Could your thyroid be the cause of your fatigue, weight gain, depression and hair loss?
Learn why thyroid conditions are largely undiagnosed and how toxicity can impact the thyroid. Find out what you can do to start healing thyroid problems, shed pounds and become optimistic and energetic again. This is a guest post by Magdalena Wszelaki, nutrition coach and a thyroid expert.
You might have had your thyroid tested lately and been told that “you have no thyroid problem” in spite of feeling run down, fatigued, moody and struggling with weight, depression, anxiety and hair loss.
If you look at your blood test results, you were probably tested for TSH and T4 – the “standard thyroid tests” in a conventional doctor’s office. Holistic and alternative medical practitioners believe that we have far more people suffering from an underactive thyroid but due to inadequate tests and ranges used, we fly under the radar. This is why:
1. TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T4 (hormone produced by the thyroid) are not enough to conclude that your thyroid is healthy.
It has been proven over and over again by holistic practitioners that many patients might have a “normal” TSH and T4 but only when additional tests are run such as Free T3, reverse T3, TPO and TGB antibodies, a complete diagnosis can be given. Sadly, most doctors are not testing for these markers causing so many people to go undiagnosed.
2. TSH range used as “normal” is 0.5 to 5.0
This is another controversial area as even the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) recommends doctors to use the range of 0.3-3.0. Most endocrinologists are not even aware of the revised range.
3. Antibodies are another critical marker in a complete diagnosis
Most thyroid conditions (we are talking about 90%) are autoimmune diseases. This means that the reason why the thyroid becomes under- or overactive is due to the attack of the immune system. By testing the level of TPO and TBG antibodies we can conclude how inflamed the immune system is. (Laurie's note: My initial TSH levels came back in “high normal” range, but my anti-bodies were sky high.)
4. T3 is the bio-available hormone for the body to use
The thyroid gland produces T4 hormone that is an inactive hormone that our body cannot utilize. The T4 hormone gets converted (in the gut and the liver) to T3 which is the bio-available hormone for our body to utilize.
T3 is the hormone that stimulates our metabolism, our brain function, digestive system, skin, hair, nails, etc. Sadly, many doctors do not test for T3 at all. This is why a person can have a “normal” T4 level but due to a poor digestive system and a sluggish liver, T3 might be insufficient and therefore causing many of the thyroid symptoms. (Laurie's note: My 4 levels were mid-range, but my T3 levels were low.)
5. Free T3 and not just Total T3
The few doctors who test for T3 tend to order “Total T3”. We need to test for Free T3 because this is what the body cell receptors can utilize. Again, some people show “normal” Total T3 but have insufficient Free T3 levels.
As you can see, there are so many reasons why many of us are very likely to be undiagnosed. It is therefore recommended to seek a medical practitioner who understands the thyroid and is willing to run a full panel of tests.
Diagnosis is key but it’s only the beginning of the healing path
The bigger question holistic and alternative practitioners asks is: “Why is it happening? Why did we not have a thyroid pandemic 50 years ago?”
Much of it can be attributed to the increased levels of toxicity present in our lives today. It’s well known, that most people with thyroid conditions have a high toxic load.
Where is it all coming from?
There are 7 key toxic sources known to us today that can detrimentally impact the thyroid:
Toxicity Source #1: Food We Eat
The way we process our food today has contributed to the loss of its nutritional value. Added substances like preservatives and additives are simply not tolerated by our bodies and are seen as toxic. Furthermore, pasteurization, homogenization and refining of food have created a storm of digestive problems. In short, our food today is very different from 50 years ago and not coincidentally, the rate of diseases has escalated too.
An incredible majority of people experience chronic bloating, acid reflux, constipation, gas or burping and assume it’s “normal” to feel this way. It is NOT. It’s critical not to experience any of these symptoms for optimal overall and thyroid health.
Most of us do not know that the majority of the immune system lives in the digestive track. Since most of thyroid diseases are autoimmune conditions, it’s therefore critical to repair the gut.
Not surprisingly, most people with thyroid conditions also experience frequent or chronic bloating, fatigue after eating, constipation, acid reflux, etc.
What can you do to reduce food related toxicity?
a. Identify food intolerances you might have – food like gluten, eggs, dairy and soy are known to be causing many digestive problems, aggravating the immune system, hence the thyroid. Eliminate them all for two weeks and re-introduce one after another to see how your body responds.
b. Eliminate all processed, refined foods and replace with real, organic and local food. If shopping for organic food creates a budget strain, look up food co-ops and CSAs (community-supported agriculture) in your area.
c. Address your food cravings – a craving is our body’s well of telling us that it needs something. Most people crave sugar and starches which, unfortunately, feeds the pathogenic bacteria in the gut, contributing to a weaker immune system.
By following these few simple suggestions, you will instantly improve your digestive track and your liver, strengthen your immune system and give your thyroid a chance to get revived from a reduced attack of the immune system.
Toxicity Source #2: Antibiotics and drugs
“Doc, I have a sinus infection, I need help. NOW!”. You know that your doctor will prescribe a dose of antibiotics – which is a great, quick fix to get you back on your feet. The problem is –antibiotics wipe out the bad AND the good bacteria in the gut. Your gut needs the good bacteria in order to support a healthy immune system.
How do you boost your immune system?
a. Always look for natural cures first, adopt a mindset of “drugs are my very last resort.”
b. Introduce an abundance of probiotic-rich food like:
- Sauerkraut (pick from the refrigerated section, never in vinegar)
- Kimchee (Korean version of sauerkraut)
- Yoghurt (best is home-made) if you can tolerate diary
- Kefir, if you can tolerate diary
- Kombucha (fermented tea, yummy!)
- Kvass (beet root drink sold in many health stores)
Toxicity Source #3: Negative emotions and stress
You know when a stressful event at work or at home finally comes to an end, you collapse and come down with a flu? We have all experienced that at some point. This is why: when we are stressed out, our adrenal glands secret a hormone called cortisol which gives us focus, energy and clarity of mind. Cortisol is also responsible for stimulating our immune system. When we produce too much cortisol for too long; the adrenal glands get too tired and they stop producing sufficient cortisol. And this is why our immune system gets weakened and we get sick. Furthermore, too low or too high cortisol levels also interfere with the thyroid gland.
Stress is more of a factor in your thyroid’s health than most people realize.
In fact many people, when asked, can pinpoint to their (thyroid) health spiraling down after a stressful event in their lives. (Laurie's note – this happened to me when my husband lost his job.)
What can you do to reduce stress?
c. Find a centering practice that agrees with you; it could be meditation, breathing exercises, tai chi or yoga.
d. Visualize how your day would look by focusing on the positive aspects and reframing any negative thoughts and events you foresee.
e. Journal your daily thoughts and spot the negative ones (many people focus only on these!) and plan how to avoid, change or reframe these energy-sucking events, people, jobs and places that drain us.
To learn more how these and 4 other hidden toxins impact your health and your thyroid, register for a free call “7 Toxins Sabotaging Your Thyroid” and discover how revitalizing your gut and liver can improve your thyroid function and make you feel energized, clear-minded, optimistic, inspired to heal further and lose some of that impossible weight.
Magdalena Wszelaki is a former Hashimoto’s patient (autoimmune disease causing underactive thyroid) who dedicated her life to empowering people with thyroid conditions to self-heal and reclaim their lives. She’s a big proponent of living a toxicity-free life for optimal health.
Magdelena recommends many of the same ideas I have found helpful for treating my own thyroid trouble, plus additional information. It makes sense to me. I receive affiliate payment if you choose to purchase any of her products. I asked her if she would share the basics on how to identify if you have thyroid problems, and some tips to get you started on healing, since I know I have a DIY audience.
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Related posts on the site:
- My Thyroid Journey – Living with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis – Common Questions, Misconceptions and Myths
- How To Heal Thyroid With Foods