Have you ever been on a call and couldn’t for the life of you get a word in? It’s as if your brain and mouth got disconnected. Well this is what it’s like when you have low thyroid hormones.
Low thyroid effects 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men and this includes those who aren’t diagnosed. Low thyroid can cause brain fog, weight gain, fatigue, muscle weakness, hair loss, low libido, cold hands and feet, constipation and so much more.
What is the Thyroid and How Does it Work
The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland at the base of your neck. If everything is working well, you’ll feel great! If not, then you’ll feel pretty poopy.
Here’s the challenge though, doctors will usually only test something called TSH – thyroid stimulating hormone. This is short sighted and let’s take a step back, or in this case, a step up to the Hypothalamus.
The Hypothalamus is the master regulator and releases something called TRH. This tells the pituitary gland to make TSH . The TSH tells your thyroid to produce T4 which is an inactive thyroid hormone. This gets converted into T3 which is the active form of your thyroid hormone. It’s what turns up metabolism. If you have good T3, everything is great! Improves constipation, hair growth, fertility. This conversion happens largely in your liver – about 70%. If T4 doesn’t get converted into free T3 then you’ll feel, as I said, poopy.
If you go to your doc and say “hey doc, check my thyroid would ya?” They’ll check your TSH and the “normal range” is between .5 and 5.0. BUT ideally you’d want something more like 1.8 to 3.0. If TSH is high, the doc with give you T4 like Synthroid or the generic levothyroxine. But does this really help?
You have a bunch of different glands in the body – Adrenals, para-thyroid, pituitary, gonads and hypothalamus all impact, stimulate or inhibit the thyroid. It’s like a web! Um well without the scary spider traipsing around. So many things can affect the thyroid, it’s not just whether your TSH is high or not.
What Affects Your Thyroid?
Stress make the hypothalamus get sleepy – it’s less sensitive to signalling from your body so if your body says “hey I’m low in T4 givemesome” it won’t send a strong enough signal to the pituitary gland to make more TSH. Stress also messes with your liver – remember this is where you convert T4 into free T3. Instead of the liver making free T3, stress will tell your liver to make reverse T3 which is totally useless. More stress = more reverse T3
Environmental toxins and pathogens also mess with your thyroid hormone productions and conversion.
For instance Halogens like fluorine, chlorine and bromine will take the receptor sites of iodine in your thyroid gland and then your body will mount an attack. This is measurable with a TPO antibody test.
Endocrine disrupting compounds common in canned foods, receipt paper, petrochemicals (rocket fuel) and anything plastic will also disrupt signalling and conversion.
Mold toxins can cause TPO ab to rise leading to Hashimotos which is an autoimmune condition. If you’ve had mold exposure, check out my video about mold toxicity symptoms and what to do about it.
Heavy Metals not only displace essential minerals needed by the thyroid to produce T4, some metals like mercury, can take the place of iodine in your thyroid. Other metals such as lead and cadmium can also affect the thyroid functions.
Eating gluten especially wheat – can cause leaky gut and increase inflammation which will lead to increased TPO ab
Leaky Gut/Microbiome Imbalances
Gut flora makes up about 20 – 25% of how well your thyroid functions. So if you have an overgrowth of candida, or pathogenic bacteria, this will effect your thyroid hormones.
Low Nutrient Levels
If you’re low in iodine, selenium, zinc, iron and B vitamins then your thyroid won’t have essential building blocks it needs to make T4. With regard to iodine – about 70% of your iodine is in your thyroid!
Let’s first get back to that TSH test – If you have a hypothyroid, and are given T4 without checking for Hashimotos, you’re missing out. Get your TSH, T4, free T3, TPO ab and, if possible get your reverse T3 checked. TPO ab help to identify whether you have Hashimotos. You should be at 0 or close to 0. If you’re level is elevated, say in the teens or at the high end of “normal” which is 34 for most tests, then you have something else to address – an autoimmune thyroid condition.
What about goiters? Goiters are when the thyroid tissue increases in size to accommodate more iodine receptor sites. So in areas where iodine is low, this is a more common occurrence.
Goitrogens, like cruciferous veggies don’t harm thyroid tissue but they will compete for those iodine receptor sites. So if you’re low in iodine, eat these foods in large amounts, yep, this can result in a goiter.
So what the heck can you do?
Reduce carbs! If you’re insulin resistant, you’ll want to go low carb higher fats, If you aren’t insulin resistance, focus on low to moderate carbs (about 100 grams per day).
Reduce toxin exposure. Since I can have multiple videos on this topic alone – for now go to ewg.org to see how you can start making smarter decisions about your foods, bath and body products to reduce everyday toxin exposure.
Filter your water! You’ll want to remove chlorine and fluoride from your drinking water and filter out chlorine for your shower water. I use a Berkey filter to help remove both. Or a reverse osmosis filter will do the same. For the shower, I use a carbon filter.
Avoid inflammatory foods including gluten/wheat, corn soy and dairy products. Most clients do just fine with butter and goat cheese.
Make sure you’re having bowel movements! Detoxing what’s built up starts with working on your drainage pathways.
Do a liver detox -Here is my favorite liver detox by EquiLife.
Reduce stress! Stress impacts so much more than just thyroid health. Focus on breathwork, meditation, mindfulness practices and gratitude!
Rebalance your gut microbiome! This is my favorite test to see what is happening with you gut microbiome.
Now if you’re ready to take the next steps in improving your overall metabolic health, check out my new group program for women over 40! All about rebalancing your hormones! This program sign up is only through February 11th so sign up now!