higher- your body thinks there isn’t enough sugar because the cells are refusing it and so the levels get higher and higher in the blood and that gets shuttled to fat because it needs to get rid of it.
When you eat matters and what you eat at night matters too. When you eat before bed, if it is a carb heavy food like a cookie or a bowl of cereal, your blood sugar will be high when you go to bed and you will have a crash around 1-3 am when cortisol is released to raise your blood sugar. Ever wake with a start or have heart palpitations at that time and then you can’t get back to sleep? That is a blood sugar issue. Then you pile on lack of sleep because you couldn’t fall asleep and you have more insulin resistance.
Eating protein at breakfast or your first meal is important to keeping your blood sugar stable all day long. If you aren’t eating protein and you have insulin resistance and issues with cortisol, your body will take what it needs in the form of sugar from your muscles- creating less muscle and more fat.
You may need to eat every 3 hours for a short time to get your blood sugar balanced, but don’t eat a bunch of carbs every 3 hours. Eat some healthy fats and proteins with veggies to keep your blood sugar stable and then eventually you will be able to make it from meal to meal without needing a snack. Eating all the time, snacking all the time will keep your insulin levels high all day long which means more fat storage, inflammation and stress on the body and on your thyroid.
All this stress affects your pituitary gland and TSH is secreted from the pituitary gland. When your adrenals and cortisol are working hard to manage stress and blood sugar, there isn’t much room for your thyroid to be helped out so it takes a hit and becomes sluggish or you develop autoimmune disease. Cortisol inhibits production of T4 and of TSH (will show up as a high TSH on a lab).
So we have a thyroid that isn’t working. This causes a decrease in the rate the cells take in sugar (glucose). The receptors on your cells don’t know what is going on so they can’t take in the right amount of anything. Your blood sugar is out of whack and T4 and T3 are not being secreted from the thyroid like they are supposed to either. You are dealing with inflammation because insulin overproduction will also produce inflammation.
You are dealing with a blood sugar rollercoaster here. Sometimes too high blood sugar due to a meal you ate or stress or whatever and then low blood sugar because of the rise in insulin, too much insulin which causes a crash- when you get really tired after a meal or after a bunch of sugar. Cortisol gets involved to try to fix the problem and it starts all over again. Not good. You crave the sugar to get you out of the crash.
The solution here- besides taking my class is to heal your gut, remove some of these foods that are causing your blood sugar to be so out of control. Figure out if certain foods are causing you inflammation, get some good nutrients in to your diet. Get some omega 3 fats, fiber and protein in your diet. You might need chromium, magnesium, cinnamon can be really helpful in lowering your blood sugar and testing your blood sugar. I am working on getting someone on the podcast who is an expert in finding your carb tolerance. It involves pricking your finger- I’m not so good at that. I have to have my daughter do it for me so I don’t mess with it- I really need to do that though. I know there are certain foods that really spike my blood sugar and the thing of that is- it can be different for everyone. You might really react to an apple whereas someone else won’t be affected at all. I’ll work on getting a good guest to help us figure that out.
Ideally you want your blood sugar levels to stay somewhere in between 80-100. This would be on a blood glucose monitor. You can get a good picture of your blood sugar from a Hemoglobin A1C test. This will measure the sticky proteins of sugar that are attached to your red blood cells. This causes your red blood cells to become brittle and cause damage to your blood vessels. This is how we end up with plaques in our veins.
In The RESTART Program we don’t use any sweeteners on the sugar detox. Some safe alternatives if you are going to have sugar keeping in mind that sugar is sugar and will affect your blood sugar the same -are honey, maple syrup and maybe coconut sugar. Again- these all will do the same damage if you eat too much of it. You shouldn’t be having any more than 22-24 grams of sugar a day according to the world health organization. That is not a lot when you figure 4 grams of sugar is = to 1 teaspoon of sugar.
Stay away from aspartame, splenda and other artificial sweeteners. Some people think stevia in green powder form or the liquid drop forms are okay- I don’t care for the taste and I don’t know that my body loves them either. Some people do okay with erythritol or xylitol- they can cause bloating and irritate your gut. Avoid agave as it is pure fructose. It will for sure spike your blood sugar.
The bottom line here is that you cannot address your thyroid without addressing your blood sugar and your diet.
Diet changes alone can result in weight loss, more energy, better sleep, lessened cravings, better skin, and a better functioning thyroid.
I’d love to have you in my class. Learn more or register at www.outofthewoodsnutrition.com/restart
Check out autoimmune strong here.
Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m glad you are here. Please leave me a review on iTunes and share this podcast with anyone you know who might be helped by it.
I’m sending out a recipe for breakfast soup in my newsletter next week so go sign up for the newsletter on my website if you want that. It is really good. You will also get an ebook called 5 things your doctor won’t tell you about hypothyroidism.
Join the Help For Hashimoto’s facebook group to get ongoing support from other members and from me.
You can find me on instagram at stephanieewalsntp but all the action will soon be in the newsletter.
See you next week!