ARE YOU SICK AND TIRED OF BEING SICK TIRED? Maybe it’s your Thyroid!
Written by: Greg Ashby
Picture yourself getting up late for work with no time to eat. You jump in the car and head to nearest drive-through, gulp down a large coffee and eat a questionable breakfast sandwich and get to work without a minute to spare. You push through another day, excited because tomorrow is Saturday and you’ll have some time to breathe.
But instead of sleeping in, you wake up bright and early to make yourself a big mug of coffee. As you sit there savoring your cup of joe, you remember that BIG sale at your favorite department store is today. And there you go again, running off without a nutritionally balanced breakfast, fueled by caffeine and adrenaline.
Sunday goes that exact same way because of family obligations – places to go and people to see. The entire weekend goes by and you haven’t taken care of yourself in the least. You’ve skipped the whole notion of eating well and forget about exercise, you simply didn’t make the time for that in your busy schedule.
After collapsing on the couch Sunday night, completely exhausted, you begin to wonder why you’re always so tired. You get enough sleep, after all.
My friend, you are not alone!
The fact that you’re go-go-going all day, every day, definitely may have a large impact on your energy reserve. But when you take the time to slow down, eat well, move your body and get some rest and notice that you’re still feeling blah, there are some simple – although not always standard – tests to consider pertaining to a small, yet very important part of your endocrine system.
I’m talking about the health of your THYROID!
The doctor usually checks your TSH and T4, which is especially important for women. But 80-90% of women with low thyroid – or even “normal” TSH and T4 – have an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. While this is not a direct thyroid condition per se, the thyroid (and often other components of the endocrine system – hormones and adrenal glands included) are affected.
What happens with “hashi’s” is that the immune system attacks the thyroid. This is the autoimmune component, meaning your body is attacking its own healthy tissue (in this case, your thyroid). The underlying cause of autoimmunity is chronic inflammation, so getting that under control is crucial to your healing journey.
Some of the symptoms for hashi’s may include: weight gain, always feeling cold, rapid heart rate, puffed face and eyes, hair loss, mood swings (including depression), low sex drive and infertility.
To get a complete picture of what’s going on in your body, there are some other important tests to request from your doctor, which include:
– Free T3 – This is the most active hormone of the thyroid controlling metabolism, body temp and heart rate.
– Free T4 – T4 converts into T3.
– Reverse T3 – Nicknamed the anti-thyroid hormone, also the hibernation hormone. In times of chronic stress or chronic illness, it lowers your metabolism by blocking the conversion of T4 to T3.
For Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (Autoimmune Hypothyroid)
– (TPOAb) Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies
– (TgAb) Thyroglobulin Antibodies
For Grave’s Disease (Autoimmune Hyperthyroid)
– (TRAb) Thyroid Receptor Antibodies
– (TSI) Thyroid Stimulating Immunoglobulins
It’s also a good idea to include the following tests:
– TIBC (total iron binding capacity)
– Iron Saturation
– Vitamin B12 – Vegans can often be deficient if they haven’t been supplementing and this can cause many health problems, leading to fatigue, weakness and more. Gluten sensitivity can also alter absorption of B12. And low HCL (stomach acid) and certain medications may also cause a B12 deficiency.
– Vitamin D, 25-Hydroxy – A large percentage of the population are deficient (often unknowingly) so testing your D levels every 6-12 months is important as vitamin D plays a critical role in a healthy immune system. Having this test done regularly is useful because it can help you determine how aggressive you should be about supplementation. The is fact that some people have low levels of D, no matter how much time they spend in the sun! And “normal” vs. “optimal” is a very different story, especially if you are immuno-compromised. D3 is the supplement to consider when your levels are low or you are dealing with any sort of autoimmune disorder.
– Homocysteine – This test can help determine a B12 deficiency. Elevated levels of homocysteine are associated with atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries) and suggest an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clot formation and Alzheimer’s disease.
– C-reactive protein (CRP) – This measures inflammation in your body. Recent studies have found that inflammation is key to the progression of many diseases, including coronary artery disease, infections, inflammatory arthritis, lupus and pelvic inflammatory disease. The test won’t tell you what’s causing the inflammation, it will only reveal the presence of inflammation in the body.
Since the Thyroid is directly connected to the adrenal function and blood sugar maintenance, the following would also be a good idea:
– HbA1c – a measurement of blood glucose and insulin balance over a 90 day period.
– Salivary Adrenal/Cortisol test – This is the best method to evaluate your cortisol levels throughout the day (you want to have your cortisol be at its highest in the morning and gradually decrease throughout the day so when you’re ready for bed, your body is able to feel rested as well).
If testing is out of the question, a diet to heal the gut and reduce inflammation is a great starting point.
- Reduce salt intake and switch to a quality sea salt/celtic salt. But don’t cut it out completely (we need salt – iodine feeds the thyroid).
- Remove sugar, dairy and gluten containing grains (wheat, barley, rye).
- Cut back or eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Avoid smoking.
- Make 70% of your diet plant-based, focusing on the other 30% from quality animal products and complex carbs, like grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, sweet potato, beans, lentils (if they agree with you) and non-gluten grains such as wild rice and buckwheat. Quinoa (a seed) is also a great option and is actually a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids.
Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant
at Ask Dr. Garland
Greg Ashby, CHHC, AADP lives in Ogden, Utah and is an Integrative Health Coach and Functional Nutrition Consultant. Greg has been in the Health and Wellness industry for over 20 years.
Because of his personal experience with Adrenal and Thyroid disorders, as well as Cancer, he’s committed to the areas of Autoimmunity and Cancer prevention and management when it comes to research and his work. He enjoys studying the Psychology of Eating and Behavioral Disorders.
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