Hello! I hope your keeping super well and have implemented so of the nutrition, supplements and exercise recommendations from the previous modules into your life. AND of course are starting to feel better and notice improvements already — these are called ‘positive biomarkers’ and are a great indicator of progress, no matter how small. So be sure to keep an eye out for them. 😉
I’m sure you are feeling overwhelmed but hopefully you made notes and are starting simply. Like, nutrition first, then supplements and then slowly start to add in exercise or increased movement.
Important organs, functions and recognition’s for hypothyroid
Now module 3 is looking at a few different components. These are important acknowledgements that play a part in thyroid health. For many people they fly under the radar. People either just don’t know or just don’t recognize how important it is to support these components for healthy functioning thyroid and all the benefits it yields. These components are; the gut and digestion, liver and circulation, adrenals and stress, and self care (you might think this is an odd place to add self care but it will be perfect once you read it). *sleep is another consideration which has not been added but important to remember and prioritize. Check out my podcasts on biohacking sleep!
So lets start! I apologize in advance that this module is quiet information heavy! I have tried to keep each component as small as possible without compromising on the important parts…so as not to ‘lose’ you in a sea of information. 🙂
The gut and digestion
Your gut AKA the digestive system or tract, is the first point of contact for anything that you put in your body. Your gut starts from the nostrils and mouth, right down to the anus. That’s a lot of square footage with a lot going on. This is also the system that is responsible for breaking down food so that you may absorb the nutrients. If the gut is not functioning properly or having any issues, then you can bet your bottoms that you will not be absorbing nutrients and minerals properly, and there may be some leaky gut happening too! All these drive up thyroid dysfunction and other auto immune conditions.
The pillars of optimal gut function are;
- microbiota (gut bacteria)
- gut integrity (how well the gut is holding up)
What can negatively effect the gut;
- excessive exercise
- toxic exposure
The human immune system’s primary home is in the gut; so gastrointestinal microbiota has a direct effect on the human body’s immune responses. – Wikipedia
This statement above shows how important good gut health is. That means avoiding substances that we know damage the gut cell wall, cause inflammation in the gut and rob us from essential nutrients. Substances like; sugar and processed foods, hydrogenated oils, wheat, barely, rye, raw kale and other raw cruciferous veg, and of course dairy for some people. Then adding in foods that are gentler and more beneficial to the gut like prebiotic, probiotic and modbiotic foods (I have added a modbiotics food PDF to the Thyroid guide Facebook group for your referral). Foods like bone broth, grass fed meats, lightly cooked green veg and organic apples can all be very beneficial to your gut. Refer back to the foods in module 2. Water is essential too for breaking down foods and transporting nutrients throughout the body.
REMEMBER — it is essential to support your ‘Gallbladder’ and bile production too, for good digestion to take place!
Researchers have found that in addition to digesting, absorbing nutrients, maintaining water and electrolyte balance, the gut is also responsible for helping the immune system recognize foreign invaders, and thus can keep us more resilient.
Some aids that can help with digestion if you find your not digesting foods properly, especially fats and proteins are; Betaine HCL, Fennugreek, Betaine and pepsin, Apple cider vinegar, warm water and lemon juice, Swedish bitters, Bromelain, vinegar’s, ginger, bone broth and other warm drinks 15-30 minutes before a meal. Sauerkraut and kimchi can be helpful, even pickles. You can also try digestive enzymes that contain ‘protease’ and ‘lipase’. Activated charcoal after a meal. And some people find relief from taking a good probiotic, Glutamine, Zinc, NAC (N-acetyl cysteine) and Saccharomyces boulardii. *If you’ve never taken probiotics before, you will want to start low and go slow, as you may have increased symptoms if your gut flora changes too rapidly.
TAKEAWAY — Take care of your gut!
The liver and circulation
The liver is an important organ that is responsible for a multitude of processes: it filters the blood, stores glucose for energy, produces and secretes bile for fat digestion, and is necessary for converting T4 to the active T3 hormone. It’s also our primary detoxification organ.
The liver has two pathways for detoxification. The elimination of toxins is done through a two-step enzymatic process.
In the first step (known as Phase I), fat-soluble toxins undergo processes such as oxidation, reduction, hydrolysis, hydration, and dehalogenation. This pathway requires B vitamins, folate, glutathione, and flavonoids. The toxins are metabolized into intermediary substances that make them easier to process as they move along and prepare for the next phase.
In the second step (known as Phase II), the substances undergo conjugation, sulfation, glucuronidation, glutathione conjugation, acetylation, amino acid conjugation, and methylation reactions (I have spoken more about all these in the Facebook Biohacking group). These processes detoxify the substances and make them water-soluble so they can be excreted via the stool or urine. Folate, magnesium, glutathione, vitamin C, B5, B12, and the amino acids methionine, cysteine, glycine, taurine, glutamine, and choline are needed in Phase II.
In other words, to support both detox pathways, the liver needs to be given nutrients and minerals. So you can see how important good nutrition is here. Without it and without supporting the liver we can get toxic backlog and conversion on T4 to T3 drops. The liver is not the only thing effected here though. The lymphatic system and your circulation will be impacted and this will cause issues with inflammation, fluid retention, swelling and even blood purification (the kidneys get hit too).
Symptoms of toxic overload may include digestive problems, bad breath, fatigue, weakness, constipation, headaches, hormonal imbalance, itchy skin, rashes, breakouts, joint pain, brain fog, irritability, chemical sensitivity, and weight loss resistance — just to name a few! Your liver may also show signs of stress in the form of right-sided chest pain, gas, and diarrhea.
So how do we support the liver apart from making sure we are getting good nutrition;
- Remove potentially harmful foods – again that is your sugar laden processed junk foods and bad fats. Gluten, dairy, soy, alcohol and caffeine for some.
- Add supportive foods – Go back to module 2 for the best foods for Thyroid health, they support the liver – that’s your cilantro, beets, turmeric etc. Also modbiotics are very beneficial for the liver, along with herbal teas like Dandelion, Parsley tea, Rosemary tea, Milk thistle (very supportive), Burdock tea and Raspberry leaf. I do like Hibiscus tea too, for binding to excess cholesterol droplets and Pure Cranberry tea for Kidney support.
- Reduce toxic exposure – that means if you find you have a sensitivity to strong smells like chemicals, perfume and other beauty products, then try minimize your exposure to them. I can’t go into ‘Bed, Bath and Body works’ without feeling nauseous! Swap out cleaning products for lemon or lime juice, vinegar’s and essential oils. In my laundry I also use Borax and a natural odorless detergent, this is an effective way to minimize skin exposure to chemicals too. :)….Also Fluoride is a thyroid suppressing halogen. Oh and don’t forget those horrid herbicides and pesticides! Organic where possible! Heavy metals are an issue too so one hack you can do is take 2 activated charcoal pills before consuming fish or sushi….this can also protect against some air pollution too.
- Support both detoxification pathways – with our essential nutrients and minerals, teas, supplements. Also aiding circulation will help things move through the liver and out of the body more efficiently….so body brushing, massage, enemas and colonics,hot baths, rebounding, sauna, hot yoga, cycling, dancing, inversion moves and other exercises that increase blood flow, especially to the lower body…improving circulation.
Supplements that have been shown to support the liver are;
- Activated charcoal (I like this form as it is combined with ginger which also supports the gut and brings down inflammation)
- Bentonite clay
- Calcium D Glucarate
- MSM or methylsulfonylmethane
- NAC or N acetyl-cysteine – take after you eat as NAC will cause stomach upset on an empty stomach
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
- Glutathione in the form of L- Glutathione
- Folate in the form of methyltetrafolate
- Vitamin B12 in the form of methylcobalamin
- Selenium in the form of selenomethionine
- Essential amino acids
- Rock lotus extract (this is super hard to find though)
- Bitter melon extract – ‘wild’ bitter melon extract is better if you can find it.
- Chorella and spirulina
- And of course our teas mentioned above.
Improving circulation should become a daily practice for you. Think of it like this…if your blood is not moving around your body effectively it becomes stagnant like a pond and putrefies. This means nutrients and toxins are not being moved around your body, to where they need to go! Personally I have poor circulation that I need to stay on top of daily so I — body brush my thighs, butt, tummy and back of my arms every day in the morning and before bed. I walk, dance or jump on my mini trampoline daily. I do 10 minutes of inversion before bed every day but I will do it throughout the day if I feel my legs are sore or retaining fluid. I also try to have a HOT HOT bath at least once a week. I am consciously aware of my movement because muscle contraction pumps blood around the body 😉 .
The Adrenals and stress
If we are often very stressed, it is very easy to lose and deplete a lot of our minerals and nutrients fast.
The HPA axis or hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is an intricate system of direct and indirect feedback mechanisms that regulate the bodies reaction to stress. This basically means that when stress is perceived a signal is sent from the hypothalamus the pituitary gland which then tells the essential organs including the adrenals how to respond. We mainly think of the adrenals when we experience a lot of stress or fatigue…this is because the adrenals take the blunt of hormone changes. So like cortisol says, “quick quick we are in danger, lets slow down the metabolism and increase insulin to shuttle sugar into the cells for energy for we can fight, run away and survive”…thus causing the metabolism to slow down and increase insulin (driving insulin resistance).
Most people with a slow thyroid or thyroid dysfunction have some sort of coinciding adrenal issue, often referred to adrenal fatigue (I prefer ‘adrenal dysfunction’). This is because if the adrenals are getting hit and not functioning properly then the thyroid is getting hit too and vice versa. Its the adrenals that secret a lot of our hormones throughout the day and help us function optimally, and if the adrenals are out of rhythm, then we are too.
Symptoms of adrenal dysfunction are; feeling overwhelmed, feeling tired and lethargic even with adequate sleep, difficulty getting up in the mornings or getting stuff done, cravings for salty foods, increased effort for daily activities, low blood pressure, feeling faint or dizzy when getting up or moving quickly, mental fog, alternating diarrhea/constipation, low blood sugar or hypoglycemic reactions, decreased sex drive, decreased ability to handle stress, slowed healing, mild depression, don’t enjoy life ass much as you feel you should, feeling worse after skipping meals, increased PMS, menstrual irregularities, poor cognitive performance, difficulty contracting the eyes, sensitivity to bright light, unstable body temperature, impaired ability to make decisions, reduced productivity…the list goes on.
Additionally; seasonal depression, PTSD, asthma and eczema have all been linked to adrenal dysfunction.
STRESS AND ADRENAL FUNCTION;
Stress is linked to most chronic illness, more so than we realize! Stress effects every part of our body, contributing to autoimmune disease, cellular damage and more. Under normal conditions where your body is working well, the body creates and adaptive stress response via the HPA axis and sympathetic nervous system to deal with perceived stress. This leads to activation of our fight or flight state which causes the adrenals to release stress hormones and survival ensues (hopefully), which allows the body to return to homeostasis. But if the body is always perceiving stress then you are constantly being driven into a fight or flight state which turns off most major processes because your working extra hard to produce cortisol and even insulin to keep you alive, and turning off the production of other hormones needed for optimal health 🙁 . This turning off of other hormones and processes of course effects reproduction, digestion, nutrient absorption, autophagy (cellular clean up), fat burning and cognitive performance. Excess cortisol also inhibits the conversion of T4 to T3, while at the same time it promotes the production of reverse T3, which we know is bad news!
OK, so what is stress?
There are four types of stress that turn on our fight or flight response;
- mental/emotional stress – this stress is based on our perception of stress, not necessarily on the individual nature of the stress. This can be fear, grief, guilt, anxiety, worry, pressure, excitement and even embarrassment.
- sleep disorders – did you know that sleep deprivation is used to suppress the HPA axis in lab animals and is the fastest way to induce adrenal fatigue? Poor sleep also causes insulin resistance which encourages weight gain.When we sleep, the body releases human growth hormone and repairs itself. Sleep is the reset button for the HPA axis. All hormonal systems are allowed to reset during sleep.
- metabolic issues like insulin resistance and obesity – studies have found that up to 50% of patients with thyroid disease have impaired tolerance to carbohydrates. This means that if you have thyroid issues you are more likely to have insulin resistance and weight problems, also experience hypoglycemia and other unpleasant symptoms. This can also be confusing though as we have seen studies that show carbohydrates are essential to thyroid function…so how do you deal with this? Well you time your carbs, use supplements that help with the metabolization of sugars and stick to the best carbs possible.
- chronic inflammation – chronic inflammation may result from joint pain, injury, poor sleep, obesity, toxic overload, gut issues, pathogens in the gut, food allergies or over training (too much exercise). These all signal for more cortisol to be released and the cycle continues.
Supporting the adrenals and body during times of stress;
- Correct deficiencies – cholesterol for hormones, water and minerals for re-hydration and any fluid retention, C and B vitamins need to be priority as they get depleted fastest during times of stress.
- Use of adaptogenic herbs – Tulsi, Ashwaganda, Rhodiola, Reishi, Turmeric and Ginseng have many studies backing their efficacy
- Use of hormones and adrenal extracts may be recommended in some cases – speak to your health practitioner about this
- Topical magnesium can be helpful – I use this
- Epsom salt baths have been found to help calm the body too but don’t stay in it for more than 15 minutes
- Remove as much stressors as you can from your life and implement good stress management techniques – even if its just closing your eyes and counting 10 breaths. “Give me the strength to change what I can, the patience to accept what I cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference” 😉
- Try to avoid pushing yourself past the point of being tired, using caffeine, sugar, alcohol, staying up past 10/11 pm, being to hard on yourself AND feeling sorry for yourself.
- Get adequate rest, its CRUCIAL! Aim to be in bed by 10 pm every night.
- Exercise! Mild to moderate exercise has been shown to help with adrenal recovery, YAY!
- Regulate blood sugar imbalances and insulin resistance (this is where The HETA guide or 1:1 coaching would come in)
People with adrenal or fatigue issues are recommended to supplement with the following, especially if their nutrition is not optimal;
- Vitamin C
- Pantothenic acid
SELF CARE, SELF LOVE AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Look if you don’t take care of yourself, sh**s going to get bad real quick and that’s the unfortunate truth. The world we live in now is high paced and demands more from us then ever, and if we don’t prioritize time to ourselves, time to love ourselves and take care of our needs…then we end up sick and unhappy and depressed and all that other nasty stuff that comes along with it.
We have all heard it said that we can’t fill others cups from ours, if our cup is empty. Well along the same lines is one of my favorite Ferris Bueller quotes…
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
That means take time to slow down and smell the roses. Pace yourself and prioritize time for yourself. When we don’t prioritize time to fill our own cup we cant manage stress properly and we get stuck in that fight or flight state and we have seen above what that does to us and our health. Stress not taken care of, in a body that is not loved, effects every organ and cell in our body…driving up inflammation, fluid retention, weight gain, autoimmune disease, organ failure, cellular damage (which can lead to a host of diseases), depression, irritability and brain cell death. Do I really have to go on about how important self care is?
That means you are number 1! Then your kids, your hubby, the house and so on. But you are first! You don’t know how many times I have seen women put themselves and their needs on the back burner because they feel the have to put everyone else first, especially their kids and hubby, then guess what happens….yep they get super sick and unhappy and can’t take care of anyone! Now that makes no sense does it?!
Whereas prioritizing at least 1 hour to yourself a day can help support your health and happiness by allowing you to breath, relax, silence yourself, bring down inflammation, go over your thoughts, decide what you want to do next, make plans to do stuff you enjoy, take in some time in nature, the sunshine and fresh air which we know are super beneficial for good health and well being 🙂 .
I know what your saying…”but I don’t have the time”, “I have mom guilt if I take time to myself”, “that will take time away from my husband”, “by the time I get home I have to cook dinner”…blah blah blah. We can find a way around all excuses can’t we? We are powerful women and and we can figure out how to overcome anything, given the right amount of commitment. So an effort to reduce the stress in your life and put yourself in a positive healing mind frame. Repeat a positive affirmation to yourself every day to help keep you in that positive mind frame!
How can we get around some of the excuses we tell ourselves?
- We could get up earlier to workout or go for a quick walk in the fresh morning air
- We could start wrapping up for bed an hour earlier to allow ourselves time to soak in a bath, read our favorite book, listen to our favorite feel good music while we get ourselves washed and ready for bed
- While in the bath we could listen to a podcast – studies show that learning something new each day helps us feel empowered
- We could listen to a podcast while going for a nice walk outdoors alone, embrace that time alone
- If we don’t have time to meditate we could focus on breathing exercises and or our thoughts for 5-10 minutes while doing our inversion before bed
- Ask your hubby can he take the kids out for an hour or two so you can have some time to yourself, don’t feel guilty about that
- Put your kids to bed early so you can have an hour to yourself and then spend time with your husband
- Get your husband to join in with you doing inversion or going for walks
- Once every few weeks plan to go out and shop alone or see friends or even see a movie alone! I love seeing movies alone! I tell my hubby I need some time to myself and he understands because I come back better. You don’t even have to spend money, ask a girlfriend to meet you for a walk or just hang out.
- Get take out for dinner (healthyish take out lol) – you don’t always have to cook or be on the ball
- Don’t cook if your not hungry, fast! Let everyone else have sandwiches, it’s not a big deal.
- Even if you have to cook separate meals, don’t stress – remember feeding your body good healthy food is a form of self love, you need good nutrition to heal and be your best…even if no one else wants to eat it.
- Make batch meals or stick to the same foods daily – getting bored of foods is mostly mindset and its actually easier to just stick to the foods you like day in and day out.
- Ask for help! You will be surprised who is there for you when you need them xo
I’m sure we could come up with some other ideas if we brain stormed 😉 .
OK to wrap things up, here are some strategies to help you manage stress better, take care of your body and get in self care at the same time;
- Walk – in the sunshine is best
- Go for picnics
- Dance – even if you are all alone
- Sing out loud til your heart is content
- Watch funny movies – avoid horrors and thrillers as these will spike your cortisol even more
- Do a yoga or pilates class
- Take 10 minutes to do inversion
- Meditate anything from 10-60 minutes – got no time? then combine meditation with inversion or do walking meditation on your walks
- Listen to classical music
- Listen to your favorite music
- Listen to music or podcasts or audio books while you run errands or potter around
- Sit down to enjoy a cup of tea
- Take supplements and adaptogenic herbs that support your adrenals and body in times of stress
- Create a beautiful bedroom environment that is your safe calm place
- Nap if you feel you need it! Ain’t no shame in a good nap, just try keep it to no more than 20 minutes!
- Prioritize sleep
- Treat yourself to something nice every now and then, even if its just a cupcake 🙂 – don’t feel bad about spending money on yourself.
- Buy yourself flowers
- Involve your family and friends, being alone is awesome but we still need that community social aspect too.
- Let go of needless sh**, it’s just not worth your time or energy!
- Get a good routine going, it makes everything easier
- Learn, delving into knowledge can be so enlightening!
- Share your story, it might help someone else and helping others is a great path to happiness 🙂
- Be honest about your needs
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help (I know I’m repeating myself but its important)!
Remember…Stress is almost always a precursor to illness!
I really hope you enjoyed this module! I know there is a lot of information but once you get into a good routine of putting it to use…I promise you will reap the rewards and be feeling wonderful in no time! Combined with the other modules, you are well on your way to taking control of and improving your health. Whoop <3
Some of you will start to see improvements within as little as 2 weeks, whereas others might take longer, especially if there is sever adrenal fatigue, which can take from 3 months to 2 years – the key is to stay consistent and don’t give up.
Reach out to me if you are feeling overwhelmed and I will help you put a plan together. You got this!!