Health Tip #39

health-tip-39

What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is an endocrine gland.  It helps to regulate metabolism and weight.  Thyroid hormones influence every cell and process in the body including growth and development.

How does it work?

The thyroid produces three types of hormones:  T3, T4, and T2.  These hormones interact with all other hormones in our bodies.  The liver converts T4 into T3 (the active form).  T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair and helps maintain body weight by controlling metabolism.  T3 can be disrupted by stress, infections, nutritional imbalances, toxins and allergens.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is and under-active thyroid, when when our bodies don’t produce enough thyroid hormone.  Many, many people have sub-clinical hypothyroidism with no obvious signs or symptoms.

  • Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

    • Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism include: tiring easily and lack of sustained energy, depression, feeling of a “heavy” head, falling asleep sitting up, weight gain, dry skin and chronic hives, hair loss, always feeling cold, low basal body temperature, stiff and popping joints, tingling and numbness.

Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is an over-active thyroid, when the thyroid secretes too much T4.

  • Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism

    • Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: protruding eyes, menstrual cycle irregularities, weight loss, heartbeat irregularities, emotional instability, lack of mental focus, nervousness, restlessness, and frequent bowel movements.

Possible Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction and What to Avoid

Some possible underlying causes of thyroid dysfunction include: radiation exposure, chronic stress, nutrient debt (from eating processed foods, low HCl and malabsorption), heavy metal accumulation, pesticides, halogens (bromides, fluoride, chlorine), dysbiosis, free radical damage (low antioxidants), low iodine levels, low selenium levels, yo-yo dieting, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) and goitrogens (in soy and cabbage family foods), Food allergies and sensitivities, and gluten sensitivity.

Testing thyroid function

Lab tests may be done to access the function of the thyroid including: TSH test, free T4 and free T3 test, and a thyroid antibody test to test for an autoimmune reaction.  A self test can be performed as an initial indicator of low thyroid by taking our temperature, with a basal body thermometer, each morning, before getting out of bed, for at least three days.  Average body temperature measurements should not be below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.4 degrees Celsius.

What to Add In

Things to add in to our diets and lifestyles to nourish the thyroid include:

  • Clean”  whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) to help reduce her exposure to toxins in the diet, particularly pesticides as they interfere with iodine uptake.
  • Shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store looking for nutrient dense, unprocessed whole foods.
  • A primarily plant based diet of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, will provide her with plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Meals including protein and healthy fats to help us feel more satisfied and support blood sugar stability.  healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, egg yolks and omega 3 oils (like those found in cold water fish, walnuts and pecans, will not make us fat but instead nourish the thyroid and help to regulate our weight).
  • Slow down, careful chewing, avoiding or limiting convenience foods (which lead to inflammation and thyroid problems), as well as drinking between meals (not with meals) so as to not dilute HCl.
  • Drinking pure or filtered water, which does not contain any fluoride or Chlorine.
  • Sea foods and Sea vegetables, (such as: kelp flakes or mixed seaweed flakes), rich in trace minerals and iodine, have a salty flavor and can be added (undetected) to soups and stews. Note: Iodine containing foods are recommended for non-autoimmune thyroiditis only. For autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), they should be avoided.
*For more information on Hashimoto’s and molecular mimicry, see my tip on going gluten free.

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Health Tip #34

health-tip-34

Soft drinks are addictive

If you are a regular soft drink consumer, one of the best things you can do for your health is to stop drinking soft drinks.  Soft drinks contain sugar, in the form of fructose, caffeine and a number of unsavory chemical flavors, coloring and preservatives.  Sugar and caffeine are very addictive substances.  In fact, sugar consumption increases dopamine and stimulates pleasure centers in our brains exactly the same way heroin does.

Soft drinks cause blood sugar dis-regulation

Consuming caffeine and sugar in this way can set you off on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows as your body struggles to return to homeostasis after  their consumption.  Blood sugar rises rapidly.  The pancreas creates insulin to deal with the sugar.  As the blood sugar spikes, the liver deals with the sugar by storing it as fat.  The caffeine creates a stress response which raises blood pressure and the liver dumps more sugar into the bloodstream.  An hour later our blood sugar crashes leaving us looking for another sugar high.  The sustained level of sugar intake of a regular soft drink consumer, makes it impossible to lose weight and can lead to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Fructose makes us fat

Most soft drinks are sweetened with fructose which is far worse for our health than regular sugar because fructose must be processed by the liver which then stores it as fat.  For this reason, fructose consumption has been associated with obesity.  Fructose has also been linked to increased levels of triglycerides which increases risk of heart disease.  The blood sugar roller coaster effect after fructose consumption also puts us a risk for insulin resistance and decreased leptin signaling.  Leptin controls appetite and fat storage.

Artificial sweeteners are no better

Finally, if we think we can avoid soft drinks negative effects by choosing the diet version, think again.  Diet sodas are often sweetened with Aspartame.  Aspartame has been associated with neurological disorders, brain tumors, liver problems, birth defects, diabetes, and other ailments.  Artificial sweeteners also disrupt appetite regulation and sends messages to keep eating more.

Healthier alternatives

The best thing we can do for our health when it comes to soft drinks is to just avoid them all together.  Try switching to spring or sparkling water, adding cucumber, lemon or lime for flavor.  Chilled herbal teas are flavorful and refreshing. Lacto-fermented drinks like kefir or kombucha can also be a healthier alternative.

Health Tip #4

health-tip-4

Just as with not counting calories, we don’t need to count the numbers on the scale either to indicate we are on the path to health.  At most, the  number on the scale shows where we’ve been not where we’re going.  And besides that, did you know that muscle weighs more than fat? Did you know you can be ‘skinny’ on the outside but have dangerous fat accumulations around your organs on the inside?   As you begin a new healthy living regime, continually looking at the scale can be discouraging and misleading.  Instead of asking, how much does the scale say I weigh today, ask, how is my energy level today?  Do I have more energy than yesterday? How do I feel today?  If you stay focused on your ‘why’ and visualize your goal regularly, and by continually adding in the nutrient dense foods we discussed in the previous post, you can’t help but be heading in the right direction.  Just holding the intention that you want to do something positive for your health will be leading you in the right direction.  The scale can’t measure that or any of the other positive changes you are making for yourself.  The scale cannot measure your change in mindset which is the biggest factor in making positive changes for your health.