The thyroid is the heart of the endocrine system

Thyroid Matters

Your thyroid matters! Sluggish digestion, lethargic immunity, stagnant detoxification, languid metabolism, lackluster moods, and torpid libido are all related to reduced thyroid function. This brief primer covers thyroid matters ranging from symptoms and lab testing to diet do’s and don’ts.

Why thyroid matters

Beyond regulating your energy and weight, your thyroid is an early indicator for deteriorating health – a sort of canary in a coal mine. Because this small gland is so sensitive to stress, toxins, and nutrient-poor food, it tends to begin lagging before other disease is detected.

Further, as much as 90% of thyroid dysfunction is due to autoimmunity. Left unchecked, it provides a pathway to other autoimmune conditions. Thyroid disease is therefore considered a gateway to further disease.

Tell-tale thyroid symptoms of low thyroid

Most people understand that weight gain and tiredness can be signs of hypothyroidism. You might even be aware that loss of the outer third of your eyebrow is another symptom of this condition. But did you know that feeling cold all over most of the time also may indicate low thyroid function? Other symptoms may include:

  • Blaise emotions
  • Chronic constipation
  • Thinning hair
  • Morning headaches that wear off as the day goes on
  • Stiffness or all-over achiness
  • Foggy brain
  • Brittle nails and dry skin

What lab tests do and don’t tell you

The typical TSH test will tell you if your brain is stimulating your thyroid to make more thyroxine, also known as T4. In other words, does your brain perceive that you need more thyroid action? According to WebMD, a TSH higher than 4 mU/L is considered insufficient. Medline Plus says a TSH of 5 µU/mL indicates deficiency. Let’s take that a step further. To be optimal, your TSH probably needs to be closer to 2.5 mU/L.

Unfortunately, your brain may be satisfied with the amount of thyroid hormone long before other organs, such as your liver. Not only that, a TSH test does NOT tell you how much of that T4 is unbound, or free for use in the body. Nor will it tell you how much thyroxine you are actually converting to the active form of the hormone, known as T3, or triiodothyronine.

Further, a TSH test doesn’t measure how much T3 is being inactivated into Reverse T3, or whether you are making antibodies to your thyroid tissue. Thyroid antibodies are a clue to autoimmune thyroiditis.

To get all these measures, you need a full thyroid panel.

Foods that help or hurt

Creating thyroid hormone requires ample protein. Therefore, a high-carb diet can be detrimental. Beyond that, you need minerals to serve as “spark plugs” in the process of thyroid hormone synthesis. Critical minerals include iron, iodine, zinc, and selenium. A diet low in processed foods will serve you best here. Select nutrient-dense organ meats and seafood to optimize zinc, iodine, and iron. For selenium, you can try regular daily intake of a few Brazil nuts.

But that’s not all. Vitamins are critical, too, especially fully formed Vitamin A, or retinol. Although plant foods are rich in the beta carotene form of Vitamin A, organ meats and egg yolks are much better choices for retinol.

Because bromine, fluoride, and chlorine fill the thyroid’s iodine receptors, avoid baked goods with wheat flour, which is often “brominated”. Drink spring or filtered water that hasn’t been treated fluoridated or chlorinated.

Avoid soy unless it’s in a fermented form, such as miso, and also avoid high amounts of raw cruciferous vegetables. These foods or goitrogenic, meaning they can decrease the production or activation of thyroid hormone.

More thyroid matters

If you feel this primer describes your struggles, contact me to discuss how I can help you.
Sugar Saboteurs

Sugar Saboteurs

Sugar Saboteurs are loved ones who undermine your efforts to avoid treats, desserts, sweeteners, and sugar-laden food. If you are emotionally attached to individuals who are sugar addicts, you may have a difficult time avoiding sweets when you are around them. Six strategies can help you maintain a healthy friendships AND a healthy lifestyle.

Suggest a Substitute

No one wants to feel deprived. In fact, going without something can actually drive you to it. So, consider higher quality, more nutrient-dense options, such as these from Life Health HQ.  It can be liberating to bring your own sugar-free treat, or offer an alternative that is more acceptable to both you and your sugar saboteur.

Progress, not perfection

If you fall off the bandwagon, don’t wallow in the mud. Climb back up with compassion, but determination. You know how to nourish yourself better now than ever before in your life. But you are still learning. It is unlikely that you will ever reach a state of flawless food consumption. But, you can do a little better each day, perhaps hydrating more, selecting a few more fresh vegetables, or simply adding more Omega 3’s to your routine. Wherever you are, shun complacency, but be realistic. There are likely to always be sugar saboteurs in your life.

Your uniqueness is a gift

Instead of being ashamed that you are making different food choices than those around you, see yourself as a ring leader. Perhaps your sugar saboteurs just need a little encouragement to follow suit. Your initiative could be the factor that changes your office culture.

To reduce sweets, increase nutrients

Sugars can leave you hungry and roaming for more, like an exhausted fire waiting for kindling. Fueling with vitamin- and mineral-rich choices throughout the day satisfies you, so that you are less vulnerable to cravings. Choose colorful vegetables, wild-caught or pastured protein sources, and include natural fats. Unrefined fats are satiating, providing long, slow, burning fuel, like a log on the fire. Stick to unprocessed choices, like butter, coconut oil, olive oil, or avocados.

DIY is always in style

Special diets are accepted these days: there’s always the gluten-free, the dairy-free, or the meat-free crowd. So if your sugar saboteurs are coaxing you to make unhealthy choices, it’s okay to say, “My practitioner told me I can’t”  It’s easy to say, “I have food sensitivities,” or “I have special dietary considerations.” Most people won’t even ask why, but if they do, you have an opportunity to share your food philosophy!

Develop Your Dance

Sugar saboteurs may be eating to fill a need, such as beating boredom, escaping fatigue, or connecting with loved ones. Why not suggest a physical activity to replace eating?  Perhaps just strolling through a park, or tossing a few horseshoes would fill that need. If all else fails, dance!