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June 21, 2014

Hypothyroidism is All the Rage These Days.

Hypothyroidism is all the rage these days.

Weight gain, sluggish metabolism, dry skin, hair and nails, inhibited memory, sensitivity to extreme temperatures, feeling heavy, unmotivated and exhausted are all symptoms of an under active thyroid.

Tackling your thyroid may be daunting, but did you know that your enteric nervous system (gut) and liver play major roles with your thyroid health?

Both the gut and liver are responsible for the conversion of T4 (inactive thyroid hormone) to T3 (active thyroid hormone that gets things done). Thyroid hormone is active within every cell in our bodies. If we are not making enough, or not converting T4 hormone to T3 active hormone, our energy and overall wellbeing will suffer.

Support your Liver:

Most T4 to T3 conversion takes place in the liver.

Our liver is responsible for thousands of metabolic processes, from amino acid conjugation (making proteins) to detoxification and filtering blood. Ensuring that the liver is synthesizing amino acids and detoxing hormones and toxins is crucial for proper thyroid health.

T3 is primarily used by our cells, so if our liver is not converting T4 correctly, chemical reactions in our body will be less than optimal, resulting in fatigue, weight gain and overall compromised metabolic activity.

Every cell in our body contains thyroid receptors. If they are being blocked by false thyroid “hormones” (goitrogenic compounds found primarily in raw cruciferous vegetables and soy) or the liver is not producing enough T3 to supply each cell with thyroid activity, our cellular health and energy will suffer immensely.

If our liver is dysfunctional due to improper detoxification pathways, too much alcohol, stress and refined foods, it is highly likely there will be improper conversion of T4 to T3. 1.

Spring is the season of renewal, cleansing and refreshment, meaning our liver loves spring! If it is sluggish and burdened by toxins it won’t be able to properly convert the hormones we need in order to feel vibrant.

A lot of people like to do a routine “spring cleaning,” whether it be juicing, fasting etc.

This sort of harsh cleansing may overwhelm our liver, leading to more toxicity as toxins are released and unable to be fully excreted via liver detoxification pathways.

Gentle cleansing is much more effective, safe and more likely to become lifestyle habit.

Some incredible ways of supporting your liver are: cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts), drinking warm lemon water, dandelion or dark leafy greens, sour or bitter foods (rose hips, bitter tinctures) and dandelion root or milk thistle tea. Further support includes exercising and excreting toxins through other modems of detoxification (such as our skin: sweating!) as to not overburden the liver.

Heal Your Gut:

Considering the burden we place on our digestive tract (stress, environment, food allergens and pollutions), it is no wonder our whole wellbeing suffers when our digestion is not happy.

Like all conditions, our enteric nervous system is imperative for regulating all biochemical processes.

Without proper gut bacteria, we are unable to have healthy immune systems or absorb nutrients. Leaky gut can be a trigger for the hypothyroid disease, Hashimotos2. 

Since we know that thyroid hormone is active in every cell, it is important to have a healthy thyroid to maintain gut health and vice versa. Our gut and thyroid health are co-dependent; they need the other to be working properly in order to ensure they can each do their job thoroughly.

Did you know our gut flora is responsible for 20% of T4 to T3 conversion? All the more reason to take your probiotics.

Constipation also plays a large role in maintaining thyroid health. Nutritionist Chris Kresser says, “Constipation can impair hormone clearance and cause elevations in estrogen, which in turn raises thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) levels and decreases the amount of free thyroid hormones available to the body. On the other hand, low thyroid function slows transit time, causing constipation and increasing inflammation, infections and malabsorption.” 2. 

Slowing down is the best way to heal your gut.

Connect with your food, be thankful for you food, chew your food mindfully.

Stress wreaks havoc on your digestion, whether it be lifestyle or physical stressors. You will be amazed at the difference and lightness you feel when you eliminate stress from your eating patterns.

Eating fermented foods (kefir, unpasteurized sauerkraut, kombucha) will help reinoculate healthy bacteria in your gut. But be mindful of portion sizes of these foods, as they can cause gas and bloating for a sensitive stomach.

Supplementing with l-glutamine on an empty stomach can help repair your gut wall and reduce inflammation.

Drink fresh turmeric tea (fresh turmeric can be typically found next to the ginger in the produce section). Turmeric will soothe your stomach, greatly reduce inflammation, and supply us with potent antioxidants.

Fish oil and omega 3’s also battle inflammation while lubricating your digestive tract, helping elimination and reversing extreme overall dryness from an under-active thyroid.

Exercising outside exposes us to sunlight (Vitamin D!) as well as fresh oxygen. Exercise is one of the best ways to stimulate the thyroid and relieve constipation.

Enjoy your health!

References:

1. Croxton/Underground Wellness, S. (2014, April). Can Detox and Digestive Issues Cause Thyroid Problems? [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from http:/thethyroidsessions.com/reed-davis-thyroid-preview/?inf_contact_key=3184f8f6fb3c86e944603dce1b4be470337ae2f71301af70bcf5dc7b2804d992

2. The Thyroid-Gut Connection. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://chriskresser.com/the-thyroid-gut-connection

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