My Secrets to Regaining Thyroid Health
I cannot tell you how many women have consulted with me about their thyroid. They either have been told their thyroid is “normal” even though they have many of the classic symptoms of a low thyroid. Or, they have been diagnosed with a low thyroid, started on medication (most commonly Synthroid or levothyroxine), but still feel lousy. So I have put together my list of sure fire thyroid tactics that I use with all of my thyroid patients.
Step One: Get tested for thyroid antibodies.
80% of the cases of thyroid problems are actually due to antibodies attacking the thyroid gland. This is called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and it is an autoimmune condition. Basically what happens is your own body is making chemical bullets to destroy your thyroid gland. This is important to know because the treatment for this condition is radically different than with regular thyroid cases.
Here is the really sad part – the vast majority of medical doctors do not even run this test because it does not change THEIR treatment recommendations. I assure you that it does change MY treatment recommendations radically, changing the situation from a simple hormone problem to a complex immune system problem.
Oh, one more thing, you can have a perfectly normal TSH level and still be making thyroid antibodies, like a smouldering fire in the attic of a house…it will sooner than later erupt into BIG problem.
Step Two: Test for cortisol.
Cortisol is made in the adrenal glands and it is our main stress hormone. Cortisol has many functions in the body, and it has a direct impact on the thyroid gland. When cortisol levels are out of balance this will basically put the brakes on the thyroid gland.
Cortisol is easily tested with a saliva test. Again, most doctors do not take this extra step to test for cortisol, but I do because it radically impacts my treatment plan. In fact, I find cortisol imbalance as the number one cause of low thyroid in the majority of my patients. This means I usually treat the cortisol imbalance, not the thyroid, and the thyroid gets better.
Step Three: Test the GI tract.
20% of healthy thyroid activity depends on a healthy GI tract. Part of this has to do with digestion and absorption. If food does not get broken down and absorbed properly, the nutrients needed to build the thyroid hormones (selenium, zinc, iodine, vitamin A, vitamin D, etc.) will become deficient/insufficient. This lack of building materials means that thyroid hormone production slows down.
Next, if there are hidden infections in the GI tract (parasite, yeast, pathogenic bacteria) this will create inflammation and irritation which then creates more thyroid hormones in an inactivated form. Inactive is inactive…these hormones do absolutely nothing to help your health and actually further slow down your thyroid.
Step Four: Address unstable blood sugar.
Glucose and insulin can be like a real rollercoaster ride depending on how often and what you eat. One sure fire way to slow the thyroid down is to skip meals, especially breakfast. Another is to eat lots of carbs and sweets. The resulting glucose highs and lows are just another way that your body chemistry puts the breaks on the thyroid gland. Blood sugar instability also causes cortisol imbalance (see Step Two).
Step Five: Watch out for gluten intolerance.
84% of the general population has the gene for gluten intolerance. If your ancestors came from Europe, it is highly likely that you have the gene for gluten intolerance, too. This can impact thyroid health in a few ways. Firstly, people with gluten intolerance have an entirely different population of bacteria living in their intestines than a non-gluten intolerant person. This change in bacteria population actually allows for more of the inactive form of thyroid hormones to be made. As I said above, inactive hormones do nothing for your health.
Next, gluten causes irritation and inflammation of the GI tract, and this will impact the absorption of nutrients that are vital to production of thyroid hormones. When fewer nutrients are absorbed, less thyroid hormone can be made. Lastly, there is a high correlation between having gluten intolerance and also having the autoimmune form of hypothyroidism – Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This means that the immune system will be waging war against your thyroid gland. Every time you eat gluten you are then producing chemical bullets, called cytokines, which are slowing killing off your thyroid gland. And once it is gone, it is gone.
Step Six: Reduce excess estrogen.
Women can have too much estrogen from birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy (such as Premarin or estrogen creams), perimenopause, menopause, and even pregnancy. This excess estrogen triggers the body to make too much thyroid binding globulin (TBG). TBG is a protein that acts like shuttle for thyroid hormones, helping them to travel through the bloodstream to get to all the different parts of the body.
Hormones travelling on TBG are inactivated. So, when TBG is overproduced, more and more thyroid hormones get inactivated because they are trapped on the shuttle, and the patient feels all the symptoms of hypothyroidism. In this case the problem really isn’t the thyroid itself…it is the excess estrogen.
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