In the United States about 20 million Americans suffer from some type of thyroid disorder. Mostly it is an under active thyroid (hypothyroid) but there are those who have an over-active thyroid which comes with its own problems.
Unfortunately there are no stats for South Africa.
What’s really surprising is that 60% of those who have thyroid problems are completely unaware that this is the root of their problems.
The American Thyroid Association reports that 1 in 8 women in the USA is affected by a thyroid disorder at some point during her lifetime.
Think of it as your body's thermostat.
It regulates your body temperature, hunger levels, sex drive, mood, how much energy use up during the day.
It is interrelated to every system in your body.
So if your thyroid is not running at its best then you are not running at your best.
Where is your thyroid?
It is a butterfly shaped gland in the middle of your neck and below your voice box.
Your thyroid produces the master metabolism hormones that control every function in your body. It makes sense that if your thyroid is not working at best case then there is going to be a knock on effect on every other system in your body.
There are 3 thyroid hormones all with long names!!! Their short names are T4, T3 and T2.
T3 is converted to Free T3 and Reverse T3.
Free T3 is what really matters.
This is the hormone that attaches to a receptor in every cell in your body and causes something to happen.
That could be body temperature rising, metabolism increasing or bowel functioning.
A sluggish thyroid will usually be experienced in these ways;
What can contribute to thyroid problems?
Genetics to lifestyle habits can all have an impact on the health of your thyroid.
There are a number of nutrients that play a role that are often overlooked in proper thyroid function.
These are iodine, selenium, zinc and B vitamins.
The number one cause of an under active thyroid or hypothyroidism is an iodine deficiency!
Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones and the normal functioning of the thyroid.
So where do we find iodine rich foods?
Seaweed is a great source. But it is a bit weird in a Western diet, right!?
Sushi has seaweed so I guess we could all indulge in more sushi!! Other sea vegetables are dulse and kelp.
But for Westerners you can find iodine in raw dairy i.e. non pasteurised. Wild caught tuna, cod, sea bass and eggs.
When there is iodine present in the soil where crops are grown (remember iodine is a mineral) then these vegetables are good sources –
onions, mushrooms, lettuce, spinach, pineapple, cantaloupe, whole-wheat and green peppers.
Selenium helps to balance T4 levels of thyroid hormone.
Foods that are high in selenium are Brazil nuts, spinach, tuna, grass fed beef, turkey and beef liver.
Zinc and vitamins B5 & B12 are also important for thyroid health.
Vitamin B12 helps to balance hormones naturally and treats chronic fatigue syndrome. Eat grass-fed beef and beef liver, tuna, raw milk and cheese, cottage cheese, lamb and eggs.
Vitamin B5 has many of the same benefits as B12 for supporting the thyroid as well as supporting metabolism. Eat these foods as part of your meals; peas, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, sesame and sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, spinach and ground flaxseed.
What else can you do?
Get enough rest and learn to manage stress.
Physical and emotional stress put your body in a fight or flight mode. When this happens then the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline, are heightened.
This causes the blood vessels to narrow, muscle tension increases and blood pressure too. Antibodies and inflammatory proteins that suppress immune function are released. All this damages the adrenal glands and thyroid.
So take stress seriously and find the root causes of your mental strain. Try multiple methods to deal with your stress.
Aim for 7 – 9 hours of sleep each night.
Meditate, exercise, journal and look to be part of a community.
Either a faith based one or support group. And schedule enjoyable activities for yourself and the people that you enjoy spending time with.
Lab tests to determine if you have a thyroid problem.
Normally doctors only check for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) and T4.
There are other tests though, that will show a better picture of whether you have a thyroid problem.
Ask your doctor to run these tests.
Dr Amy Myers is a leading a Functional Medicine doctor specialising in thyroid treatment. She herself has the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s disease. This is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system turns against the body's own tissues. In this case the body turns against the thyroid.
According to her these are the optimal values for the lab results on the tests done…..
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21 Days to Increased Energy.
Back to school today for the second term.
First quarter of the year is completed.
The season of Autumn is becoming more real. Leaves changing colour and falling. Crisper mornings and cooler evenings.
Glorious days with big blue skies. It's a lovely time of year.
So, one of us wrote to me asking if could I write about iron - so here we go -
For me growing up, I lived with my dad, and regularly once I got my period, liver of various origins was served up as an evening meal.
It wasn't really explained to me why we were having liver but since then I've learnt that liver is a good source of iron.
Since it is important to have sufficient iron in the body this was a good meal to have.
What does iron do?
Its #1 job is to bind a haemoglobin molecule to a red blood cell.
Haemoglobin is the carrier of oxygen.
Without enough oxygen your cells will begin to die.
When you don't have enough iron then you can become anaemic.
When you're anaemic your body has less of an ability to carry oxygen in your blood.
As a result you may start to feel tired and have less energy.
Children and menstruating women are more likely to become anaemic.
Children because they may not be eating enough variety – (ask me - that's my two year old. He has a very limited diet).
Women because of menstruating, pregnancy and premenopausal.
Now it is easy to work out whether you are anaemic.
The question is why. There could be a number of reasons –
Before you start supplementing with iron, I would suggest that you have your blood tested.
Having too much iron is as bad for your body as not having enough.
The blood test to have is called Serum Ferritin.
It measures the molecule in your blood that carries iron. If your ferritin levels are low then your iron levels are low.
The healthy range is between 20 to 80 nanograms per millilitre.
Once you know you are low in iron then you can start to boost your stores using food.
There are two types of iron found in food heme and non-heme iron.
Heme iron is found in meat and seafood. These foods are quickly absorbed by the body.
Non-heme foods are plant-based – fruit, vegetables and nuts.
To improve absorption of these non-heme foods choose to eat vitamin C rich foods or supplement with vitamin C.
On the flip side too much iron in the body can cause its own problems.
The best thing to do is to know your numbers.
Ask your doctor for a Serum ferritin test.
Should you need to supplement with iron then choose chelated iron or carbonyl iron or ferrous bisglycinate.
There is also a plant derived supplement called Floradix.
These options are less likely to cause constipation or other intestinal abscess which ferrous sulphate can do.
Vitamin D may also have an effect on your iron levels.
In a study done evaluating blood sampling researchers could show there was a link between vitamin D deficiency and an increased risk of anaemia.
A large percentage of the population is vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is linked to so many bodily functions that it stands to reason that by normalising your vitamin D levels your over overall health could improve.
It was 5:15 a.m. one morning that I got a message from my maid.
She was man down with a tummy bug and would not be coming to work.
We rely so much on our maids, don't we?
They really are an important part of our families.
So she wasn't coming to work. It's school holidays. I'm thinking, "Oh crap! Not just one child but now two to sort out."
Anyway, snacks got packed. Toys and entertainment packed. Blankie for naptime packed.
And we all went to work.
But in between receiving the message and getting to work I got so stressed out. My whole plan and morning-time routine was now out of whack .
And along came my 6 year old who said , “Mom. It's Ok to be stressed. It's ok but you need to calm down and breathe. Breathe, Mom.”
Don't you just love that what you say to them comes right back at you at the most appropriate time?
I breathed and reached for Relicalm.
It's like a large cup of tea - it has the same ingredient as tea l-theanine - which helps to calm you. Now you know why that cup of tea works so well! Relicalm also promises 5 hours of calm . Just what I needed!
And that is the kind of stress that we all dealing with - not the fight or flight - that is part of our evolution.
There was no fight for me and no physical escape route that I needed to take.
It was all mental but our bodies release chemicals for the physical fight or flight. Snce we're not in a situation that requires physicality those stress chemicals start to cause havoc on our body’s systems.
Let's take a look at the impact of stress on our body -
Memory - Long term exposure to cortisol is linked to shrinkage of the memory part of your brain. A Finnish study found that patients with persistently high cortisol levels were 3x as likely to develop Alzheimer's.
Head - Studies have shown that an increase in the stress hormone adrenaline can cause migraines. People who have tension headaches tend to translate their stress to muscle contractions.
Heart - reggular feelings of being highly stressed can lead to an increased risk of a fatal stroke. High cortisol levels are more likely to have high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Long term stress is a factor leading to raised blood pressure.
Skin - skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis can worsen when you are stressed.
Digestion - emotions and the gut are closely linked. Think of butterflies in your tummy. But also runny tummy, a sore tummy, indigestion and heartburn .
Immune system - Ongoing stress can deplete the body's resources to fight infection . Studies have shown that those under long-term stress have lower white blood cells - the guys that fight the bacteria and viruses that cause illness.
I know that when I was diagnosed with pneumonia in August ‘17 it was a result of long-term stress. My immune system was at rock bottom .
Mood - stress can leave you unable to concentrate, inefficient and accident prone. The ongoing release of cortisol and adrenaline - the stress hormones - disrupt levels of the feel good chemical - serotonin . This may lead to depression.
So what's a girl to do? -
1) Breathe! Really.
When you're under stress your breathing is rapid and shallow. Breathe through your nose for a count of 5 and out for a count of 6.
Do this 5 times .
He who half breathes, half-lives.
2) Get Moving
Chase your children in the garden, what about a game of touch rugby? Turn up the radio and dance! Go for a walk around your complex or on the road .
3) Create a list of activities and people who bring you Joy
Make time to do something that makes your heart sing .
I love crocheting and I am making a blanket for our king size bed!
P.S. Stress suppresses your body's production of testosterone which helps control abdominal fat.
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P.S.S - You can't be a great mum, wife, employee and friend if your stressed out and struggling with your health....