Do you feel like something is off but can’t pinpoint the root cause of your weight gain, brain fog, or hair loss? Blame it on stress or lack of sleep? Have you gone to the doctor or even multiple doctors and they say that your thyroid lab numbers look normal and send you on your way?
Well, you are not alone! One out of three patients is unaware that they are hypothyroid. It is three to seven times more common in women ages 20-50.
Let’s first discuss how the thyroid works.
The pituitary gland is a small region within the brain. It produces thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). This is the common test that is run by your doctor when you complain of thyroid related symptoms. However, TSH is not an indicator of free thyroid hormone levels. TSH tells the thyroid to produce thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). TSH increases when the level of thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) drops too low. T4 is the inactive form that can be converted to the active form of T3 to be used by the body.
An underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) indicates that there is low production of T4 and T3. While an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) leads to too much of the thyroid hormones, T4 and T3.
How does lifestyle impact this?
Your nervous system communicates with your endocrine system to tell your body the state of the environment (i.e. stressed, safe, calm, etc.). Think of your nervous system as having two modes, the sympathetic (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic (rest and digest) modes. When there is an imbalance in the time spent in these modes, this can lead to impairments in our endocrine system such as within our thyroid.
Think of your body as a cup of stressors. These stressors are all factors that impact the nervous system. They include toxins, sleep, psychological, pathogens (gut health), exercise, and nutrition. For some patients, stressors may be coming from all of these sources and for others, just one or two. These different stressors can all be managed and treated using lifestyle and nutrition strategies. Here are some natural remedies that can support this process.
A reduction in calorie intake and carbohydrates and caloric intake can lead to a decrease in active thyroid hormones (T3) by about 50%. Therefore, it is important to get enough fat, protein, and carbohydrates in each meal.
To best understand your macronutrient needs, you should consult the advice of a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
These nutrient recommendations can be met with a well-balanced diet. Examples of complete food sources to meet these needs include raw nuts and seeds, shellfish and seafood, beef or beef liver, and dark leafy greens.
Water and Environmental Toxins:
There are different environmental toxins that affect the endocrine system and more specifically the thyroid by mirroring your hormone structure and invading the thyroid gland. These include heavy metals, household toxins, industrial chemicals, and agricultural agents.
Fluoride, chloride, and bromide exposure can inhibit iodine transport and block T4 to T3 conversion. Perchlorates are reactive chemicals used in explosives, fireworks, and rocket motors, and can be found in well water. Because of their presence in water, it can contaminate drinking water and agricultural products like beef, berries, lettuce, milk, etc. This makes consuming organic and hormone-free foods very important.
Here are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins:
We teach you exactly how to support your thyroid through diet and exercise inside of our group membership, Strength in Hormones. Learn more and get started today here!
Additional Resources on Thyroid Health:
written by: Kadeshia Clark