You may already know that you have a thyroid problem, but knowing is only half the battle.
The only way to heal from and reverse low thyroid is to correct the factors that caused the disease in the first place! Taking a thyroid replacement supplement might help you feel better in the short-term, but that approach does nothing to fix the circumstances that caused your thyroid metabolism to malfunction.
The foundation of a functional medicine approach to any disease or imbalance is finding out WHY your body is not functioning properly; this means we must find the root cause.
Below are the 4 hidden factors that are secretly damaging your thyroid!
1. The Liver
Your liver produces the proteins responsible for transporting thyroid hormones and is also a central hub for T4’s conversion to active or free T3. Anything that reduces liver function can also affect thyroid function. Your liver is a primary site for detoxification, so if your body is overloaded with toxins from alcohol, medication, heavy metals, environmental pollutants and chemicals, or more, you may not be efficiently converting T4 to T3.
2. The Gut
Much like your liver, if tissues within your gut are damaged, efficient conversion of active thyroid hormone will be slowed down. It is extremely likely to find intestinal damage that results in malnutrition, autoimmunity, and a variety of other symptoms in people suffering from low thyroid. Repairing gut integrity and function is critical for reversing low thyroid!
Stress triggers the adrenal glands to secrete glucocorticoids such as cortisol. Cortisol revs up the body and prepares it to face the stressor, whether it be real or imagined. In times of acute stress, cortisol works to support the body by reducing inflammation and suppressing the immune system.
However, chronic stress causes inflammation and hijacks the immune system. Cortisol competes for resources that your body uses to convert inactive T4 to active T3. Stress also damages the liver, reducing its capacity to filter toxins, hindering its ability to convert T4 to T3.
4. Toxins, Metals, Fluoride, and Medications
The environment is flooded with toxins, and many of those make it into our bodies via air, water, food, and surroundings. A few examples of thyroid-damaging toxins are
Perchlorates, a chemical byproduct of jet fuel and car airbags, seep into drinking water and blocks the thyroid from taking up necessary iodine.
Pesticides have also been named culprits in thyroid dysfunction.
Heavy metals found in the environment and in common materials like vaccines, dental fillings, paint, or deodorant all have a damaging effect on the thyroid.
Many medications are known to interfere with thyroid function. Some medications like glucocorticoids, dopamine agonists, or somatostatin analogs can reduce the production of TSH.
Don’t Ignore Your Thyroid
Thyroid hormone is so important to the proper functioning of metabolic processes, affecting everything from sleep, mood, energy, and weight, to skin, hair, bowel movements, and nails.
For this reason, it is critical that you, as the patient, are informed and in touch with your bodies and symptoms.
Utilizing that awareness while working with a functional medicine practitioner means that you will benefit from accurate testing, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment.
As with anything in life, misconceptions and myths are passed down and accepted as truth because nobody stops to think about challenging the status quo.
When you’re first diagnosed with a condition like type 2 diabetes, there are countless thoughts running through your head, many of them including “should’ve, could’ve, would’ves” and a long queue of other regrets. The way diabetes is often presented paints a pretty bleak picture—you couldn’t have avoided this, it’s in your DNA, you put yourself in this irreversible position because of the lifestyle choices you made ten years ago, and the list goes on and on.
Between the information your health care provider gives you and the countless articles you find on questionably reputable sites while perusing the web, it can definitely be hard to separate fact from fiction. The great thing about myths, though, is that they can easily be busted. So let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about type 2 diabetes so that we can finally put a handful of these myths to rest once and for all.
Myth 1: Blame Your “Bad” Genes.
The thing about this myth is that, although it has been said thousands of times to countless patients, there is no definitive evidence that proves type 2 diabetes is linked to any specific gene. Even if there were a specific gene responsible for the condition, it would only affect a small segment of the diabetes population.
The reason behind this myth’s popularity is the attitude it produces. Of course, finding the root cause of a chronic condition like diabetes will prove to be a lot of work. Mainstream practitioners will often throw your genes under the bus because any patient will resign themselves to the diagnosis. If it’s in your genes, there’s nothing you can do about it, right? It’s important to bust this myth so that diabetics can feel empowered to take control over their health; otherwise, giving up can be destructive for morale and overall health.
Myth 2: Blame the Scale.
Although there is a correlation between being overweight and developing type 2 diabetes, your weight is not necessarily a cause. As many functional medicine practitioners know, being overweight can often be a symptom of a deeper, underlying issue. Just like uncontrollable glucose levels, being overweight is a sign that something else in the body is malfunctioning.
If weight was the issue, how would we explain the overweight individuals who have escaped their “destined” diabetic fate? How would we explain those with a healthy BMI who found themselves suffering from the same diagnosis?
But as mentioned before, it’s easier to state a cause then scavenging for the actual cause, so this particular myth is definitely a chart-topper when it comes to the popular excuses.
Myth 3: Blame Your Nonexistent Gym Membership.
This is a very common myth that serves as both a cause and cure in that practitioners will often say that a lack of exercise leads to a type 2 diabetes diagnosis, but they will also instruct the newly diagnosed patient to begin an exercise regimen.
This is a very classic situation in mainstream medicine. Functional medicine practitioners, however, realize that while exercise may help some patients keep their symptoms at bay, exercise (or lack thereof) is not a causative factor of diabetes, nor will it serve every diabetic the same way.
For some patients, an intense exercise regimen may actually put more stress on the body and end up doing more harm than good.
Myth 4: Blame Your Faulty Pancreas.
The most famous myth is probably the one that blames your pancreas. While it is true some type 2 diabetics’ bodies can’t produce adequate levels of insulin, there is a significant portion of the diabetic population that have no problem producing it.
The relationship between insulin and diabetes is not the lack of insulin, but rather the diabetic body’s inability to effectively utilize the insulin it produces. This particular myth might even be the most dangerous out of them all, as it typically leads to insulin therapy treatments. While these will help the diabetics who don’t produce enough insulin, injecting more insulin into a body that already produces enough can actually cause some long-term health issues and exacerbate already frustrating symptoms.
When it comes down to it, the only things these myths can diagnose is a bad case of laziness. The issue with these myths is that they assume each diabetic is exactly the same—that the treatment doesn’t have to suit the individual, just the condition. The only reason some mainstream practitioners perpetuate these myths is so that they can avoid having to dig deeper and deconstruct the condition to find the real cause.
But let this be a cure. It’s time to stop accepting these myths as fact. Let’s bust the myths so we can beat this disease.
Insomnia is a classic symptom of an overactive stress response and adrenal fatigue. Research has shown that a dysfunctional HPA axis and irregular cortisol production can interrupt sleep patterns. It is well known that adequate rest is essential to repairing your thyroidand easing adrenal dysfunction. However, you may be experiencing sleep disruption if your cortisol levels are spiking, causing you to wake up with a rapid heartbeat and a lot of nervous energy. The good news is there are plenty of ways to encourage a better night’s rest and support your thyroid and adrenal health.
Here are 14 ways to improve your sleep and support your thyroid
Stick to a sleep schedule.
Your body does best when it knows what to do. When your body gets into a rhythm, it can recognize when it is time to produce hormones to sleep and when to wake up. Your body works on a rhythm that links the hormones needed to sleep and wake.
Train your body to produce those hormones at the same time each day.
Remove blue light from your bedroom.
Create a sanctuary for rest in your bedroom. Your bed should be designated for sleep, not for binge-watching your favorite tv shows. TV and telephone screens create blue light that prevents the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Limit caffeine intake.
Did you know that your midday energy-boosting beverage could be causing your insomnia? Caffeine is beloved by all who need a quick pick-me-up, but it also causes the release of cortisol hormones, which is not so great for good sleeping habits. Ideally, you should avoid caffeine altogether, but if you can’t live without it, limit your consumption and make your cutoff time before noon. Doing so will allow your body ample time to calm down.
Many swear by a glass of wine and the like before bed to get them to sleep, but the struggle to stay asleep is their bigger issue.
Alcohol does initially help you relax and drift off to sleep, but it causes elevated blood sugar levels. Once blood sugar levels balance out, cortisol rears its nervous head causing anxiety, wakefulness, and night sweats.
Get regular exposure to sunlight.
You can improve your sleep behavior by adding a little sunshine to your day. Basking in the sun for at least 20 minutes a day can increase melatonin production at night.
Do not eat within 3 hours of going to bed.
Eating before bed can cause wakefulness and diverts your body’s resources to digestion instead of restoration.
Exercise before dinner.
Exercise is excellent when you want energy and endorphins, but not so great when you want to sleep. Make sure you hit the gym before dinner time to give your body time to slow down and get ready for rest.
Keep a journal next to your bed.
Keep your mind from racing all night by writing down your concerns and to-dos before bed. Having a journal handy can help you release your anxiety and relax your mind before bed.
Organize your sleep space.
Is your clutter creating unnecessary chaos in your bedroom? Create a more calming environment by keeping your bedroom in order. This will make for a more cozy and relaxing area to rest more peacefully.
Meditation, yoga, and even gentle stretching can help you relax and calm your mind, making falling asleep much easier.
Take supplement support.
Taking 200 to 400 mg of magnesium citrate or glycinate before bed will help calm the nervous system and relax muscles. These supplements also support regular bowel movements.
1-3 mg of melatonin before bed can support a healthy sleep rhythm and help you get to sleep and stay asleep longer.
Cut out the lights.
Light sources whether it be your clock, lamp, or street lights, could be causing you to stay awake. Invest in an eye mask and install blackout shades to keep light from disrupting.
Take a hot bath.
Increasing your body temperature with a hot bath will encourage better sleep. If you want an extra boost of sleep support, try adding magnesium-rich Epsom salts for even better restfulness. Magnesium is absorbed through the skin and helps relax your muscles and encourages sleep.
If you’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and are suffering from the symptoms, it’s time to take control over your health. If you’ve decided to get serious about changing your health status, the status-quo “healthy habits” guidelines may not do the trick. Exercise, managing stress, and building good nutrition habits are important, of course, to regaining optimal health. However, for type 2 diabetics, these basic principals may reverse the damage that years of inflammation and dysregulated blood sugar have caused.
I’ve outlined four major ways to take your health to the next level, and if you are willing to follow these tips, you’ll be supporting your body’s natural ability to heal itself, leaving you to enjoy life disease-free.
1. Stay Hydrated
Keeping your body hydrated helps your body deliver nutrients to your cells efficiently. Hydration will also ensure that your body excretes the waste and toxins it needs to.
It might seem as though any liquid or fluid will support your hydration; however, this is not the case.
Coffee, tea, soda, juices, and other beverages along these lines do not contribute to your daily hydration because they have extra additives that alter the way your body processes the liquids. In fact, many of these beverages can leave you dehydrated! I recommend that you drink half your body weight (in ounces) of purified, clean water every day. So, for example, someone who is 150 lbs should drink 75 oz of water per day.
2. Make Sure to Detox
We are constantly bombarded with environmental pollutants, dangerous heavy metals, pesticides, toxins, and household chemicals that are considered “endocrine disruptors.” These pollutants and toxins are definitely contributors to the prevalence of diabetes and other chronic diseases that have run rampant in our population. Functional medicine practitioners like myself use in-depth and advanced testing that will identify toxins, remove them from the body, and repair the tissue they have already harmed.
If you are suffering from type 2 diabetes and you’re struggling with weight issues, it’s important that you understand the importance of keeping your muscles, joints, and connective tissues healthy.
Carrying around excess weight adds stress to your joints, and living a sedentary lifestyle can cause your muscles to deteriorate over time, which will make it harder to become active or healthy later in life. It’s important to invest in bodywork: massages, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and the like. Constantly stimulating your joints, muscles, and connective tissues will help you recover.
4. Have a Support System
In the process of reversing your condition, it’s vital that you have a support system who can advocate for you and your well-being. Surround yourself with encouraging and constructive health care providers, friends, and family who will provide you with the different kinds of support you will need along the way. Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition, and it is imperative that you have a support system behind you.
Over 90% of those battling low thyroid are facing an imbalanced immune system and chronic inflammation.
A key aspect to healing from thyroid disorders is regaining healthy immune function and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
While supplementation alone cannot fully heal a person suffering from low thyroid, it can be an extremely helpful addition to thyroid therapies!
The following 5 supplements are effective for reducing thyroid inflammation and balancing immune function!
Nutrition is paramount to balancing inflammatory and anti-inflammatory systems. One key aspect of good nutrition is eating foods that provide the building blocks for inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules in the right ratios. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (FA) support this process. Omega-3 and some omega-6 FA are the precursors to anti-inflammatory processes, while most omega-6 are precursors to inflammatory molecules (which we need to fight infections and help our bodies heal when necessary)!
The average American has a ratio of 15–20 omega-6 to 1 omega-3. Less Westernized nations report a ratio closer to 4:1, which parallels a lower risk of inflammatory diseases. Increasing your omega-3 FA intake by way of flax oil and fish oil is one method for improving inflammatory responses. This should be done in tandem with a reduction in processed foods and other sources of omega-6.
Another strategy that supports the body’s ability to reduce inflammation is supplementing curcumin. Curcumin is found in turmeric, but it is typically taken as a concentrate. Curcumin is known to support the inhibition of pro-inflammatory pathways, resulting in the reduction in chronic inflammation and oxidative stress.
3. Black Seed Cumin Oil
Black seed cumin oil, also known as black seed oil contains a powerful anti-inflammatory component called thymoquinone. Thymoquinone
reduces disease-causing free radicals within the body
helps regulate the health of cells
Resveratrol is a food molecule found in the skins of red grapes (and therefore red wine) that can be very useful in helping the body reduce inflammation. While it is difficult to consume enough red wine to see the therapeutic benefits of resveratrol, many of my patients have experienced a lot of relief from resveratrol supplementation. It has been shown to help the body reduce inflammation as well as support the body’s ability to respond to insulin.
5. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is essential for helping the body modulate the immune system, which can directly impact inflammation, immune balance, and thyroid health. Many studies have focused on the effects of vitamin D supplementation for those suffering from autoimmune disorders, and this method has often resulted in improved symptoms.
A few words of caution for supplementing.
First, purchasing therapeutic grade supplements means that the supplements have been thoroughly tested for purity and effectiveness. It is always best to supplement under the care of a skilled functional medicine provider.
The epidemics of types 1 and 2 diabetes are well-recognized in American society. Type 1 diabetes accounts for the 5% of diabetic cases and is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In people with type 1 diabetes, their body does not produce insulin. This happens because the person’s immune system attacks and destroys the pancreatic beta cells that are responsible for insulin production. The other 95% of diabetes cases are type 2. In this form, the body can produce insulin but does not use it properly, which you know as insulin resistance.
Mainstream medicine focuses so heavily on these common forms that many people do not realize there are three other forms of diabetes that can cause just as much damage.
Many people have these forms of diabetes and don’t even know it! Find out what these three lesser-known diabetes are and how you can recognize symptoms.
The 3 forms of diabetes you may not know about
Pre-diabetes is just as it sounds; it is a precursor to full-blown type 2 diabetes. Blood sugar levels ranging in the 100 to 125 mg/dl are considered prediabetic. Until diabetes is diagnosed, many conventional medicine doctors will brush off moderately high blood sugar levels as a reminder to lose weight and eat better. Reactive—not proactive—medical treatment is the common theme in mainstream medicine.
Moderately high blood sugar levels, if left unchecked, will begin the process of insulin resistance, which will then lead to metabolic syndrome. Individuals with prediabetes will go years without intervention and eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Only then will their condition be taken seriously.
2. Type 1.5 Diabetes
Type 1.5 diabetes is a form of diabetes that has both autoimmune and insulin resistant systems working against the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels. If a patient develops symptoms of type 2 diabetes after the age of 30, it is imperative that he or she gets the proper testing that will check for autoantibodies in the body’s system. Conventional medicine rarely tests for co-occurring autoimmune disorders when patients are first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and because of this, many find it hard to manage their disease effectively.
3. Type 3 Diabetes
We know that patients with diabetes are two times more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. We also know that obesity and metabolic syndrome can cause cognitive decline. But what we didn’t know–which research is now proving– is that some forms of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are actually a type of diabetes now known as type 3 diabetes! What we are currently experiencing is a shift in how AD was once perceived. Previously considered a complication of diabetes, Alzheimer’s appears to share neuropathological characteristics that are capable of damaging essential cells throughout the entire body.
Increasingly more research is showing that the same insulin resistance responsible for type 2 diabetes may also be a driving force in developing plaque that inhibits memory and is commonly found in brains stricken with Alzheimer’s. This same plaque has also been found in some people with type 2 diabetes, showing a more significant connection than what was once believed.
Think you may have one of these forms of diabetes?
As with most health problems, early detection and treatment can prevent chronic disease from occurring or worsening. A skilled functional medicine provider can help you.
By using comprehensive testing and therapies, a functional medicine provider will work with you to create a custom treatment plan to reverse your diabetes and achieve optimal health!