Health Tip #46

health-tip-46

What’s wrong with coffee?

If you depend on coffee to get you going in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up, you could be suffering from adrenal dysregulation.  Caffeine too late in the afternoon can disturb sleep which affects brain health, weight management and our body’s detox and repair.  Coffee is also a diuretic and can be dehydrating, especially if you drink coffee instead of drinking water.  Caffeine can also raise stress hormone levels like cortisol which make us store fat (particularly in our mid section).  Caffeine can also interfere with thyroid medication if taken at the same time.

Benefits of coffee

On the other hand, …recent studies have found that caffeine containing beverage such as tea and coffee have certain health promoting benefits.  Coffee is North Americans #1 source of antioxidants.  This isn’t because coffee is the most highly antioxidant food, but because of the sheer amount of coffee we drink.  Some of the health benefits found include: reduced stroke risk, lower rates of heart disease, lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, lower risk of heart rhythm problems, increased blood flow to blood vessels, lower risk of premature death, lower risk of Parkinson disease, lower risk of heart disease.

One man’s food is another man’s poison

Some experts even tell us caffeine’s effects on the body are not the same for everyone. We all have the gene CYP1A2 which helps break down toxins.  This gene comes in two types, 1A and 1F.  If we have the 1A version of the gene, coffee reduces our risk of heart attack.   But if we have the 1F version, coffee increases our risk of heart attack.

Choose wisely

To receive the benefits from drinking coffee and to minimize the negative side affects experts warn to choose our coffee wisely.

In order to receive health benefits from coffee the quality of the coffee must be considered.  According to Dave Asprey of Bulletproof Coffee, most studies which show that coffee is unhealthy, do not control for the production process behind the coffee. Different processing methods introduce radically different amounts of potent toxins into the coffee.

Asprey asserts, good coffee = good performance. Bad coffee = bad health.

“Clean” coffee needs to have minimal contamination from mycotoxins (mold toxins). Coffee is also one of the most heavily sprayed crops.  Most conventional coffee is contaminated with pesticides.  Ground coffee is also prone to rancidity.  Adding dairy to our coffee can interfere with some of the beneficial effects.  Sugar in our coffee only adds to the likelihood of developing insulin resistance.  White, chlorine bleached coffee filters can leach into our coffee.

Some attributes of a good quality coffee are that it is: tested for mycotoxins, organic, fair-trade, freshly ground (not pre-ground), and dark roast.

Limit coffee intake

Besides the quality of the coffee, Asprey goes on to say:

High amounts of caffeine can cause problems such as decreased insulin sensitivity, impaired brain function, jitters, nervousness, stomach discomfort, and decreased exercise performance. As with any drug, you can overdose. Moderate amounts of coffee will do nothing but good for most people.

Experts suggest limiting our coffee intake to 1 or 2 cups in the morning and switching to green tea in the afternoon.  Coffee should be strictly avoided for pregnant women.  As with coffee, the quality of green tea that we choose should be carefully considered.  Many green teas from China are contaminated with lead.  Japanese green tea is a better choice.  Tea also readily absorbs fluoride from the soil it is grown in which can be a problem for those with thyroid dysregulation.

And as mentioned before, when we need that morning cup of coffee to get us going, we may be dealing with much bigger issues.  Limiting coffee, restoring our adrenals and getting our hormones in balance should be the first line of business.

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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.