Do you often find yourself contemplating things you can (continue to) push off?
How about that pile of undone to-do's still lurking on your desk? Did you used to be filled with vitality, motivation, and the stamina to get things done, but now you find yourself exhausted, barely able to get through the day?
Or maybe you've been carrying around some extra weight for a while now and you've committed to getting rid of it for good too many times to remember. But no matter how many changes you make to your diet and how much exercise you do, you just can't seem to lose stubborn body fat.
It's like you've hit a plateau before you've even begun.
Serious fatigue and issues with losing weight are two red flags that could indicate an imbalance in your thyroid.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that produces hormones responsible for regulating all of the metabolic processes in your body--from your digestive system to your circulation.
Millions of Americans have thyroid imbalances, and many take prescription medications to relieve their thyroid-related symptoms. Hypothyroidism, or under-activity of thyroid function, is the most common thyroid imbalance. When the thyroid slows down too much, circulation and metabolism can also slow down too much, causing a wide range of symptoms.
Every cell in your body has its own metabolism and thus is affected by thyroid hormones. Therefore you can experience symptoms of an imbalanced thyroid in almost every bodily system. This wide range of symptoms can make it hard to recognize thyroid imbalances and address root-causes to bring the thyroid back into the correct relationship with the rest of the body.
Another reason that an imbalanced thyroid goes undetected is that conventional medical lab testing ranges can underestimate the degree of thyroid imbalance.
In fact, if your thyroid is in the abnormal range on one of the standard diagnostic tests, your thyroid has most likely been out of balance for years.
The good news is that if you suspect or are able to detect an under-active thyroid, you can take proven steps to bring your thyroid back into balance.
If these symptoms go unchecked over time, your thyroid activity can continue to decrease, making all of the symptoms worse.
One of the hidden consequences of low thyroid is low mood. This can show up when you can't perform your work productively or function properly in your roles at home and it can take a serious toll on your overall state of mind.
Thyroid imbalances can also begin after pregnancy, which is an extremely vulnerable time for a new mother. There's perhaps no other pain like a mother bogged down by fatigue who can't find the energy to be attentive to her children's needs.
Low thyroid can also appear when individuals have undergone prolonged dieting or intense exercise regimens. Looking at your thyroid is particularly indicated if you've been committed to a healthy lifestyle but just can not seem to lose weight no matter what you do.
Once a thyroid imbalance has taken hold, it can lead to profound fatigue and loss of motivation in life. This can severely affect your ability to reach your goals and be present in your relationships. Individuals with long-term thyroid imbalance may have difficulty keeping up with their daily tasks and responsibilities and can even end up unable to have stable employment and provide for their needs.
You can learn to rebalance yourself naturally through changes in your diet and nutritional supplements.
By discovering exactly what is going on with your thyroid, you can empower yourself and improve your long-term health outcomes based on how you address your thyroid issues.
Time and again, we've seen people take the time to tackle their thyroid imbalances to improve their own lives and also improve the lives of everyone around them.
A central cause is prolonged stress on the body. This stress could be caused by issues at work, in your relationships, or based on the demands being put on your physical body such as infection, toxins, or extreme exercise
Under stress, the brain sends a signal to the adrenal glands instructing them to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These are the hormones responsible for a fight or flight reaction in the body, focusing all of the body's processes on survival. This focus on survival imbalances the thyroid gland, usually in the direction of slowing down.
Another root cause of an imbalanced thyroid is an imbalanced gut. An imbalanced digestive system can spill proteins, bacteria, and other toxins into the bloodstream, which in turn imbalances our immune system, often in the direction of overactivity.
If you have any predisposition to thyroid imbalances (which could be noticed through a family health history), an imbalanced immune system could lead to thyroid imbalance.
There are several toxicities and dietary deficiencies that can lead to thyroid imbalance. Heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, bromides, and arsenic can contribute to issues with the thyroid. These metals can affect the body in various ways, contributing to immune imbalance and increasing inflammation in the body. Ultimately, this can lead to thyroid imbalance.
Birth control pills can also contribute to an imbalance in the thyroid, as they can alter hormonal levels, which also influence the thyroid gland.
Another often overlooked fact is that you need the essential minerals iodine and selenium to maintain a balanced thyroid. A lack of these minerals in your diet can contribute to symptoms related to the thyroid.
It's time to take control of your health and body. There's always an underlying imbalance that is preventing you from feeling well. Be honest with yourself and your lifestyle and commit yourself to make a change.
The best way to identify the root of your imbalance is by arming yourself with the most detailed information possible about exactly what is going on inside of your body.
We reccommend at-home lab testing to identify levels of TSH, T3, and T4 in your body, which indicate how well your thyroid is balanced. Additionally, it can look at a thyroid-specific antibody that may show an imbalanced immune system. You can look for an all-in-one lab also assesses your cortisol stress levels, potential sex hormone imbalances, vitamin D levels, and blood sugar balance.
Other diagnostic tools that can be useful when you're working on your thyroid health might be an Organic Acids lab test. This type of Functional Medicine lab test checks your body for heavy metals, stress markers, and important minerals. An Organic Acids test also analyzes your gut microbiome balance, vitamin and other nutritional deficiencies, and energy production. Using these diagnostic tools together, you'll know specific information you need to keep your thyroid well-balanced for the rest of your life.
Even though there are a multitude of factors that can cause internal imbalances, there are also a wide variety of approaches to maintaining balanced hormonal levels. When we take a holistic approach, we can sustain a high level of function in our lives. This means more energy, improved attention and focus, and reduced stress.
Your diet is a very important way that we can regulate our body's endocrine system and maintain balance. When we eat a nutrient rich diet, we equip our body to handle stress and tension with greater ease. Supportive diet changes include increasing your dietary fiber, cutting down on carbohydrates, and using healthy fats like olive oil when cooking.
Committing to making meals at home rather than eating out is a powerful way to improve your diet. Other foods to consider adding to your diet include nuts, kidney beans, coconut oil, flax seeds, and avocado.
Ensuring that you have positive sleep habits and are getting the rest you need to rejuvenate your body is another essential ingredient to maintaining healthy hormone balance. Sleep is a challenge for many, and requires attention to improve. Check out our post about sleep (insert link) to learn more about how to reduce your insomnia and feel truly rested.
Sarah, a community member, had been navigating hypothyroid for 11 years. Through the detox program and paying attention to her TSH levels, she stopped taking synthetic thyroid medication and was now taking a natural thyroid replacement medication. She'd been seeing progress boosting her thyroid's health using the detox program and watching her diet, but what else could she do?
The answer? Dig deeper.
In functional medicine, you must equip yourself with as much data about your body function as possible. Every organ in our body is part of a system of interconnected organs. The thyroid is a vital part of the endocrine system, which is responsible for producing and regulating hormones in the body. We can treat the thyroid, but if there is a deeper hormonal imbalance, the thyroid will continue to be low-functioning. When we know how all the systems in our body are working, we can seek balance and equilibrium in all areas, and ultimately achieve wellness.
Once Sarah took her at-home lab test, she recognized that she needed to focus on bringing her adrenals back into balance in order to achieve the results she was looking for in relation to her thyroid. After months of a focused program, she is now off of her thyroid replacement medication completely and enjoying energy and productivity levels she hasn't experienced in years!
Do not underestimate the importance of your thyroid on creating whole-body health. Our thyroid is one of the most important organs we have, as it is responsible for regulating the activity of almost every cell in our body.
When our thyroid is not balanced, it can be difficult to do just about anything in our lives. And once thyroid function becomes imbalanced, it rarely rebalances on its own. The thyroid is such an essential part of the overall functioning of your body that when it's off track, so are you.